IP News Eastern Europe
Ukraine Adopts Law on Geographical Indications for Spirit Drinks
The Ukrainian Parliament recently adopted a bill on geographical indications for spirit drinks (the term existing and taken from EU legislation), which was signed into law by the President on December 25, 2022 and will become effective after a two-year transition period, on December 29, 2024.
The law implements provisions of Regulation (EU) 2019/787 into the Ukrainian legislation and fulfills Ukraine's obligations under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement regarding spirit drink regulation.
“Spirit Drink” Term Introduction
The law defines spirit drinks as alcoholic beverages intended for human consumption with a minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 15% (as well as “egg liqueurs” with a strength of minimum 14%) which were produced by a certain set of methods or a combination thereof.
Until this law, the Ukrainian legislation only provided a definition of "alcoholic beverages", which include any drinks with an alcoholic strength by volume of 0,5% and above. When the new law enters into force, spirit drinks will be a sub-type of alcoholic beverages.
Categorization and Official Names
The law introduces the categorization of spirit drinks as provided in Regulation (EU) 2019/787, including more than 40 categories. Еach category of spirit drinks is based on their physical, chemical and organoleptic qualities, their composition and method of production.
The “official name of a spirit drink” is defined as the name of the category with whose requirements the spirit drink complies. If a spirit drink does not comply with the requirements of any category, the official name is “spirit drink” or any other name stipulated by a regulatory act.
Compound Terms and Allusions
The law brings from Regulation (EU) 2019/787 the term “compound term”, meaning, in relation to the description, presentation and labelling of an alcoholic beverage, the combination of either the official name or the geographical indication for a spirit drink, which was added to represent the total alcohol content in it, with the name of one or more foodstuffs (other than the alcoholic beverage and other than foodstuffs used for the production of that spirit drink), or adjectives deriving from those names, or the terms “liqueur” or “cream”.
The law also imports from Regulation (EU) 2019/787 the term “allusion”, meaning the direct or indirect reference to one or several official names or GIs for spirit drinks in the description, presentation or labelling of a foodstuff, an alcoholic beverage or a spirit drink that complies with the requirements of certain categories of spirit drinks, particularly such as “liqueur” and “crème”.
The law specifically outlines the cases and conditions regarding an allusion to an official name or GI for a spirit drink and the use of the official name or GI in compound terms as permitted in the description, presentation and labelling of a foodstuff, an alcoholic beverage or a spirit drink.
Geographical Indications for Spirit Drinks
According to the law, the geographical indication for a spirit drink is a name identifying a spirit drink originating in a country, region, settlement or locality where the quality, reputation or other characteristics of that spirit drink are essentially attributable to its geographical place of origin.
The right to register a GI for a spirit drink belongs to a producer or a group of producers who in the defined geographical place produce the spirit drink whose particular quality, reputation or other characteristics are essentially attributable to the geographical place. A single producer has the right to register a GI for a spirit drink only when they are the only producer of the spirit drink in the defined geographical place. The right to register a GI for a spirit drink under certain circumstances may also belong to the state, that is, an authorized state body.
Spirit Drink Specification
In order to have the GI registered, a spirit drink must comply with a specification approved by the Expert Commission of the Ministry of Agriculture. The product specification must include the following:
- The name to be protected as a geographical indication; for the names indicated in a language other than Ukrainian, transcription in the letters of the Ukrainian alphabet is required;
- The category of the spirit drink (or the term ‘spirit drink’ if the drink does not fall under any category);
- The description of the characteristics of the spirit drink, including those essentially attributable to its geographical place of origin, as well as information about the raw materials used in its production;
- The geographical area and its boundaries defined as accurately as possible, also taking into account the details establishing the connection between the spirit drink and its geographical origin;
- The description of the method of producing the spirit drink;
- Details establishing the link between a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of the spirit drink and its geographical origin;
- Details about the certification bodies that will verify the conformity of a spirit drink with its GI;
- Any specific labelling rule for the GI.
Registering a GI
Once the product specification is approved, the applicant has 90 days to file a GI application before the national IP Office. The application must consist of the relevant application form, the approved specification, and a single document outlining the main points of the specification.
GIs for spirit drinks are examined and registered according to the rules set out in the GI law, last amended in December 2019 when provisions were aligned with Regulation (EU) 1151/2012.
The Right to Use a Registered GI
Every producer who manufactures a spirit drink in compliance with its specification has the right to use the GI registered for that spirit drink after the producer is recorded with the State Register of Geographical indications as an authorized manufacturer of that spirit drink.
Use of a registered GI for a spirit drink includes the following actions:
- Applying it to the product or label;
- Applying it to the packaging and using it in advertising;
- Using it on letterheads, invoices and other documents accompanying a spirit drink.
The use of registered GIs for spirit drinks for which GIs are not registered is prohibited. That prohibition also applies if GIs are used in conjunction with words or phrases such as ‘style’, ‘type’, ‘method, ‘made’, ‘imitation’, ‘flavor’, ‘like’ or any other similar terms.
When labelling spirit drinks, the registered GI may be accompanied by the text “Registered geographical indication for a spirit drink in Ukraine”, which may be accompanied by a special symbol – oval-circled letters G and I (in Ukrainian).
The law introduces fines in the amount of EUR 2,500 for legal entities and EUR 1,700 for individual entrepreneurs for non-compliance with the law’s provisions.
The law enters into force on December 29, 2024, giving spirit drink manufacturers a transition period of two years to adjust their production, bring their spirit drinks in line with the new categories and carry out the preparatory work for certification and GI registration. This transition period will also allow relevant state bodies to elaborate and adopt applicable bylaws and procedures.
There is also a separate transition period lasting until January 1, 2026 for Ukrainian manufacturers to cease use of certain GIs protected in the EU, such as Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, Grappa, and Anis Portuges, for comparable spirit drinks produced in Ukraine. This transition period was established by the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement.
By: Igor Alfiorov
For more information, please contact Igor Alfiorov at our Ukraine office.
Hungary Amends Patent and Utility Model Acts
Act LV amending several industrial property laws, including the Patent and Utility Model Acts, entered into force in Hungary on January 1, 2023. Act LV aims to clarify certain aspects of various procedures before the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO). The amendments are the results of the HIPO’s practical experience and their main goal is to harmonize IP laws with Hungarian procedural legislation, including the Law on Civil Procedure and the Law on General Administrative Procedure. The main amendments to the Hungarian Patent and Utility Model Acts are outlined below.
Expiration of Patents, Plant Varieties and Utility Models
The expiration date of patents, plant varieties and utility models has been clarified further – the rights expire on the date corresponding to the starting date of protection, and if that day is missing from the month when the rights expire, they will expire on the last day of the month. Presumably this change is about February 29 as it only exists every four years.
Clarity of Claims for Utility Models
The Utility Model Act now aligns the clarity of claims requirement for utility models with the one for patents, i.e. the wording of the claims must clearly define the scope of the protection sought.
Modification of Patent and Utility Model Applications
Modifying patent and utility model applications has been also clarified. The previous provisions allowed amendments provided they did not extend the subject matter of the invention or utility model beyond the content of the application as originally filed. The new provisions are now worded differently - extending the scope of the original patent or utility model application may be achieved not only by adding new content but also by deleting certain words or parts of the drawings.
The applicants filing patent description with claims, abstract and drawings in English no longer have to submit a separate novelty search request in order for the HIPO to prepare the search report. The HIPO will now do this ‘automatically’, as they do with applications where the patent description, claims, abstract and drawings are in Hungarian. Nevertheless, the translation requirements have not changed and patent applications are still published in Hungarian.
Response to Office Actions
Previously, if patent applications did not meet the patentability requirements, even after applicants responded to office actions during substantive examination, applications could be rejected either in whole or in part. Now, they will be rejected in whole.
Correction of the HIPO’s Decisions in Patent Cases
A new provision was introduced in the Patent Act allowing applicants to request a correction of the HIPO’s decisions regarding the description, claims and drawings on which the final patent is based. This correction may be requested only once and within one year from the date the decision was made.
Adversarial Patent Proceedings – Changes Regarding the Adverse Party
Previously, the HIPO could not record changes regarding the party initiating an adversarial proceeding (e.g. transfer of rights). The amendments now enable the HIPO to record such changes.
Suspension of Patent Proceedings Based on Parties’ Request
If an adversarial patent proceeding involves several adverse parties, the proceeding can only be suspended upon a joint request. The proceeding may only be suspended once, for a maximum period of six months (after which the proceeding is terminated), and may be resumed upon request of any of the parties.
Patent Revocation Procedure
The amended Patent Act now clearly defines the legal grounds for patent revocation by explicitly referring to the relevant article of the Act – Article 42(1). This amendment applies to cases in process as of January 1, 2023.
Previously, the evidence that could be submitted along with a patent revocation request had to be documentary evidence. The Patent Act now states that the request should be accompanied by supporting evidence. Documentary evidence has to fulfill certain legal requirements and takes more time and effort to obtain than simple evidence. For example, a screenshot of a website would be simple supporting evidence, while a screenshot of a website taken in the presence of a notary public would be documentary evidence.
The amendments also introduce the possibility of postponing the hearings in patent revocation proceedings – the parties can jointly request a postponement subject to certain restrictions (e.g. no later than three days before the hearing; the postponement should be justified) and the HIPO can also postpone the hearing in case of exceptional circumstances.
The deadlines in accelerated patent revocation proceedings have been clarified (these apply for cases in process as of January 1, 2023):
- The deadline for rectifying irregularities or submitting comments is a maximum of 15 days, as opposed to exactly 15 days as it was previously; and
- A deadline extension may still be granted but only in particularly justified cases; the amendments define the length of the extension – at least 15 days and no longer than two months.
Body of Experts on Industrial Property
During industrial property disputes, the courts and other authorities may request an expert opinion of the “Body of experts on industrial property”, which is associated with the HIPO. There has been an increased need for expert opinions because the Body takes positions on various issues of public interest that may contribute to research, professional publications and the shaping of legal thought. The amendments provide for the creation of a database that will make these opinions available to the public. In terms of confidential matters, the publicly available information will cover only the case number, the subject matter and the Body’s findings regarding the interpretation of the law. However, if the lack of other information results in misunderstandings or is misleading or incomprehensible with regard to the findings, the publication of the Body’s opinion will be omitted, as it is not binding for the authorities.
Prepared by: Zita Szilágyi and Erika Farkas
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Komiški Rogač Registered as EU Geographical Indication
On March 22, 2023, the European Commission published its decision on entering the name 'Komiški rogač' (thick Komiža’s carob) in its register of geographical indications, meaning that this product name is now a protected GI throughout the European Union.
Croatia now has 42 agricultural and food products whose names are registered in the European Union as protected geographical indications, making it the seventh EU member state with the highest number of protected GIs.
A carob (Ceratonia siliqua) is a flowering evergreen tree or shrub in the legume family, widely cultivated for its edible fruit pods. The carob tree is native to the Mediterranean region and the Middle East.
'Komiški rogač' is a technologically mature fruit of the autochthonous so-called ‘thick Komiža carob’ variety from the town of Komiža area on the Croatian island of Vis, which is registered in the Croatian Plant Gene Bank. It is recognizable by its characteristic dark brown fruit or pods, which when ripe reach a length of 10 to 20 cm and a weight of 17 to 40 g, as well as a specific sweet taste and smell reminiscent of chocolate and cocoa.
Carob orchards with trees dating back hundreds of years can be found in Vis. ‘Thick Komiža carob’ trees are characterized by a lush and wide crown bringing forth abundant fruit with regular frequency. The fruit of this native variety is of exceptional quality, large and fleshy. Hundreds of years of farming knowledge applied by Komiža’s population resulted in this high-quality variety.
The carob tree originates in the Persian Gulf, from where it spread towards Anatolia and the regions of Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and Egypt. As early as 2000 years BC, the carob tree culture was accepted by Phoenicians and spread through the shores of the Mediterranean. Carob tree found its way to Dalmatia via the Greek colonists who founded their city states on Dalmatian islands. In the 4th century BC, Greeks from Syracuse founded the town of Issa in the Bay of St. George (present-day town of Vis) on the island of Vis. The Greeks brought grapevine and carob tree to the island. During Venetian rule, the town of Komiža became the largest carob tree habitat in Dalmatia, and Venice even passed a set of laws in an attempt to stimulate the planting of new trees. One of the requirements for the marriage contract, for example, was the plantation of a certain number of new carob trees.
The process of protecting the name ‘Komiški rogač’ was initiated by the local Association of Carob Breeders. The EU protected geographical indication will be visible on the packaging of Komiža’s carob.
By: Anamarija Stančić Petrović
For more information, please contact Anamarija Stančić Petrović, PETOŠEVIĆ Brussels representative.
Anamarija Stančić Petrović and Ivan Matić Receive Client Choice Awards in London
On March 9, 2023, PETOŠEVIĆ Brussels Representative Anamarija Stančić Petrović and PETOŠEVIĆ Serbia Senior Associate Ivan Matićreceived Lexology’s Client Choice Awards 2022 at a gala dinner and award ceremony in London, UK. The special event took place at 116 Pall Mall, a historic venue in central London.
Anamarija Stančić Petrović is the exclusive winner in the Franchising category for Croatia, while Ivan Matić is a winner in the Intellectual Property – Trademarks category for Serbia.
The Client Choice awards recognize legal practitioners from around the world who “stand apart for the excellent client care they provide and the quality of their service”. Law firms and practitioners can only be nominated for this recognition by corporate counsel.
You can see the photos from the event in our gallery.
PETOŠEVIĆ Highly Ranked in Chambers and Partners Guide
The 2023 Chambers and Partners Guide for Europe, one of the top publications on legal industry rankings, recently recognized PETOŠEVIĆ offices and practitioners in four jurisdictions: Bulgaria, Croatia, North Macedonia and Serbia.
PETOŠEVIĆ was ranked as follows:
Serbia — Intellectual Property — Band 1
North Macedonia — General Business Law — Spotlight Table
Regional Manager for Western Balkans Mihajlo Zatezalo was recognized as an Eminent Practitioner in Serbia, while Croatia Head of Office Ivan Kos and Bulgaria Head of Office Dimitar Batakliev were ranked in Band 3 in Croatia and Bulgaria respectively.
For more information and to read testimonials about PETOŠEVIĆ and our team, please visit our Rankings page.