Agro Food’s Quality Signs and Free Movement of Goods. What Strategies for the European Operators?
Several recent cases judged by the Court of Justice of the European Communities have raised interesting issues on the possibility for operators of food chains to use national quality signs indicating a territory of origin, different from the European regulatory ones (Protected Geographical Indications). These various attempts from France, Germany and Belgium were all condemned as protectionist policies contradicting the free movement of goods between Member States in the European Market. However, the condemned national policies can be seen as defending the viability of specific kinds of activities (of small enterprises) in specific places (rural areas). These cases as a consequence, form a good illustration of the difficulty that a government faces while trying to make compatible the protection of certain traditional activities with free markets. Exploring this idea, the presentation of the court rulings is developed in the first section. In the second section, the economic theoretical categories these cases raised are investigated. This helps to answer to the question of the best way to ensure market niches through products’ quality in the context analysed. Collective trademark as a form of intellectual property right is in particular highlighted. The third section considers the Court decisions on this basis.
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- Charlier, Christophe & Ngo, Mai-Anh, 2006. "An analysis of the dispute European Communities - Protection of trademarks and geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs," 98th Seminar, June 29-July 2, 2006, Chania, Crete, Greece 10032, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
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