What is a geographical indication?
Who can obtain protection for a geographical indication?
What does a geographical indication entitle its owner to?
How can protection be obtained in Hungary?
What are the costs of the procedure?
What formal requirements must be met by the application?
What can the beneficiary of a geographical indication do if their rights are violated?
How long is the protection period of a geographical indication?
When does a geographical indication expire?
What is a geographical indication?
Agriculture and food industry play an important role in Hungary's economy. The same applies to wine-making, which is closely connected with the previous two industries, although the country can be proud of several other agricultural products of traditionally high quality as well.
From the aspect of our presence in the domestic and international markets, the legal protection of geographical indications and their use [Art. 103(1) of the Trade Marks Act "TMA"] such as designations of origin [Art. 103(3) TMA] and geographical indications [Art. 103(2) TMA] can play an increasing role. Internationally renowned denominations such as Szegedi paprika, Gyulai kolbász (sausage), Makói hagyma (onion), Tokaj wine or Egri bikavér (red wine) not only contribute to improving the country's image but constitute a significant added value in the form of collective protection while maintaining the quality requirements of these products.
Geographical indication is the general term for indications used to identify the geographical origin of goods. However, they can only be protected by industrial property rights if they meet certain conditions and undergo a registration procedure. Recognising the connection between the quality of a given product and its geographical origin, the aim of protection by geographical indications is to enable the right holders to act against those who unlawfully use the given indication. (The most common example is if the given product is not originating from the given geographical area or if it does not meet the requirements contained in the product specification).
After our accession to the European Union (and as a result of recently adopted Community legislation) geographical indications, depending on the type of product they relate to, can be protected under four different regimes, which are supplemented by the international protection available under the Lisbon Treaty.
Accordingly, the geographical indications of agricultural products and foodstuffs enjoy Community level protection under Regulation 510/2006 (EC) (i.e. applicable to the whole territory of the European Union). Geographical indications of spirit drinks can also enjoy community level protection based on the national protection granted by the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (if the conditions set out in Regulation 110/2008/EC are met). Designations of origin and geographical indications of wine products can only be registered at Community level pursuant to Regulation 479/2008/EC starting from August 2009, in a system similar to that of foodstuffs. Exclusive protection for the indications of the remaining (primarily industrial) products can be obtained pursuant to the provisions of Chapters XVI-XVII of the TMA with effect to the territory of Hungary.
Obtaining Community level protection always consists of a national and a community procedural phase. Regarding that the community protection systems of geographical indications are all connected with agricultural products, the national phase of the procedure is always managed by the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office in coordination with the Ministry for Agriculture and Regional Development.
The rules of the national phase are set out in the TMA and Gov. Decree 124/2007. (V. 31.), while the Community procedure is regulated in the above mentioned Community regulations.
As already mentioned above, in addition to identifying the origin, geographical indications are also closely connected with quality, therefore these indications can only be used by producers whose products meet the mandatory requirements [Article 107(1) TMA]. An additional condition for the protection of the geographical indications of agricultural products, foodstuffs, spirit drinks and wine products is that the product specification must meet the requirements set out in Gov. Decree 124/2007. (V. 31.). The product specifications are verified under a separate legal instrument [Gov. Decree 124/2007. (V. 31.)], and control of compliance therewith is assigned to the authority designated in that instrument.
Below, you can find regulations concerning the national protection of geographical indications - obviously in the area in which they are applicable (i.e. Community protection for agricultural products and foodstuff falling under Regulation 510/2006/EC is not provided for under this procedure).
Any private individual, legal entity or company with no legal entity status can obtain protection for a geographical indication, if they produce, process or manufacture a product identified by a geographical indication in the geographical area identified by such geographical indication [TMA 107.§ (2)- (4)]. It is important to note that not only the applicants are entitled to use the protected geographical indication, but anybody who produces the product in the given region identified by the indication- also in accordance with the product specification if it is also a requirement for the protection..
The owner of the geographical indication is entitled to use the geographical indication in respect of the products listed in the product list [paragraph d) Article 5(1) Decree 16/2004. (IV.27.) of the Minister of Justice ("IM")], but may not give licence to any third party [Art. 109(1) TMA]. In case of infringement of geographical indications (Art 110 TMA), any of the right holders may take action against the infringing party.
Protection can be obtained by submitting an application to the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office [Article 4 Decree 16/2004. (IV.27.) of the IM].
The fee for submitting an application for geographical indication is HUF 107,000 regardless of the number of product groups included in the application.
The formal requirements of the application are set out in Articles 4 and 5 of Decree 16/2004. (IV.27.) of the IM on the detailed rules of trade mark applications and geographical indications.
In case of any infringement of geographical indication (Art. 110 TMA), the right holder or lawful user of a geographical indication may start a lawsuit at court and assert claims set out in the law.
In case of unlawful use of geographical indications subject to product specification, action may be taken not only by the right holders but also by those authorities which are in charge of verifying compliance with the product specification.
The protection becomes effective by registration with retroactive effect to the day of submission, and lasts for an indefinite period.
The geographical indication must be cancelled if it was registered despite its non-compliance with any of the conditions for protection (Arts. 105-106 TMA). In this case it is deleted from the registry by the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office [Art. 111(2) TMA].
The geographical indication may also be withdrawn if the right holders fail to comply with the requirements set out in the product specification [Gov. Decree 124/2007. (V. 31.)].