Given external powers, the European Union seems to have the right to accede to the Lisbon Agreement in the first place. Indeed, the Lisbon Treaty amending Article 133 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, which became Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, came into force on 1 December 2009. The European Union has been granted exclusive jurisdiction to conclude an international agreement on the protection of geographical indications, as it falls under trade agreements on the commercial aspects of intellectual property. The European Union currently has legislation on the protection of geographical indications for three product categories: agricultural products and foodstuffs (EC Regulation 510/2006), wines (EC Regulation 479/2008) and spirits (EC Regulation 110/2008). As a Lisbon Agreement, EU rules also provide for sui generis systems (i.e. laws specifically designed to protect geographical indications based on registration). The EU definitions of appellation of origin (AOP) and “geographic indication” (PGI) (Article 2 of Regulation (EC) 510/2006) essentially correspond to the Definition of Lisbon in Article 2. The similarities are more strong with regard to the Lisbon definition of the appellation of origin and the designation of Community origin: they are both aimed at protecting products with a strong correlation between their qualities and/or their characteristics and their geographical origin, since, in both cases, the quality or characteristics are essentially or exclusively attributable to the geographical environment. Compared to the Lisbon appellation of origin, the Community`s definition of the PGI seems to go further, as it requires a less restrictive link between geographical origins and product characteristics. Although there are some differences in terminology, there does not appear to be any significant incompatibility between the EU definitions and the Lisbon definitions.
However, as has already been mentioned, the EU does not have legislation to protect the geographical indications of non-food products, whereas the Lisbon Agreement requires its members to also guarantee the protection of these products. That is why, in the event of accession, in order to meet its obligations under the Lisbon Agreement, the EU should probably adopt specific legislation on the protection of handicrafts and industrial products. Another possibility could be that the EU implements the Lisbon Agreement on non-food products using the Community collective mark, which may, under certain conditions, be constituted by “signs or indications that can be used to refer in trade to the geographical origin of products or services” (Article 66 of regulation (EC) 207/2009). Since membership of the Lisbon Agreement is limited to member states, intergovernmental organisations should have the prior opportunity to accede to the agreement in order to allow EU membership. The Lisbon Agreement could be modified by the example of other international treaties managed by WIPO (for example). B the Hague Convention on the International Registration of Business Models). In this context, studies conducted by WIPO`s International Office are expected to progress during the next working group to be held in Geneva from 30 August to 3 September 2010.