Sausages made in Newmarket, Suffolk have been awarded the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status from the European Commission. The Suffolk sausages join the ranks of protected foods such as Stilton blue cheese and Melton Mowbray pork pies.
The PGI status means that only products actually originating in the specific town, region or country in question may be identified as such (for example, only sausages produced in the town of Newmarket and a very specific surrounding region may be named ‘Newmarket sausages’). Generally, the products in question have very specific flavours or characteristics and so strict rules also govern the manufacture of products marketed under the PGI status. For example, Newmarket sausages must be made from prime cuts of pork from the whole carcass (no offal) and must have a minimum meat content of 70%.
As another example, Stilton cheese can only be produced in the three English counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire (ironically, Stilton village is in Cambridgeshire which is not a designated county, so Stilton cheese cannot be produced in Stilton) and must be made with pasteurised local milk.
Anyone attempting to label their goods under the same term as a PGI (without being based in the relevant area and without the necessary characteristics of the goods in question) is likely to face legal action for example, for passing off and misleading advertising.
Notably, once a PGI is registered, it is impossible to secure trade mark protection for the same term. Applying this to our sausages, the local butchers that make them are allowed to call them Newmarket sausages, but not allowed to register a trade mark for them. However, an alternative to a PGI might be a collective or certification trade mark.
Rachel Cockin – 1 November 2012