HomeInsightsGeographical indications for craft and industrial products: UK Government publishes explanatory memorandum


In October 2023, the EU adopted a Regulation granting EU-wide geographical indication (“GI”) protection to crafts and industrial products which have qualities or characteristics linked to the area of production (e.g. Limoges porcelain). Similar to the existing GI protection for agricultural products (“NAGIs”), these rules aim to foster innovation and investment in locally-renowned products, such as glass, lace and jewellery, by helping artisans and producers to fight counterfeit products across the EU and reassuring EU consumers that they are buying a genuine product. The Regulation harmonises differing current national rules in relating to GI rights in craft and industrial products.

The UK Government Department for Science, Innovation and Technology has published a paper considering whether these rules should apply to Northern Ireland under the Windsor Framework, the document that aims to ensure Northern Ireland’s businesses have full unconditional and unfettered access to GB markets, while maintaining their privileged access to the whole of the EU market. Unless there is an explicit agreement of the UK, the Regulation will not apply in Northern Ireland. The question is whether there is a case for NAGI protection to apply to goods placed on the market in Northern Ireland.

The paper explains NAGIs are protected via collective and certification marks in the UK, a sub-set of the trade mark system, which the Government considers offers a similar level of protection to that afforded by the EU NAGI scheme. As to the potential impact, the paper points out that, although adoption would provide protection for NAGIs from across the UK (e.g. Harris tweed or Sheffield steel), research shows that there are few potential NAGIs in the UK and so take up is likely to be low. Primary beneficiaries would be EU and third country producers who would gain NAGI protection in Northern Ireland. Products on the Northern Ireland market would not be able to make use of EU NAGIs.

The paper does not reach any conclusions, nor does it call for evidence or comments. Therefore, it is not clear what the next step will be in deciding whether to enter into an agreement with the EU to add the Regulation to the Framework Agreement or not.

For more information, click here.