- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 4, 2006

BLOOMBERG NEWS

The European Union plans to let companies worldwide protect regional or traditional food and drink names in the 25-nation bloc, a step that would allow Florida oranges, Idaho potatoes and other American goods to compete as such alongside European delicacies.

The European Commission said yesterday that it will simplify rules that register 720 names — including Welsh lamb, Breton cider or Parma ham — to let companies or producer groups bypass their governments to make direct applications. The new system also would end a requirement that governments provide equivalent protection in their home market.

After the United States revived a complaint in 2003, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in March last year that the EU’s “geographical indications” could limit traditional names to their original regions or processes, as long as foreign food producers were allowed to register names such as Idaho potatoes or Florida oranges in the bloc. The ruling also allowed Anheuser-Busch Cos. can keep the “Budweiser” name it shares with a Czech rival.

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