20 April 2022
For the first time ever, the European Commission has published a framework for protecting the intellectual property of manufacturers of products that rely on “the originality and authenticity of traditional practices from their regions”, writes Leatherbiz Leathergoods and footwear producers are likely to be among the manufacturers who stand to benefit. To qualify, products will need to originate in a specific place, region or country and have at least one production step taking place in the defined geographical area. The framework defines ‘craft products’ as those that are made either totally by hand or with the aid of manual tools. Products that are partly made using mechanical means can still qualify as long as the manual contribution is still the most important component of the finished product. While these products benefit from a European and sometimes global reputation and standing, the framework said, producers have so far lacked an ‘indication protection’ linking their products’ orgin and reputation to their quality. The Commission said it wanted to draw on the success of the geographical indication system for wines, spirits and agricultural products. It added that it now wanted manufacturers to be able to protect crafts and traditional know-how associated with their regions. It said this will make it easier for consumers to recognise the quality of these products and make more informed choices, while helping to promote, attract and retain skills and jobs. In addition, it said the proposal would put traditional craft products on an equal footing with protected geographical indications that already exist in the agricultural area. A member of the European Commission, Thierry Breton, said: “Europe has an exceptional legacy of world-renowned crafts and industrial products. It is time for these producers to benefit from [protection] that will increase trust and visibility for their products, guaranteeing authenticity.” The new Regulation will also facilitate action against fake products, including those sold online.

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