INTA Bulletin

December 15, 2016 Vol. 71 No. 21 Back to Bulletin Main Page

Committee Spotlight: Geographical Indications Committee

The mention of geographical indications (GIs) can illicit tension among those familiar with the issues surrounding them due to the alternative systems used to protect GIs throughout the world and the resulting differences in views surrounding those systems. The primary mission of INTA’s Geographical Indications (GI) Committee is to develop INTA’s policy position related to GIs and to analyze and provide comments on GI law, practice, and policies on the international, regional, and national levels. The GI Committee also monitors relevant developments and provides comments on international trade agreements addressing GIs.

Reflecting the geographic diversity and different industries of the INTA membership, the GI Committee assists the Association in developing policy that recognizes the importance of protecting trademark rights, while also demonstrating the benefits of GI protection to trademark owners and the importance of the correct use of geographical names in accordance with fair use principles.

In the present term, the GI Committee will examine the need for updating the current INTA Board Resolution on GIs from 1997. It will also consider the model framework for a multilateral GI register that could potentially limit conflicts between GIs and trademarks and improve harmonization and legal certainty. Finally, the GI Committee is examining use of geographic terms in the gTLD system and corresponding regulations.

The GI Committee often is asked to comment on proposed regulations and recently reviewed proposed laws relating to GIs in Azerbaijan, New Zealand, and Pakistan. GI Committee members also responded to requests for comment from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) on the treatment of GIs in the enforcement context and plan to provide comments on GI issues associated with EU legislation.

Other upcoming projects include possible participation in an amicus brief in Argentina, examining certification and collective trademark regulations, monitoring Lisbon Working Group discussions at WIPO, gathering information on bilateral and multilateral treaties, and preparing for possible comments to expanded legislation on non-agricultural GIs.

The current Chair of the GI Committee is Eric De Gryse (Simont Braun, Belgium) and the Vice Chair is Anna Manville (Arnold & Porter LLP, USA). The GI Committee is comprised of three subcommittees focusing on particular aspects of GIs: GI Enforcement, GI Expansion, and International Agreements. Each subcommittee has about 15 members with representation from members in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America.

Be sure to watch for the GI Session the committee will be organizing for the 2017 Annual Meeting in Barcelona on geographic branding issues.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2016 International Trademark Association