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International protection

It is true that the Swiss PDO-PGI policies created a legal basis for the protection of the registered products against imitation and deceit, but the interest in this protective effect does not end at the country border. For the sectors, as well as for the consumers it is extremely important that this protection maintains its effect in Europe and worldwide.

Protection of the Swiss PDO and PGI in the European Union and in Russia

The Swiss PDO-PGI system was from the beginning designed to be compatible at a European level. Since 1st December 2011 the Swiss PDO-PGI are now recognized and protected also in the European Union and the European PDO-PGI in Switzerland.

In Russia the Swiss PDO and PGI are also protected. On 1st September 2012 a bilateral agreement took effect, which goes far beyond the international minimum standards on the mutual protection of geographical indications and designations or origin. The other way round the protection covers also numerous Russian geographical indications and designations of origin in Switzerland.

At a worldwide level it is true that the geographical designations benefit from a certain protection within the framework of the TRIPS agreeement of the WTO (cf chapter 6.1 FAQ and below). The protection of the PDO and PGI which the TRIPS agreement (art. 22 and 23) warrants today, is, however, totally insufficient.

Worldwide protection of the Swiss PDO und PGI

At an international level the protection of geographical designation is regulated by the TRIPS agreement (Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) of the WTO. Along with bilateral and multilateral agreements between individual countries, the TRIPS agreement shows the most important guidelines of the protection of geographical designations. It provides two protection levels:

  • A basic protection for all products with a geographical designation against imitation and counterfeit goods or against unfair competition (Art. 22).
  • A stronger protection for wines and spirits, which are protected against any misuse of geographical designations, even if no immediate danger of deception exists (Art. 23).

This imbalance between wines and spirits compared to the other agricultural products is not justified. All geographical indications should be equally protected, even if consumer deception due to an inaccurately indicated appellation cannot be proved.

How to protect the geographical indications in the emerging countries (BRIC): Practical handbook of oriGin to the attention of the producers’ organisations.

© 2017 Swiss PDO-PGI Association