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.