The term geographical indicator (GI) is not commonly known; however, if you have ever heard of champagne (of course you have), the Cornish pasty, or scotch whiskey, you will understand what it refers to in the scope of intellectual property law. Fizzy wine must not be labelled 'champagne' unless it is produced in the Champagne region of France, Cornish pasties must be made in Cornwall, and no whiskey can be called Scotch unless it is produced in the land that also gave us Robert Burns and Sean Connery.
Having the protection of a GI is exceptionally important, not only for SMEs but also for the economy as a whole. For example, in 2018, exports of Scotch Whiskey generated overseas sales of £4.36bn.
What is a Geographical Indicator?
A geographical indicator is a sign which certifies a particular product has been produced in a specific geographical place and possess qualities or a reputation due to that location. GIs are usually related to food, wine, liquor, crafts, and manufactured goods.
What is the value of a GI?
Thanks to the internet and rising incomes, consumers are better educated and more discerning regarding where the products they purchase come from. In addition, climate change has meant people are increasingly motivated to buy from local producers. Finally, certain products from particular geographical regions are viewed to have a heightened sense of value, for example, French cheese and New Zealand Manuka Honey.
What is the difference between a geographical indicator and a trademark?
A trademark can be applied to a name, symbol, smell, sound, or saying (for example, “Let’s get ready to rummmmmble!”). In contrast, a geographical area sets out the parameters of a geographical indicator. Think of it like this - a trademark identifies that a product is made by a particular business whereas a geographical indicator reveals that product or merchandise derives from a distinct territory.
Geographical indicators are incredibly important to producers and the economy of the region the GI applies to. An Intellectual Property Solicitor can assist you with using geographical indicator protection if other companies are selling goods similar to yours and indicating they are from a particular territory when in fact they are not.
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