The Geographical Indications Act has been valid since 10 January 2000. As Estonia acceded to the EU, an amendment was enforced according to which the national law does not regulate the geographical indications of those agricultural products, foodstuffs and alcoholic drinks that are protectable on the level of the European Union. It is still possible to get national protection for geographical indications regarding goods and services of artisanal or industrial origin. In 2022, the European Commission prepared a proposal for new legislation that, if passed, will protect artisanal and industrially produced products as geographical indications at the European Union level. The possibility of applying for geographical indications protection for services within the country remains after the new act enters into force.
The legal protection of geographical indications is regulated in the EU by Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012, (EU) No 251/2014 and (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council. In addition to that, protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks is governed by Regulation (EU) No 2019/787. Geographical indications of Estonian origin Estonian Vodka and Sõir have been registered on the basis of the two aforementioned regulations.
Pursuant to the geographical indications protection act, geographical indications are registered by formal registration system. A geographical indication may be in word form or figurative. An applicant may be a person who acts as the producer, processor or preparer of the good, renderer of the service, or an association of consumers or persons, or a competent authority of the country of origin of the good or service. Protection for a geographical indication is granted by registering it in the state register of geographical indications and a relevant notification is published in the official gazette of the Estonian Patent Office.
The geographical indication differs from other intellectual property rights by the fact that it does not have a specific owner, and the protection has no end date. The goal of protection is to ensure fair competition between manufacturers and to offer the consumers a reliable product with certain fixed qualities. In 2022, no applications for registration of a geographical indication were filed. There were 6 registered geographical indications in the state register of geographical indications on 31 December 2022.