Traditional Specialty Guaranteed
Agricultural products intended for human consumption or foodstuff with a traditional composition produced in accordance with traditional production methods may become a Traditional Specialty Guaranteed.
The designation as a TSH boosts farmers income and is seen as positive in maintaining rural areas. The TSGs are recognized at the community level and entered in a register kept by the commission. There are two lists, depending on whether or not the name is reserved to those producers who comply with the product specifications.
A product may only be registered if it is produced using traditional raw materials and it is characterized by a traditional composition, a method of production that corresponds to a traditional production or processing method.
In order to be registered, the name must be specific in itself and indicate a specific character of the agricultural product or foodstuff.
Names that only contain the general name used for a set of products and names that are misleading for consumers may not be registered. The rules are without prejudice to the community rules covering intellectual property or concerning geographical indications and trademarks.
In order to be registered as a TSG, the product or foodstuff must comply with specifications in two of the following elements;
- a name and an indication of whether the application for registration is made with or without reservation of the name.
- description of the product.
- description of production method.
- key elements that define its character.
- key elements that demonstrate traditional character.
- minimum requirements for checking its character.
The application may only be made by a group of producers or processors. Applications are lodged with the state where the group is established.
The state examines it and initiates a national objection procedure ensuring the adequate publication of the application and providing a reasonable period in which persons with legitimate interests and established in the territory may lodge objections.
The Commission must decide on the application within 12 months. If they are satisfied that it is justified and meets the necessary conditions, TSG may be granted. Each month the condition publicizes the names for which registration applications have been submitted. If the requisite conditions are met, the commission publishes it in the official journal.
Within six months of the date of publication, third parties, including states and other persons with a legitimate interest, may object to the registration proposed by lodging a substantiated statement. They may show the conditions have not been met or the name is already in lawful use, is renowned or is economically significant for similar agricultural products or foodstuffs. If no admissible objection is raised, the Commission will register the name.
Where the objection is deemed admissible, interested parties are invited to engage in consultation. If agreement cannot be reached, the commission makes a decision, bearing in mind traditional fair practice and the likelihood of actual confusion.
Only producers complying with the product specifications may refer to a TSG on the labelling, advertising, and other documents relating to the product or foodstuffs. The registered name is to be accompanied either by a community symbol or an indication of traditional specialty guaranteed.
The control of the obligations is carried out by authorities designated by the member state or by a control body operating as a product certification body. The costs of verification are borne by operators.
A producer intending to produce a Traditional Specialty Guaranteed for the first time must notify the authorities of the state. A third-country producer intending to produce the TSG for the first time must notify this to the designated authority.
States must take the necessary measures to ensure legal protection against misuse and misleading use of the terms TSG, the abbreviation and associated community symbol. Registered names must be protected against any practice liable to mislead the consumer, including practices suggesting that the product is a Traditional Specialty Guaranteed recognized by the community.
Geographical Designation of Origin
An EU regulation provides for the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin. The regulation applies to agricultural products and food products.
If there is a link between the characteristics of the products and the geographical origin, they may qualify either for a protected geographical indication or a protected designation of origin. They may use EU symbols on the labels of such products to provide consumers with an assurance of the origin. The purpose of the designations is to benefit the rural economy.
The protected designation of origin covers the term used to describe foodstuffs which are produced, processed, and prepared in a given geographical area using well-recognized know-how. The PGI indicates a link with the area in at least one of the stages of production, processing, or preparation. The link is stronger than in the case of the PDO.
The names may not be registered if they have become the common name of the product concerned. Names that are in conflict with the plant variety or animal breed and are likely to mislead the consumer as to true origin may not be registered.
A PDO or PGI may not be registered where the reputation and length of time it has been used allow this to mislead the customer as to the true identity of the product.
In order to obtain registration, the products or foodstuffs must comply with the specification and must include one or more of the following aspects;
- name of PDO or PGI.
- description of the product with an indication of the main physical, chemical, and microbiological properties.
- definition of geographical area.
- information proving the product originates in the area.
- information justifying the link between the product and the area.
- description of the product, production method, and appropriate, authentic, and unvarying local methods as well as information concerning patterning that take place in the geographical area. In order to ensure quality, ensure the origin and control.
- name and addresses of authorities that verify compliance.
- any specific labelling rule.
- requirements laid down by the community or national provisions.
Applications for registration must only be made by groups of producers or processors. It may be made jointly if the concern is cross-border.
The Commission checks the application and verifies whether it is justified. The check must be carried out within 12 months. Details of the application are published in the official journal.
Within six months of the publication, persons or bodies having a legitimate interest may object to the registration by lodging a substantiated statement. Proof must be given that the specification of the product fails to meet the required condition, that it conflicts with a trademark or agricultural product, or that it has become generic.
If no admissible objection is received, the Commission registers the name. Where the Commission judges the objection admissible, it invites interested parties to engage in consultation. If no agreement is reached, the Commission makes a decision bearing in mind the actual likelihood of confusion.
Effect of Registration
A registered name may be used by an operator producing products conforming to the corresponding specification. The terms protected designation of origin, or protected geographical indication or the associated EU symbols must be included in the labelling of products originating in the EU.
Registered names are protected against misuse, imitation, and evocation, even if the true origin of the product is indicated or its protected name is translated or accompanied by expressions such as style, type, method, imitation etc. It also protects against
- false or misleading indications as to the origin, nature, or essential qualities of the product in the inner or outer packaging, advertising material or documents related to product packaging.
- other practices liable to mislead consumers as to the true origin.
- commercial use of a registered name in respect of products not covered by the registration if they are comparable with the products covered under that name or if the use exploits the reputation of the protected name.
Where a PDO or PGI is registered, applications to register trademarks corresponding to one of the above situations or relating to the same class of products are refused. Under certain conditions, a trademark may coexist with a geographical indication or designation of origin.
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