The EU-funded Twinning Project for institutional cooperation between Public Administrations - “Establishing Efficient Protection and Control System of Geographical Indications (GIs) in Georgia”, was closed in solemn ceremony today. The main beneficiary of the Project was the National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia Sakpatenti, which was given an opportunity, through sharing experience and knowledge of leading countries in this field, to create the administrative and institutional mechanisms, which will strengthen the protection and control system of geographical indications in Georgia and facilitate capacity building and deepening the knowledge in the mentioned field.
At the event, the report of the work carried out by Georgian and foreign experts of the relevant field during two years was presented to the stakeholders. Within the Project, the current legislation of Georgia on geographical indications and its compliance with the EU legislation were assessed. In addition, resources of the producers and associations of appellations of origin and geographical indications, their necessities, mechanisms of the state control and competence of the executive bodies were evaluated and determined, as a result of which specific necessities were identified.
In order to ensure effective functioning of the geographical indications system, draft amendments to the “Law of Georgia on Appellations of Origin of Goods and Geographical Indications” were prepared according to the experts’ recommendations. The amendments include definition of the state control mechanisms for appellations of origin and geographical indications, identification of the basic elements of specifications of goods, specification of the procedures of conducting examination, determination of the role of producers’ unions, taking into consideration legal mechanisms of protection and other significant issues. On the basis of the draft Law, by-laws, guidelines and instructions were developed.
Based on the necessities of public agencies and producers’ unions and associations’ trainings, working meetings, certification simulations and various activities were held for improving qualification. In cooperation with the local producers, potential geographical indications – “Georgian Hazelnut”, “Racha Ham”, “Gurjaani Peach” and “Acharian/Georgian Tangerine” – were revealed and the specifications of these products were prepared for the purpose of their registration.
A draft was also prepared in order to establish the National Commission on Geographical Indications, which will have the analogous role and functions compared with the entity operating at the Ministry of Agriculture of Italy and the National Institute for Origin and Quality of France (INAO), leading in this field. The Commission shall ensure the use of the so-called two-stage system of the registration procedure, namely, participation of the Commission in the examination process and full study of an item marked with a geographical indication.
To eliminate the facts of counterfeiting of Georgian geographical indication products in the digital world, experts studied the mechanisms of control and rights enforcement and developed a plan, which includes signing agreements of cooperation with Internet platforms Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba and Rakuten.
In order the consumers to identify the goods with specific quality, logos of geographical indications and appellations of origin were developed. In addition, to raise public awareness, social videos, tutorials on registration, certification and control were prepared and a special platform on geographical indications – a website of geographical indications – was created.
The above-mentioned project was a component of the sectoral support from the European Union to Georgia, which was launched on November 7, 2019, and was financed by 1.5 million EUR by the European Union. The implementation of the project was entrusted to the national services of the European Union member states, functioning in the relevant field: the Italian Ministry of Agricultural Food and Forestry Policies (MIPAAF) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of France. On the part of Georgia, the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, the National Wine and Food Agencies, the Customs Department of the Revenue Service of the Ministry of Finance, the Investigation Department, the Monitoring Service as well as research centers, laboratories and producers were involved in the project implementation.
A geographical indication is an effective tool which serves to increase awareness and competitiveness of the unique local products related to the natural environment and cultural heritage. Development of the system of geographical indications and intellectual property, in general, is one of the main priorities of the Government of Georgia and its protection represents one of the significant issues within the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreement (DCFTA) with the European Union.