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Geographical Indications

A Guide to Geographical Indications

Lindokuhle Mkhize

Lindokuhle Mkhize

01 August 20233 min read

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geographical indications

Ah, the age-old question that keeps us all awake at night – what exactly is a geographical indication (GI)? It's where the protection of geographical indications and intellectual property collide. Imagine a duo backed by the esteemed World Trade Organization's agreement. In this blog, we uncover a guide to geographical indications. 

We also delve into trade-related aspects, geographic origins, and the whole shebang!

So, what exactly is a geographical indication?

A GI is like a fancy birth certificate for products! It tells you where they're made and guarantees their geographic origin. Yeah, products have birth certificates now. This is all thanks to the legal protection of geographical indications. Intellectual property is getting serious, my friends!

GIs help establish a link between a product and its geographic origin. This makes consumers appreciate the unique qualities of agricultural products. It also assists in protecting the producers and their traditional expertise.

Geographical indications linking products and their origins

GIs are not unique to any one country or region. They're found all around the world, representing diverse cultures and traditions. From Champagne in France to Darjeeling tea in India, each GI highlights:

  • Unique characteristics of the products and their origins
  • Traditional knowledge involved in its production

Role of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

While known for granting patents and trademarks. The USPTO also acknowledges the importance of GIs as intellectual property. Through its legal framework, the USPTO:

  • Enables producers and organizations to register and protect their GIs.
  • Allows producers and organizations to assert exclusive rights over the use of international registration.
  • Specifies geographical names for products that have distinct qualities associated with that region.

Laws and treaties covering geographical indications

Different countries have their own laws governing GI protection. These provide a legal framework for the registration and enforcement of GIs. Undertaking geographical indications safeguards the interests of producers and consumers in developing countries.

Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs, and Geographical Indications

Various international treaties cover GIs, offering global recognition and protection. There's the Lisbon Agreement by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Under this agreement, member countries work together. The unity ensures protected geographical indication over products and safeguards products in the International Trade Centre.

The Lisbon Express database

The Lisbon Express database serves as a valuable resource. The database allows users to explore a collection of GIs from various countries. This enables users to understand the significance of indications on a global scale.

The protection of geographical indications

And there you have it, a guide on the role of geographical indications linking products. GIs provide consumers with the assurance of authenticity and quality. GIs also protect the interests of producers.


What is the purpose of a geographical indication?

A geographical indication establishes a link between a specific product and its geographical origin, safeguarding its unique qualities and cultural heritage.

How do geographical indications benefit local producers?

GIs provide local producers with a competitive advantage by highlighting their products' authentic characteristics and high quality, boosting consumer trust and value.

Can a geographical indication be granted to any product?

GIs can be granted to various products that possess qualities, reputations, or characteristics specific to their geographical origin. This includes food, beverages, handicrafts, textiles, and natural resources.

What is the role of the Virtual Exhibition on Geographical Indications?

The Virtual Exhibition on Geographical Indications serves as an accessible online resource, providing educational materials, interactive maps, and images that showcase the diverse array of GIs around the world.

Are there international laws and treaties that govern geographical indications?

Yes, there are international agreements that address the protection and recognition of GIs, such as the Lisbon Agreement on Geographical Indications and Appellations of Origin and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). These agreements aim to ensure fair trade and prevent misappropriation of GIs.

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Lindokuhle Mkhize, a skilled creative copywriter and content lead at Trademarkia, brings a wealth of experience in driving innovation and managing teams. With previous success in starting and growing the Innovation and Marketing department at her former creative agency, Lindokuhle boasts expertise in leadership and delivering compelling content. Based in South Africa, Lindokuhle's work focuses on key themes of creativity, effective communication, and strategic marketing.