Friday, June 22, 2007

Geographical Indications Go China

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing have organised an international symposium on geographical indictions (GI), from June 26 to 28, 2007.

What is a GI?
According to WIPO:

"A GI is a sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that place of origin. Most commonly, a GI consists of the name of the place of origin of the goods. Agricultural products typically have qualities that derive from their place of production and are influenced by specific local factors, such as climate and soil. Whether a sign functions as a GI is a matter of national law and consumer perception. GIs may be used for a wide variety of agricultural products, such as, for example, “Tuscany” for olive oil produced in a specific area of Italy (protected, for example, in Italy by Law No. 169 of February 5, 1992), or “Roquefort” for cheese produced in France (protected, for example, in the European Union under Regulation (EC) No. 2081/92 and in the United States of America under US Certification Registration Mark No. 571.798). Geographical indications are a useful means by which to add value and prestige to niche products in the marketplace. Certain aspects of GI protection are currently under negotiation in the World Trade Organization as part of the so called “Doha Round of trade negotiations”." Read more about GI here.

Read the press release about the international symposium in Beijing here.

What is China's position on GI?
The site of the US Trade Representative reported in 2006:
"China protects geographical indications through a trademark system, administered by the CTMO. However, China has a second system for protecting geographical indications, administered through a separate government agency, which has led to confusion over protection of geographical indications and trademarks." Read more here.

And Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen of Intellectual Property Watch wrote in 2006 about China's self perceived upgrade from a GI semi-friend to a GI friend. Read more here.

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