Sunday, 28 November, 2021

Aubusson tapestry, Limoges porcelain … Geographical indication, precious sesame for business


For six centuries, the city of Aubusson (Creuse) has been associated with the art of tapestry. Better, since Friday December 7, the Aubusson tapestry and the Aubusson carpet also benefit from a geographical indication. “The Aubusson tapestry already had Unesco recognition but that did not allow us to be legally protected” explains Géraldine Cauchy, director of Lainamac, the association bringing together professionals who carried the case for approval for these two geographical indications. A protection component far from being incidental: “When you typed ‘Aubusson tapestry’ on Google, it was not the companies in our territories that stood out”, specifies Geraldine Cauchy referring to “unfair competition”.

Benefiting from legal protection is one of the main reasons that push manufactured products to seek a geographical indication. This possibility has been offered to them since the so-called “consumption” law of 2014 which extended to them this right until then reserved for agricultural and wine products. And which met a strong demand. “After the entry into force of the implementing decree, we received our first request in two weeks,” recalls Antoine Ginestet, in charge of geographical indications at the National Institute of Industrial Property (Inpi). It was Marseille soap. A product that has yet to receive the geographical indication due to a conflict between different associations, each carrying their own vision of the product.

a tapestry. Better, since Friday December 7, the Aubusson tapestry and the Aubusson carpet also benefit from a geographical indication. “The Aubusson tapestry already had Unesco recognition but that did not allow us to be legally protected” explains Géraldine Cauchy, director of Lainamac, the association bringing together professionals who carried the case for approval for these two geographical indications. A protection component far from being incidental: “When you typed ‘Aubusson tapestry’ on Google, it was not the companies in our territories that stood out”, specifies Geraldine Cauchy referring to “unfair competition”.

Benefiting from legal protection is one of the main reasons that push manufactured products to seek a geographical indication. This possibility is in fact offered to them since the so-called “consumption” law of 2014 which extended to them this right until then reserved for agricultural and wine products. And which met a strong demand. “After the entry into force of the implementing decree, we received our first request in two weeks,” recalls Antoine Ginestet, in charge of geographical indications at the National Institute of Industrial Property (Inpi). It was Marseille soap. A product that has yet to receive the geographical indication due to a conflict between different associations, each carrying their own vision of the product.

Seven products with a geographical indication

Like Marseille soap, around fifteen applications have already been submitted to Inpi. But at present, only seven products have landed the precious sesame. The Aubusson carpet and the Aubusson tapestry thus joined the headquarters of Liffol which obtained it in December 2016, granite from Brittany, porcelain from Limoges, stone from Burgundy and garnet from Perpignan. If the application for approval highlighting the know-how and reputation of the product must be made by a non-profit organization – often an association bringing together professionals in the sector -, once the geographical indication has been approved by Inpi , each company must be individually certified. In the case of Limoges porcelain, which received this qualification a year ago, some 5 companies have already been certified and 5 more should be very soon.

“It had become urgent to protect the Limoges porcelain appellation”, confirms Alain Mouly, president of the Limoges porcelain manufacturers union and of the Limoges porcelain geographical indication association. “Limoges porcelain is a product entirely made – and decorated if it is – in Limoges or Haute-Vienne. If a decor workshop in Paris buys porcelain in Limoges and decorates it in its workshop, it does not. could not call it Limoges porcelain. “

What economic impact?

But the geographical indication is not limited to legal protection. “It is a real guarantee of the authenticity of the product, notes Antoine Ginestet. And for companies, it is a marketing tool.” “It is a guarantee in terms of provenance and traceability and we hope that this will have an impact on the volume of business”, confirms Geraldine Cauchy, who speaks of the “sales force” of the logo. The Aubusson carpets and tapestries sector weighs around 5 million euros, but the geographical indication could also have an effect on the entire sector, such as spinning mills and dyers, also notes the director of Lainamac. Very soon after the establishment of geographical indications for manufactured products, the sub-prefecture of Creuse met with stakeholders to raise their awareness of the benefits of such a label.

Since Limoges porcelain obtained a geographical indication, “its decoration workshops have moved to Haute-Vienne”, also notes Alain Mouly, noting the positive impact in terms of jobs. “With the 2008 crisis, the overall turnover of the sector had fallen by 40%. In 2015, we returned to the level of 2007 and today, at the end of October, we were at + 3% compared to this 2007 benchmark level. This is an encouraging sign, “he adds. And the geographical indication reinforces the image of a luxury product associated with Limoges porcelain, especially abroad. Especially since “companies in this sector work between 60% and 80% for export.” One more tool to promote regional know-how well beyond France. However, the geographical indication does not necessarily guarantee legal protection outside France.

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