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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Patricia Covarrubia

Chilean Sello de Origen: Adding value to heritage products

    1 comment:

Image result for sello de origenThis week I received my WIPO Magazine and I was happy to see that Chile made the front cover. I immediately recognised the words Sello de Origen and of course, quickly I went to read the article titled ‘Adding value to Chile’s heritage products with the Sello de Origen’. I felt that I was reading the iptango in a nutshell -- from day one we have cover the news starting from ‘pica’ lemon (Chilean first GI, 2010) to their lovely ‘paine’ watermelons (last GI recorded, 2016). We have also covered other products that are still recognised by the Sello de Origen and thus, we have covered AOs, certification and collective trade marks. For those that are not familiar with this program, The Chilean Ministry of Economy together with the Chilean Instituto Nacional de Propiedad Industrial (INAPI) launched a program aiming to promote traditional products through the grant of Geographical Indication (GI), Appellation of Origin (AO), Collective Trade Marks and/or Certification Marks.

The magazine article puts forward how the program operates and brings a case study i.e. the salt of Cahuil (AO, 2013), and how successful Sello de Origen has been for their trade.

Image result for 2 sides of the coinThe article finishes with some of the words that we use when covering GI in general, which is that GI (in this case Sello de Origen) is a “tool for adding value to the products of …rich heritage”. When explaining the case study, the article acknowledges that the local producers are trying to develop tourism in the region and that they look to capitalize on their product and to encourage younger generations to keep the tradition which helps their future. However, the article does not cover any spoiler. And we all know that GIs do not work for everyone.

Actually, part of the Sello de Origen project is, in its first step, to identify the products, but then, there is a selection process (second step), where products are singled out if they are ‘worthy’ of IP protection. Then the question is: what is to be worthy? Any product which is the creation of a person or group of people not only is worthy of protection but must be protected. This is, if I am not mistaken, the bare notion of IP and its regulation i.e. is a set “of the intangible products of human creativity” (Abbott, Cottier & Gurry) and “Intellectual property law regulates the creation, use and exploitation of mental or creative labour” (Bently & Sherman).

While any product is worthy there is indeed the issue of GI which apart from using it as a tool for enhancing cultural value, it can sometimes have a negative effect since some of these products are created or extracted by farmers or small communities where the value given to the product is given by its uniqueness. If production is pushed and rushed due to demands, individuality will be lost -- as we are reminded in the case studies of Chulucana in Peru and Tequila in Mexico.

This last comment is not of detriment to the Sello de Origen program, on the contrary, it has been always supported by the blog. But it would be correct to see that projects and campaigns also put in ‘black and white’ the flaws and problems that SMEs may face.

Patricia Covarrubia

Patricia Covarrubia


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11 August 2016 at 23:59 delete

Los identificativos de calidad y de origen son una de las mas importantes vías de identificacion marcaria de nuestros dias