Geographical indications (hereinafter ‘GIs’), recognized as intellectual property under Articles 22-24 of the TRIPs Agreement of 1994, protect a complex, collectively generated intangible good, that results from the interaction between local communities and the ecosystem of a defined geographical area. The current EU GI law focuses on agricultural products and foodstuffs (Reg. 1151/2012), and various kinds of drinks (wines, spirits and aromatised wines). However recently, the EU Parliament and Commission started working on a possible extension of the protection of non-agricultural products. The future reform could extend the Protected Geographical Indications (hereinafter ‘PGI’) model enshrined in Reg. 1151/2012 to this new category of goods. Indeed, this decision would involve various kinds of issues, mainly due to the substantive differences between agricultural and non-agricultural goods.
The first part of the research will use quantitative empirical methods to detect and analyse products, other than agricultural, in the aim of drafting a general definition of ‘non-agricultural products’. This definition will, therefore, be based on the current practices available at national level. This step is fundamental to understand the scope of protection of the future extension. For the same purpose, the scope of protection of the current Regulation 1151/2012 for agricultural products is as well taken into account.
The second part of the research will deal with case studies aimed to show how local community members interact for the preservation and protection of the value generated with the production of non-agricultural products (such as industrial and artisanal products). This value is constituted by a common intangible good (owned by no one and accessible to those who comply to the requirements) that needs to be managed, monitored and protected to ensure its sustainability and preservation. The Institutional Analysis and Development framework conceived by Elinor Ostrom in 1991 – and in particular the developments following the introduction of the Grammar of Institutions into the framework by Ostrom and Crawford (1995)– will be used to better understand the current practices at producers’ level for the preservation and protection of local resources. This analysis is aimed to identify the successful and unsuccessful strategies occurred in the context of the registration of a sign involving geographical names for non-agricultural products (GI or Collective Trademarks, at national level).
This phase of the research will be useful to (1) assess whether a possible future system of protection crafted on Reg. 1151/2012 would align with local practices and (2) identify the most relevant issues emerging from those practices that may be relevant for policy makers.