A Geographical Indication (GI) is a mark applied to goods originating from a particular geographical region and have characteristics or a reputation specific to that region. Many geographical indicators are often in the food and beverage industry, such as France’s Roquefort cheese, India’s Darjeeling tea, and Mexico’s Tequila liquor. Consumers purchasing items with geographical indications want to know that the goods originated in the region and adhere to applicable standards, so certain restrictions on using geographical indicators are necessary to safeguard their valued reputation. This article will explore the meaning of GI and how to protect it in the UAE.
Definition of GI under TRIPs Agreement: Article 22.1
Article 22.1 of the Trade-Related Aspect of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) Agreement defines GIs. It specifies the minimum degree of protection provided for GIs designating a particular kind of product.
It defines GI as a sign used to identify a good as coming from a particular location, which could be the territory of a country, a region within that territory, or a locality within that territory, and possessing a specific quality, reputation, or other characteristics that are primarily attributable to that geographical origin.
Essential Elements of GI
- It is a Sign
Article 22.1 is silent on the kind of sign that qualifies as a geographical indication. Geographic names are often composed of words or word combinations. For instance, the term ‘Roquefort’ refers to a location in France where ewe’s milk cheese is produced.
- Function as an identification:
GIs, like trademarks, serve as a means of identification. Unlike trademarks, which help to differentiate one enterprise’s products from those of another, GIs serve to indicate the place of the good’s origin. For example, although many nations produce tea, the term ‘Darjeeling’ refers to tea produced in that area of India, whereas ‘Ceylon’ (the old name for Sri Lanka) refers to tea produced in that country.
- The subject matter of identification
Article 22.1 is only applicable to goods. It is not, however, restricted to any specific kind of product. Thus, all categories, whether agricultural produce, foodstuffs, handicrafts, or industrial goods, may be included. Each signatory country to the TRIPs Agreement has the authority to decide the subject matter of GI protection.
- The geographical origin identification
A GI may represent the name of jurisdiction or region. It may be a noun or an adjectival phrase. For instance, the word ‘Colombia’ in Café de Colombia and the word ‘Swiss’ in Swiss Made for watches denote the nation connected with the GI.
The GI could be the name of a region, such as ‘Beaujolais’ for red wine produced in eastern France, ‘Napa Valley’ for wine produced in the United States of America’s state of California, ‘Pinggu peaches’ for peaches produced in China, or ‘Idaho’ for potatoes produced in the United States of America’s state of Idaho.
- GI guarantees Quality, reputation and other essential characteristics.
A critical criterion of Article 22.1 definition is that the GI-identified product has a particular quality, reputation, or other feature that is primarily attributable to its geographical origin. In other words, there must be a direct connection between the geographical indicator and these characteristics. Consumers understand geographical indications to indicate the source and quality of goods. The unauthorized use of geographical indications harms consumers and genuine manufacturers. For instance, olive oil from a specific region of a nation may have an unusually high concentration of specific organoleptic components.
Examples of GI in the UAE
Arab nations have many instances of using geographical indications; among the finest examples include Yemen’s Doan honey (Doan is a renowned valley in the Hadramout region), Oman’s Halva, and the UAE’s Masafi.
Rights protected by GI
A geographical indication right entitles the holder to prohibit the indication from being used by a third party whose product does not meet relevant criteria. For example, in jurisdictions where the Darjeeling geographical indication is protected, producers of Darjeeling tea may avoid using the term “Darjeeling” for tea that is not grown in their tea gardens or not produced following the standards outlined in the geographical indication’s code of practice.
However, a protected geographical indication holder cannot prohibit another party from manufacturing a product using the same methods as those specified in the standards for that indication. Generally, protection for a geographical indicator is acquired via acquiring a right over the sign that serves as the indication.
Category of Products covered by GI
Agricultural goods, foodstuffs, wine and spirit beverages, handicrafts, and industrial products are usually designated with geographical indications.
Difference between a Geographical Indication and a trademark?
- Trademarks enable customers to connect a product or service with a particular quality or reputation based on information about the business that manufactured or provided it. GI classifies a product as having originated in a specific location. Consumers may connect a product with a particular quality, feature, or reputation based on its origin.
- A trademark is often an illustrative or arbitrary symbol that may be used by the owner or another person allowed to use it. However, a sign used to indicate a GI is often the same as the name of the product’s place of origin. Furthermore, GI is a name by which the good is recognized in that location. A GI may be used by anybody who produces the product under established requirements in the region of origin.
- A trademark may be granted or leased to anybody, anywhere globally, since it is associated with a specific business rather than a particular location. However, because of the GI’s connection to the place of origin, it cannot be given or licenced to anybody who is not a member of the group of approved manufacturers.
Protection of GI in UAE
Trademarks in the UAE are regulated by Federal Law No. (37) of 1992 on Trademarks. The Trademarks Law is silent on the subject of geographical indicators. On the other hand, geographical indications may be deemed trademarks if they are utilized to differentiate products or services based on their production, selection, or marketing. In the UAE, geographical designations for alcoholic drinks cannot be registered. A trademark that misleads customers regarding the origin of a product cannot be registered under the Trademark Law.
It is possible to register a trademark that incorporates a geographical indication in the UAE. However, the applicant must provide proof establishing a connection between this particular geographic area and the origin of the products or applicant. Additionally, the Registrar will often require a disclaimer for the GI if it is used alone, and protection will be given to the mark as a whole.
The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the subject. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to know more about the GIs and related protection. Trademark experts like Farahat and co. are among the finest in the UAE, ensuring that businesses’ trademarks are protected across the UAE. Register your trademark hassle-free.