IP Docketers

Geographical Indication

Analysing The Advantages of Geographical Indications

Geographical indications (GIs) can help improve well-known products’ intellectual property (IP) rights by providing a layer of certification. Thus, doing so is not just a matter of national pride.

The primary definition of the GI concept is relatively straightforward, even though there are many subcategories and regionally specific variations. A GI is “a marker used on items that have a specific geographical origin. And it contains traits or a reputation that are due to that origin,” according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The requirements for a person or organization to obtain a legitimate GI, as with many other aspects of IP law and regulatory regulations, differ widely between nations.

Knowing how they operate is crucial to create GI protection for your products. It is mainly in the jurisdictions that matter the most to your company.

How Geographical Indications GIs operate

The Paris Convention of 1883’s Article 1(2) contains the oldest instance of international acknowledgment of intellectual property. And we now refer to it as a GI. Every agricultural, manufactured, and industrial property’s primary characteristics are “appellations of origin” and “indications of source.”

Despite this treaty, it was in 1919 that France passed the Law Relating to the Protection of Appellations of Origin. And that formalized the fundamental principles of this type of protection in a legally enforceable document. This statute, which is still in effect today, underwent various amendments to clarify that certain commodities could only use protected appellations if produced in particular areas of the country. Roquefort has been a protected designation in France since 1925. 11 years before Champagne, the most well-known product protected by what the French now refer to as an appellation origin contrôlée (AOC).

The 1919 Act is the foundation for most existing GI regulations and shares many of its characteristics.

  • Numerous geographical indications or appellations (e.g., Champagne, Gorgonzola, Bordeaux, Roquefort, Côtes du Rhône) are place names. They vouch for the exclusivity of the designated regions’ products in the linked merchandise.
  • However, a GI certification need not be the location’s name. For instance, The source of mezcal is an Aztec word, “roasted agave,” not from a place in Mexico called “Mezcal.” It must still specify the appropriate region since only a few states in Mexico can produce mezcal.
  • Additionally, GIs can vouch for particular distinctive qualities in products bearing their labels. The high mineral content and acidity of Portuguese Vinho Verde wines. And it contributes to their fresh flavor, which is well known. While Modena balsamic vinegar is a force for its intense sweetness and syrupy viscosity, The distinctive flavor of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is nutty, earthy taste and crumbly texture. Meanwhile, Champagne production’s regulations span everything from minimum alcohol level to aging processes and grape-press outputs.
  • Finally, local characteristics must influence the product’s quality. The natural conditions of the few Spanish regions where they set up are the only reasons why the Black Iberian pigs used to produce Jamón Ibérico flourish. Similarly, Prosciutto di Parma only grows in the province of Parma in north-central Italy, where the 12- to 36-month dry-curing process benefits from a unique microclimate. And the Apennine Mountains produce it. And the Adriatic Sea. Modena balsamic vinegar, another delicacy from Italy, needs to mature for a minimum of 12 years before it can bring out. The provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia are the only ones that grow the grapes used in this well-known dish.

You will likely need to cooperate with trade associations—and governmental organizations to achieve Geographical Indications for a particular product.

  • For instance, a budding winery in the Champagne wine region of France would need to register with the Institut national de Ori
  • gine et de la qualité (INAO) of the French Ministry of Agriculture and, at the very least, establish a relationship with the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC).
  • Additionally, the new winery would like to register its name and other branding components as French or European Union trademarks. And get benefits from the EU’s protected designation of origin (PDO) scheme (EUTMs).
  • It is necessary to grow and register a good print. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) protects the place of origin of goods in the United States, where GI protection operates as a subset of trademarks.
  • Finally, other parties may be involved depending on the product. For instance, a new winemaker in one of the American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) would have to collaborate with the Treasury Department’s Tax. And Trade Bureau (TTB) and local trade organizations representing neighboring wineries.

How GIs may help

A GI label does not grant the same protection as an IP property in many jurisdictions. Such as a trademark. A brand is often a distinct component of a product’s overall IP protection, except in countries like the United States, where the GI process begins with trademarking.

Because of this, they are creating an official GI designation that has effects that can compare to a trademark and an authenticity certificate. They imply that your product was manufactured using the locals’ traditional expertise. And associates it with a place known for its craftsmanship or high standards. They frequently give rise to local, national, and even international renown for goods like Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine and Kobe beef. The label may also be a certification mark if the production associates specific GI requirements. And that is similar to those given to organic goods.

And, most crucially, a GI can be a powerful marketing tool. For instance, the term “Café de Colombia” is a registered trademark in several jurisdictions. And it is a protected geographical indicator (PGI) under EU legislation. The Colombian Coffee Federation (FNC) turned around a sharp decline in coffee prices during the 1950s.

It made sure the country’s coffee would be among the most well-known varieties in the world for decades by using its brand, a distinctive logo featuring a fictitious grower named Juan Valdez. And the words “Café de Colombia.”GIs for more expensive products like Jamón Ibérico, Kobe beef, or Mozzarella di Bufala Campana can guarantee their producers’ ability to set relatively high prices. And sure that customers everywhere will be willing to pay more for a unique character.

Lastly, GIs offer different avenues for legal action in infringement cases. The CIVC may file legal actions on behalf of Champagne vineyards against violators or counterfeiters.

 Geographical Indications protection in all countries

Important distinctions must be taken into account by anyone trying to secure this type of IP fit for their goods, even though the core concepts of what a GI involves are identical worldwide.

Since GI protection is almost always sought and enforced through the nation’s trademark system rather than as a separate registration. And the United States is the most notable anomaly in this regard.

A GI usually exists as a sui generis, correct? However, it will protect a GI with a trademark registration from one with a registered mark alongside it.

The Lisbon System of the WIPO, followed by 56 nations. And the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement are two examples of how it may occasionally extend GI protection to other jurisdictions once it has taken hold in one. In this situation, the best course of action is to be comprehensive. And it gets GI rights and trademarks in all appropriate locations for your company.


A GI is an ideal certification. Because it serves as a tool and a confirmation of consumer awareness to create the most reliable legal protection for your IP, the professionals at IP Docketers can help you navigate the complexity of trademark applications and GI rules.


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