What is a geographical indication?
Geographical indications (GIs) are protected under the TRIPS Agreement as an intellectual property right and are under the jurisdiction of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Article 22.1 of TRIPS defines geographical indications as “indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to it’s geographical origin.”
While INTA supports the protection of geographical indications as an intellectual property right, INTA firmly advocates that such protection must not prejudice other existing IP rights, including trademarks. Harmonious coexistence of GIs and trademarks is possible as long as conflicts between these rights continue to be resolved pursuant to the well-established IP principles of territoriality, exclusivity and priority. The priority principle means that a validly registered prior trademark should prevail against a later geographical indication and vice versa.
INTA has served as the voice of trademark owners before the WTO Secretariat and with a number of WTO member states in reference to the protection of GIs.
INTA has closely followed the ongoing negotiations within the WTO on the establishment of a multilateral system of notification and registration of geographical indications for wines and spirits. These negotiations have produced many disagreements among the different parties in the framework of the Doha Development Round since 2001, and various proposals presented by Hong Kong, the European Commission, and the governments of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States have not achieved the necessary consensus among WTO members in order to move forward.
In order to help break the deadlock, INTA has put forward a substantive Proposal for a Multilateral System of Notification and Registration of GIs for Wine and Spirits pursuant to TRIPS Article 23(4)