‘Food for thought?’ Protected geographical indications – food and drink names

The IPAN network meeting on 17th Nov 2022 (held at CIPA’s Holborn offices after IPAN’s 11th AGM), explored aspects of Geographical Indication (GI) protection for food, drink and non-agricultural products such as distinctive fabric goods, a less well known but commercially important form of IP protection.

GI protection is now a global phenomenon, having spread from Europe to Asia-Pacific, the Americas and now to Africa.  The UK has 85 protected GIs worth around £7billion, which account for around one quarter of the UK’s total food exports.

Some of the commercial opportunities and challenges of obtaining effective GI protection were brought out in the presentations by our guest speakers.

In his presentation, Matthew O’Callaghan (Chair of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association and Founder and Chair of the UK Protected Food Names Association) spoke about protection for regional food names with particular reference to his work around Melton Mowbray and its famous pork pies.


In her presentation, Michelle Okyere (a Ghanaian lawyer, currently researching GIs at Nottingham Law School, under the supervision of IPAN Director, Associate Professor Dr Janice Denoncourt) spoke about protection of regional textile fabrics in Ghana.



To round off the event after general discussion, there was a chance to savour a selection of GI-protected* food and drink from around the UK including: Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, Cornish Pasties, London Cure Smoked Salmon, Blue Stilton, Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese, Orkney Cheddar, Welsh Laverbread, Watercress, Anglesey Sea Salt, Rutland Bitter, English Wine, and Scotch Whisky!   This prompted John Ogier, IPAN Chairman to observe:

Never has an IPAN IP event tasted so good!


*Some background about GIs from the Gov.UK (DEFRA) GI information webpage:

Food, drink and agricultural products with a geographical connection (or made using traditional methods) can be registered and protected as intellectual property. This protection is called a Geographical Indication (GI).  GI protection guarantees a product’s characteristics or reputation, authenticity and origin. It protects the product name from misuse or imitation.

Unlike a trade mark, an individual or business does not own a GI.  Any producer can make and sell a product under a registered product name provided they follow the product’s specification and are verified to do so.

All product names registered under the UK GI schemes maintained by DEFRA (PGI – protected geographical indication, PDO – protected designation of origin; TSG – traditional speciality guaranteed), or as a traditional term for wine, can be searched here.

There is also a searchable legal register (eAmbrosia) maintained by the European Commission of the names of agricultural products and foodstuffs, wine, and spirit drinks that are registered and protected across the EU, UK and other countries based on geographical indication.

A recent IPKat post by Anastasiia Kyrylenko: What can GI scholars learn from food research? – references some books dealing with the historical development GI protection for wine and cheese products.