First South-East Asian GI to obtain protection in the European Union
The recent registration of Khao Hom Mali Thung Kula Rong-Hai (KTKRH) as a protected geographical indication (PGI) in the European Union was more than a legal victory. It will add value to KTKRH in Europe and international markets and directly benefit Thailand’s rice farmers.
KTKRH is a non-glutinous, fragrant white rice variety, sensitive to photoperiod (ie, light duration or day length). It is produced in the defined geographical area of Thung Kula Rong-Hai, which extends across five Thai provinces: Roi-et, Mahasarakam, Surin, Yasothon and Srisaket. The special characteristics of KTKRH are determined by a combination of human and natural factors. Cultivation began after the Thai Government improved the Hom Mali rice variety and certified it in 1959.
On November 20 2008, following the recognition of KTKRH as a geographical indication in Thailand, application was made to the European Commission for registration as a PGI under Council Regulation 510/2006. After publication of the PGI in the EU GI Gazette on June 29 2010, the governments of Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom filed objections. They argued that:
- ‘Khao Hom Mali’ is a generic term; and
- the requirement that packaging of KTKRH take place in the defined geographical area was unjustified and unnecessarily restricting: packing should be permitted outside the Thung Kula Rong-Hai area, including in Europe.
Following consideration of the applicant’s response to these objections, the European Commission registered KHKRH as a PGI on February 12 2012, dismissing also the request to allow packaging of the product outside the Thung Kula Rong-Hai area, and thus guaranteeing consumers better traceability of KTKRH.
Fabrice Mattei, Rouse, Thailand
The author acted for the PGI applicant and the Department of Intellectual Property of Thailand
Copyright © Law Business ResearchCompany Number: 03281866 VAT: GB 160 7529 10