GIs are about to get the international protection status
Darjeeling, Cognac, Tequila, Chianti are some of the names associated with certain products of specific geographical region. These products, such as Darjeeling tea of Darjeeling have earned a great reputation throughout the world for certain unique qualities and these products have become valuable assets for the local producers. The products are often exposed to misappropriations and counterfeiting by third parties due to it’s high commercial values.
Therefore, the legal protections of these products are highly desirable to maintain the quality and originality of the products. The legal protection was provided by “Geographical Indications” (GI) and “Appellations of Origin” (AO), based on the recognition of the association of their quality or characteristics with a specific geographical area. The GI and AO were protected in accordance with international treaties and national laws.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) took an initiative to formulate a mechanism for the legal protection of GI Products. In the first step of their initiative, members of the WIPO made an agreement at Lisbon. The Agreement was adopted in 1956 and came into force from September 25th., 1966. The Agreement was revised at Stockholm in 1967. The Lisbon system classified the GI products into two categories. The GI products which have higher commercial values will be protected by a special trademark provided by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
This special trademark is known as “Appellations of Origin” (AO). WIPO also decided that International Bureau of WIPO would keep an International Register of “Appellations of Origin” which would be available from the website of WIPO. On the other hand, other GI products were protected under the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Many nations were vocal against the dual standard of protection. They said that the AO products are getting more protection than GI products. Many countries did not sign the treaty to mark the protest against the discrimination. Only 28 countries have signed the treaty still now.
The Working Group on the Development of the Lisbon System (Appellations of Origin) requested the International Bureau of WIPO to find out a single mechanism that will cover the protection of both the Geographical Indications and Appellations of Origin. The working group submitted a Draft Revised Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications in the sixth session of the working group which was held at Geneva from December 3rd. to 7th., 2012. The draft resolution was discussed thoroughly in the next session that was held from April 29th. to May 3rd., 2013 at Geneva. In this session, the members of the working group has accepted the draft resolution for providing the same level of protection.
WIPO secretariat issued a summary by chair. The summary indicates that member states have recommended the convening of a high-level negotiating meeting in 2015 to approve the modified draft resolution. The working group agreed that a recommendation be made to the Lisbon Union Assembly in September 2013, to convene a diplomatic conference for the adoption of the revised instrument in 2015. Members of the working group are now expecting that the new revised draft will attract a wider membership.
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