The normative overview, tools and procedures to promote typical agro-alimentary products

From Best Practices WIKI

This section of “good praxis survey” shows the guidelines related to traditional agricultural food production, DOP and IGP products, DOC, DOCG and IGT wines IGT, as well as the specific rule for collective marks. In reference to the involved Countries (IT and GR) one observes that typical products can be distinguished at least in two main categories: a) typical products covered by an acknowledged denomination, generally defined by community rules in the matter; b) typical products linked to a certain area, precise production techniques, traditions of some areas and, however, apart the acknowledged de facto do not show well defined formal credentials. If in Italy, the latter products have found an acknowledgement in the rule regarding “traditional products”, the same did not happen in Greece that complains (also in the reported interviews) the lack of a discipline of typical products. In this section, therefore, rules of community marks are described (for both Countries: Italy and Greece); Italian regulation of traditional products and collective marks (IT). Finally, one reports, a resume of procedures and requirements to get a collective mark and to get the DOP/IGT requirement.

The regulation of DOP, IGP and traditional products

Traditional agro-alimentary products, together with DOP and IGP products, DOC, DOCG and IGT wines, and products worthy of EU recognition for which one uses particularly prized raw materials are considered as “typical products”, and are the object of particular attention from local, regional and national governments, and from the EU. The promotion and recognition of the peculiarities of typical products was taken into consideration also from a normative point of view with approval of legislative initiatives at a national and EU level. With Regulation 2081/92, the EU showed a first and unequivocal signal towards the new policies aimed at promoting “territory-based" products. In particular, with the institution of the DOP (Protected Denomination of Origin) and IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) brands, Brussels aimed at protecting typical agro-alimentary products through the safeguarding of two main interest categories. That of the producers, through the exclusive use of the denomination, and the simultaneous ability to forbid and prosecute any type of illegal use of the brand by subjects with no right to do so, and that of the consumers, alwaysmore interested in local productions, who by using the denomination can make use of information on the origin and quality of the product. At a later date, at National level[1] (ITALY), there was given the possibility, through the creation of a list of traditional products, to maintain processes and production technologies that vary from those generally considered suitable in giving the consumer the necessary hygienic and sanitary guarantees. The creation of this list represented an extraordinary opportunity of registering those alimentary products that while being a part of local alimentary and productive culture have not as yet had the possibility of an adequate promotion. In 2006 there was published, after a very long wait, new regulation 510/2006, which clarifies and simplifies the norms relative to the geographical indications and the denominations of origin of agricultural and alimentary products, a subject regulated by Council regulation n. 2081/92 (EEC). The new regulation, at EU level, makes the recognition procedure for geographical indications more straightforward, with a shortening of the timings involved for objections and with a greater co-ordination between national and EU institutions. The modification of the recognition procedure was made necessary by the large quantity of registration applications made to the European Commission, taking into account the large delays in registrations witnessed in recent years. Below is a table summarising the normative updates:

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At the Italian level[2], Circular n. 4 (28/06/2000), published by the Ministry for Agricultural and Forestry Policies, contains the regulations regarding the presentation of applications for registration as DOP and IGP, and the pinpointing of the relative administrative procedures. Regarding requests for registration as a Protected Denomination of Origin (DOP), and as a Protected Geographical Indication (IGP) for agricultural and alimentary products, in conformity with art. 5 regulation (CEE) n. 2081/92, the Following the “long awaited" revision of European regulations in 1990, in order to bring Italy into line with the norms contained in recent EC regulation n. 501/2006, the Ministry for Agricultural, Alimentary and Forestry Policies revised, with Ministerial Decree of 17 November 2006, its own procedures regarding new requests for DOP/IGP registration of agro-alimentary products. This fixed more precise criteria regarding the registration of Protected Denomination of Origin (DOP) and Protected Geographical Indication (IGP) products. It specifies in detail who can present the application for a product’s recognition as DOP and IGP, the documents needed and the procedures to be followed.

Traditional agro-alimentary

Traditional agro-alimentary products are part of an exclusively national (Italian) set of rules and regulations. In fact, in order to support Italian productions, the Ministry for Agricultural Policies instituted in July 2000 a national list of traditional agro-alimentary products, to be updated in collaboration with the Regions every year.. "Traditional products" are those agro-alimentary products for which one uses methods of food-processing, storage and seasoning that have been consolidated over time (at least 25 years), and which are homogenous across the whole interested territory according to traditional rules. The productions concerned are often limited from a quantitative point of view, and are cultivated on territories that are too small to merit DOP or IGP status. DOPs and IGPs mean extra obligations and responsibilities on the part of the producers which for marginal agricultural situations are difficult to deal with. The promotion of traditional or local products therefore lies with the Regions, which aim at safeguarding the environment and mountain agriculture, and which want to avoid territories being abandoned.

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The regulation of the collective brand

The collective brand represents a form of protection, from a private-enterprise point of view, for the denomination of products subjected to public recognition[3]. This is therefore regulated by article 2570 of the Civil Code, in so far as it is instituted by private law, and by the new “Code of Industrial Property” (Legislative decree n.30 - 10 February 2005). Article 2570 of the Civil Code establishes that “the subjects whose function is to guarantee the origin, nature or quality of determined products or services can obtain the registration of collective brands, and may allow their use, according to the norms of the respective regulations, by producers or dealers". Article 11 “Collective Brand” of Legislative decree n.30 - 10 February 2005 provides as follows: 1. the subjects whose function is to guarantee the origin, nature or quality of determined products or services can obtain the registration of collective brands, and may allow their use, according to the norms of the respective regulations, by producers or dealers. 2. the regulations concerning the use of collective brands, controls and relative sanctions must be attached to registration application; modifications of the regulations must be communicated by the owners to the Italian Office for Patents and Trademarks in order to be included with the documents attached to the application. 3. The dispositions of commas 1 and 2 are applicable also to foreign collective brands that are registered in their country of origin. 4. Making an exception to article 13[4], comma 1, a collective brand can consist of brands or indications that in commerce can be used to designate the geographic provenance of products and services. In this case, however, the Italian Office for Patents and Trademarks can refuse, with a reasoned order, its registration when the brands requested might create situations of unjustified privilege, or in any case prejudice the development of similar initiatives in the Region. The Italian Office for Patents and Trademarks may ask in this respect the opinion of the public administrations, as well as interested or competent categories and organs. Once a collective brand constituted of a geographic name has been instituted the owner is not authorised to forbid its use in commerce to third persons so long as this use is in conformity with the principles of professional correctness and is therefore limited to indicating its provenance. 5. Collective brands are subject to all the other dispositions of the present code, so long as this doesn’t contrast with the nature of the brands themselves. Those having the right to register collective brands are therefore those subjects, including natural persons, whose task is not that of producing or commercialising but rather that of checking and guaranteeing the qualitative standards, provenance and composition of a product, regulating the use of the collective brand and awarding it only to those products that respect the established criteria. The collective brand, being a mark of certification or quality and being used by a number of entrepreneurs, presupposes the constitution of particular institutions and associations that own it. The substance of the owning institution/promoting organisation, normally a consortium of producers, consists in the creation of a private-enterprise type unitary organisation, which is tasked with co-ordinating the actions of the individual participants. In this field quality controls are carried out, and sanctions are decided for those users that violate the statuary norms on the use of the brand. The promoting organisation registers the brand and becomes the owner. The collective brand, therefore, is awarded to legally constituted institutions or associations that have the objective of guaranteeing the origin, nature or quality of specific products or goods, and they are then allowed to award its use to the entrepreneurs belonging to the institution or association. The owner of the brand is not the entrepreneur making use of it, but rather a third party tasked with being a guarantee and carrying out certification. In order to obtain the awarding of a Collective Brand Registration certificate (initial request or renewal), the applicant must also present a copy of the statutory norms concerning its use[5], of the collective brand and of the relative sanctions. Eventual modifications to these norms must be communicated each time to the Italian Office for Patents and Trademarks. The collective brand does not therefore have the function of marketing the specific product or service of a specific entrepreneur (natural person or company), but rather of guaranteeing the nature, origin and quality of a product or service, which all the entrepreneurs who respect the production regulations can make use of, as established by the Regulation regarding use of the Collective Brand, which must be attached to the application for brand registration. It is to be remembered that use of the geographic collective brand is only allowed so long as it doesn’t create conditions of unjustified privilege or prejudice the development of similar initiatives in the same Region. Regarding their protection, the subject of collective brands is regulated by the same dispositions of trademark law that concern private company trademarks. A particular circumstance concerns the geographical collective brand (article 11, comma 4 of legislative decree n. 30/2005): its use cannot, in fact, prevent other entrepreneurs indicating the geographical provenance of their own products, so long as it is professionally correct, and therefore limited to an indication of provenance (i.e. merely to describe the product on the label and not as a distinguishing place-name as a component of that same brand). Below is a summary containing the normative base upon which the technical platform of the present Interreg IIIA Greece-Italy project will be constructed.

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Abbreviations and meaning

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PDO

A PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) covers the term used to describe foodstuffs which are produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognised knowhow.

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PGI

In the case of the PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) the geographical link must occur in at least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation. Furthermore, the product can benefit from a good reputation.

PAT

“Traditional products” are agricultural products with manufacturing, storage, and seasoning methods already consolidated over the years, homogeneous all over the target area, according to the traditional rules, and over a period of more than 25 years.

DOC

Controlled Denomination of Origin (DOC) . The standard quality designation which indicates wines produced in limited areas(usually of small-medium dimensions) bearing their geographical name. Usually the vineyard name follows the DOC designation and the production of these wines is closely controlled. The wines are to be consumed only after accurate chemical and sensorial analysis. Guidelines for the production of DOC wines is more strict than IGT wines.

DOCG

Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin (DOCG) - The highest quality wine designation given to a few DOC wines renowned at national and international level. DOCG wines are generally subject to more stringent controls. They can only be sold in vessels holding at most 5 liters and bringing a governmental guarantee seal of origin, and quality that grants the numbers of the bottles produced. Within the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry it has been established the “National Committee for the protection and the exploitation of denominations of origin and typical regional wines”. In addition to the standards requested for the DOC designation it is obligatory bottling in the production area and other stricter conditions.

IGT

Typical regional wines (IGT) – designation of high-quality given to table-wines mainly distinguished by big areas of production and less strict production rules. The acronym is useful to the consumer to know the area of production of the beverage: IGT wines are in fact, wines produced with specific grapes coming from specific territories. However, this designation, neither oblige viticulturists to put other mentions on the label (i.e. the vineyard of origin), nor to very strict production standards.

  1. Traditional products are regulated at the Italian national level. In Greece there is no specific regulation regarding traditional products.
  2. Below are the Italian (DOP/IGP) regulations. Greek regulations DOP and IGP products are not available.
  3. The brand can be registered at any Chamber of Commerce, or directly at the Italian Office for Patents and Brands, according to specific procedures.
  4. Art. 13. Distinguishing eligibility Comma 1. It is not possible to register as company brands those brands that have no distinctive character, and in particular those that are made up exclusively of generic product or service denominations, Or descriptive indications referring to them, such as the marks which in commerce are used to designate species, quality, quantity, use, value, geographic provenante, time of manufacture or carrying out of the service, or other characteristics of the product or service.
  5. 13 Use of the geographical collective brand To become the owner of a collective brand one must: a) Elaborate a regulation for the use of the collective brand, which contains: - the description of the product characteristics that need to be earmarked; - the definition of the modalities used in the production process; - the setting up of sanctions for when there is a difference in the prescriptions of the regulation (monetary sanctions, withdrawal of permission to use the brand in more serious cases); - the setting up of a system of controls. b) Present the application for registration of the brand to the Italian Office for Patents and Trademarks (UIBM) or, if protection is needed at EU level, to the Office for the Harmonisation of the Internal Market). c) Allow the use of the brand by the producers that request it. The entrepreneur planning to use the collective brand must make a request to the owner of the brand, and may use the brand so long as he/she undertakes to respect the regulations and undergo the relevant controls.