No 30

Café de Colombia, an Increasingly Better Protected Origin in Europe

November, 2015

100% NOTEWORTHY

Café de Colombia, an Increasingly Better Protected Origin in Europe

The General Court of the European Union made it clear that protection of Geographical Indications or Denominations of Origin against conflicting trademark registrations is not limited to products of the same class (coffee), but it encompasses services such as restaurants and coffee shops.

Thanks to the institutional work for appropriate characterization, promotion and defense of the origin, Café de Colombia is a Geographical Indication (GI) increasingly better protected in the common market of the European Union (EU).

On September 18, Café de Colombia achieved an important victory in the European courts as a PGI against brands that seek to take advantage of reputation of this origin in the segment of restaurants and coffee shops.

In a resolution that sets a precedent for subsequent cases and broadens the scope of protection, the General Court of the EU confirmed that protection of Geographical Indications or Denominations of Origin, such as Café de Colombia, against conflicting trademark registration is not limited to cases of products of the same class, like coffee, but it covers services that may cause confusion to consumers.

On February 2, in a different case, the Opposition Division of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) of the EU denied the registration of the mark “COLOMBUENO” for services of restaurants or coffee shops (class 43 in the Nice Classification) for being conflicting with the PGI “Café de Colombia”.

But it was now the General Court of the EU which confirmed that protection of these rights is not limited to cases of trademarks subsequently registered for products of the same class (coffee) as that of the PDO or PGI.

“This decision and Café de Colombia’s work send a powerful message to those seeking to take advantage of reputation of a Denomination of Origin by selling lower quality products or products from other origins,” said Massimo Vittori, Executive Director of the global network of geographical indications (OriGIn), based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ramón González, president of the Tequila Regulatory Council in Mexico and president of OriGIn’s Board of Directors, highlighted Café de Colombia’s work to achieve better protection by courts in the common market of the European Union.

This new victory for Café de Colombia as a PGI is the fruit of its institutional work for appropriate characterization, promotion and defense of the origin, which, in turn, translates into added value for producers and a guarantee of quality for consumers and the 100% Program brands.

A key added-value strategy

PGIs are a key element of Café de Colombia’s added-value strategy; Colombia is the most advanced coffee-producing country in this matter. To date, besides the Café de Colombia PGI, it has four regional Denominations of Origin: Cauca, Nariño, Huila and Santander.

With a hard work for the proper characterization and promotion of differentiated coffees, including regional origins such as Antioquia, Coffee Cultural Landscape, Sierra Nevada and Tolima, among others, Café de Colombia has managed to segment the supply and helped producers climb in the coffee value chain.

Legal tools are a fundamental element for the proper promotion and defense of the origin.

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Café de Colombia is a Protected Denomination of Origin in Colombia since 2005, a recognition that extends to the countries of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN). In the European Union, Café de Colombia became the first non-European PGI recognized in that common market in 2007. And in 2013, after a process of more than four years, it also achieved the recognition as PGI in Switzerland, the first for a foreign product.

But legal protection is not the only tool for appropriate defense of the origin in different markets. In 2014, over 1,600 samples were collected in international markets and evaluated in laboratories. Additionally, more than 47,800 samples of green coffee were taken and evaluated in exporting ports to ensure quality of exported coffee.

Café de Colombia has advanced technology, such as Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS), to identify different origins of green or roasted coffee in a sample, in order to verify if a particular sample is or not 100% Colombian coffee. More than 90,000 evaluations with this technology were conducted in 2014.

Even members of the so-called Misión Cafetera (Coffee Mission), which has issued recommendations for the coffee sector in the country, have ratified that Colombia is one of the few coffee-producing countries that have reached the level of knowledge required on issues relating to Denominations of Origin and that coffee institutions follow one of the most sophisticated strategies in the world to promote and protect Colombian coffee growers’ Geographical Indications.

We take advantage of this opportunity to remind members of the 100% Program that don’t have the PGI yet to request it.

 


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