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GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS. Is the only Champagne French Champagne? Erik W. Ibele Neider & Boucher, S.C./UW Law School. What are geographical indications?. Link a product to a particular region Indicate qualities, attributes, reputation associated with geographic origin

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geographical indications


Is the only Champagne French Champagne?

Erik W. Ibele

Neider & Boucher, S.C./UW Law School

what are geographical indications
What are geographical indications?
  • Link a product to a particular region
  • Indicate qualities, attributes, reputation associated with geographic origin
  • Suggest connection to region’s inherent characteristics (e.g., soil, climate, terrior)
  • May also imply production skills/processes associated with region
examples of geographical indications
Examples of geographical indications

Columbia Columbian coffee

India Basmati (rice)

Greece Ouzo (spirit)

France Champagne (sparkling wine), Roquefort (cheese)

Mexico Tequila (spirit)

Italy Parma ham

Switzerland Etivaz, Gruyere (cheese)

Portugal Port (wine)

geographical indications and trademarks
Geographical indications and trademarks
  • GIs are closely related to trademarks; both indicate product origin
  • GIs and trademarks differ in two ways:
    • A trademark belongs to a particular company; it distinguishes that company’s products. GIs are shared by all producers in the region identified by the GI.
    • GIs attach to a location; trademarks don’t.
territorial nature of gis trademarks
Territorial nature of GIs, Trademarks
  • GI, Trademark protection is territorial
  • International measures
    • multilateral agreements (Paris, Madrid)
    • national laws (Section 44, Trademark Act)
    • regional application mechanisms
  • Registration procedures, protection a function of national law
why are geographical indications valuable
Why are geographical indications valuable?
  • GIs are a marketing tool
  • Reputation for quality associated with place name used on labels, advertising
  • GI-identified products are believed to command higher prices
  • Of particular interest to developing countries
what s the controversy
What’s the controversy?
  • Consumer vs. producer interests
  • Long-time, generic use of expressions that have geographic origins (parmesan)
  • Differing national treatment of GIs

-weaker: (Canada, US) “Canadian Champagne;” “American-made Pecorino cheese”

-stronger: (EU) GI use reserved to producers in the region, even if other origin is indicated

international gi protection wto trips agreement
International GI protection: WTO/TRIPS Agreement
  • Members obligated to prevent use of GIs by nonoriginal producers so as to mislead as to product origin, or constitute competition
  • Higher level of protection for wines, spirits
  • Exceptions:
      • GIs used prior to TRIPS Agreement

(ii) GIs that have become part of common usage

international gi protection bilateral agreements
International GI protection: bilateral agreements
  • EU agreements for wines, spirits with Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, South Africa.
  • EU-US Agreemetn on Trade in Wines (2005)
    • US to limit use of semi-generic names
    • current use “grandfathered”
    • greater US access to EU wine market
gis in the wto doha development round 2001 2008
GIs in the WTO Doha Development Round (2001-2008)
  • Establishment of multilateral system for registration of geographical indications
  • Extension of higher level of protection to products other than wines, spirits
  • “claw back” of certain GIs
  • EU agenda
multilateral gi register
Multilateral GI register
  • Scope of coverage: only wines and spirits vs. additional products
  • Legal effect of registered GIs: legal presumption of protection and obligation to protect GIs vs. advisory function of register
  • Legal effect in nonparticipating countries
extension of higher level of protection for gis
Extension of higher level of protection for GIs
  • Procedural issues under WTO treaty
  • Developing country interests
    • India, Kenya, Thailand
    • have non-wine/spirit GIs
  • New World producers
  • Pragmatic arguments
    • consumer choice
    • existing level of protection sufficient
eu claw back proposal
EU “Claw-back” proposal
  • Would prohibit use of GIs by nonoriginal producers worldwide
  • Examples: Gorgonzola, Parmigiano Reggiano, Roquefort
  • Many GIs have become generic in certain countries
  • Doha Ministerial Declaration procedure dispute
current status of gi discussion
Current status of GI discussion
  • Failure of Doha Development Agenda
    • larger agricultural issues remain unresolved
  • Post-crash perspective
    • many GI products are luxury goods
    • reduction in consumer spending
    • limited development budgets
  • GIs and sustainable development