The production of spirit drinks is a tradition rooted far in ancient times. The alcohol industry is oftentimes a key industry and economic force in modern countries where Ukraine is not an exception.

A large number of commercial fields depend on the alcohol industry. For example, manufacturers of pharmaceutical preparations, the production of antiseptics, agriculture and energy sectors, etc.

As far as everyday life is concerned, spirit drinks are an integral part of the dining and party experience for millions or even billions of people around the world. When it comes to someone’s favorite drink, spirits are always special.

They are often an important addition to public events, holidays and commemorative events. People drink alcohol with friends, when meeting after long separations, anniversaries, memories, etc. Alcoholic beverages also play an important role in many religious traditions.

There are numerous types of alcoholic beverages in the modern world. These include; whiskey, vodka, wine, liquor, rum among many others.

The regulation of production, sale, advertising, licensing for sale, etc. of alcoholic beverages in Ukraine is established by appropriate laws.

Moreover, the marking of alcoholic beverages by business owners is connected with the use of rights for intellectual property objects, in particular, quite often with the use of the appellation of origin (AO), the protected designation of origin (PDO) or geographical indication (GI).

As a part of the fulfillment of Ukraine’s obligations under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement regarding spirit drink regulation, on the 25th of December, 2022, the President of Ukraine signed the bill on geographical indications for spirit drinks into law. This bill was earlier adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament, and would come into effect by the 29th of December, 2024 after its two year transition period.

Geographical indications refer to distinctive names or signs which are used in identifying products whose attributes, essential qualities or reputation relate to their geographical origin, which could be a specific country, locality or region.

Before the approval for the registration of a GI by the relevant department, which is, the Expert Commission of the Ministry of Agriculture, certain requirements would need to be met.

These include:

  • A description of the essence of the product, including a list of the raw materials used in producing it as well as all features relating to its geographical origin.
  • The transcription of the name to be registered in the Ukrainian alphabet if it is indicated in any other foreign language.
  • The category of the name to be registered.
  • An accurate description of the geographical area, its perimeters and all features that demonstrate links between the product and the geographical area.
  • A detailed description of the methods of manufacturing the product.
  • Any guidelines or specific requirements for the label of the geographical indication.
  • Information on certification authorities which would validate the compliance of the product with its geographical origin.

Registration of the Spirit Drink GI and Transition Period:           

After the approval of the product by the Expert Commission of the Ministry of Agriculture, there is a 90-day window within which the Geographical Indication would need to be filed at state organization “Ukrainian national office of intellectual property and innovations”.

The examination and subsequent registration of the product must comply with the current and updated laws for geographical indications. A complete application is required to include the approval document, the necessary application form, as well as a single document detailing the main features of the specification.

The transition period gives manufacturers a timeline between 25th of December, 2022 and 29th of December, 2024 when the law enters into force, to make necessary preparations. The product would need to be adjusted to fit with any new categories and all preparations needed for registration and certification of the Geographical Indication would be carried out.

Understanding the Rights for a Registered Geographical Indication

To use a registered Geographical Indication, a manufacturer or producer would need to be recorded as an authorized manufacturer of the product in the State Register of Geographical Indications. To qualify, their product would have to be manufactured in compliance with the specifications of the GI. The right to register or use a Geographical Indication can be attributed to a single producer, a group of producers, or in certain situations, an authorized state department.

The law prohibits the use of registered Geographical Indications for products which have not been registered as GIs. Violation of this law would attract fines of EUR 1,700 for individuals and EUR 2,500 for legal establishments.

Categorization and Description and of Spirit Drink

The categorization of over 40 categories of spirit drinks is provided in Regulation (EU) 2019/787 with each category based on their method of production and composition, as well as their chemical, organoleptic and physical qualities. By law, spirit drinks are defined as alcoholic beverages intended for human consumption with a minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 15% (as well as “egg liqueurs” with a strength of minimum 14%), produced by a certain set of methods or a combination thereof. With the new and updated law, spirit drinks are also defined as a sub-type of alcoholic beverages.

We hope the aforementioned update on recent legal changes on geographical indications for spirit drinks will be useful for the owners of alcohol businesses.

If any additional information is needed, our trademark team will be happy to assist.