Protected geographical food and drink names: UK GI schemes
Last updated 5 January 2021
Food, drink and agricultural products with a geographical connection may 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.
The UK GI schemes protect registered product names when they are sold in Great Britain (GB).
The EU GI schemes protect registered products names when they are sold in Northern Ireland (NI) and the EU.
All product names protected in the EU on 31 December 2020 following successful applications to the EU GI schemes are protected under the UK GI schemes.
An individual or business does not own a GI. Any producer can make and sell a product under a registered product name if they:
- follow the product's specification
- are verified to do so
A GI is different to a trademark. A trademark belongs to the business that registered a product brand for protection.
Product names on the UK GI scheme registers
All products registered under the UK GI schemes, or as a traditional term for wine, are held on the following registers:
- Protected food names scheme register: protected designation of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indication (PGI)
- Protected food names scheme register: traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG)
- Protected spirit drink names scheme register
- Protected wine names scheme register
- Protected aromatised wines scheme register
- Traditional terms for wine register
Each UK GI scheme register lists protected product names and their registered specification (where applicable). EU product specifications will be added as soon as they are available.
Specifications for Welsh product names will be available in Welsh (Cymraeg) as soon as possible.
The date of original registration with the EU is displayed with the register details. This date was taken from the EU eAmbrosia registers. It is given for information and is not part of the official UK GI scheme registers.
Other protected products: United States of America (USA) wines and spirit drinks
The UK has agreed with the USA to protect certain wines and spirit drinks names in the UK. Whilst they are not protected as geographical indications (GI), the UK will protect use of the relevant product name for these USA-origin goods.
USA wines: over 700 wines names are protected as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) which describes their origin as a specific grape-growing region. The wines carry an AVA label.
USA spirit drinks: Bourbon Whiskey and Tennessee Whiskey (and spelling variations) are the two protected spirit drinks names.
Apply for UK GI scheme protection of a new product name
You can apply to add a new product name to the UK GI scheme registers. There are four UK GI schemes. Use the following guidance for your product type:
You can also apply to protect a traditional term for a wine product.
You'll need to apply to the relevant EU scheme to protect a new product name in Northern Ireland (NI) and the EU. GB producers will need to secure protection under the UK schemes before applying to the EU schemes.
NI applicants can apply to protect a product name in NI under the EU GI scheme. They can also apply to the UK GI scheme to protect their product name in GB. If they apply to both schemes at the same time, they must make it clear if they are applying to one or both schemes in their application. Defra will handle all NI applications.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the competent authority for the GI schemes in the UK (including NI). It manages the schemes with support from the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) for NI.
Use a UK GI scheme registered product name
To use a product name that's on the UK GI scheme registers, you must:
- follow the published product specification
- be verified to make and sell the registered product
- use the registered GI product name correctly
Change a product specification on the UK GI scheme registers
Anyone with a legitimate interest can ask to change the specification of a GI product already on the relevant UK register.
Cancel or remove a product name from the UK GI scheme registers
You can ask to cancel a registered product name if you're a producer or a producer group, or anyone with a legitimate interest.
The competent authority can remove a GI from the relevant UK register if:
- the product is not complying with its specification
- it has not been produced for seven years or more
UK GI scheme consultations, decisions and appeals
You can object to, or appeal against decisions about:
- applications for GI protection
- substantial changes to registered products
- requests to remove a registered product from the UK GI registers
UK GI scheme logos and product labelling
There are UK GI logos that represent the three designations of GI product:
- protected designation of origin (PDO)
- protected geographical indication (PGI)
- traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG)
Producers must follow the rules for adding a GI logo to UK registered products or packaging before they can sell it. Producers that are required to, will have until 1 January 2024 to add the relevant UK GI logo if their protected food product was registered before 1 January 2021.
The use of a UK GI logo is optional for wines and spirit drinks. If you choose to use a logo, you must follow the rules.
First published 5 January 2021