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Thursday, 16 June 2022

Patricia Covarrubia

oriGIn on Geographical Indications compilations

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Yesterday afternoon I attended the event on oriGIn worldwide GI compilations. It comprises several speakers from around the world but relatable to Latin America, Sergio Chuez from INAPI was present.

The welcoming was led by Erik Thevenod-Mottet from the Swiss IPO, followed up by Massimo Vittori representing oriGIn. The idea was to share the wonderful tool, that much needed, GI compilation. The talk started by ‘some figures’ 

1. recognising that there are over 13,000 GIs around the world [oriGIn has compiled 9,047 – that are ‘recognized’], and here I made a pause. It was an important remark made by Massimo that ‘recognised’ may not label it as ‘registered’ as some countries may not legally registered a particular GI but still there is recognition. This is important to know because a GI is appreciated by us, society/consumers and while perhaps a GI has not obtained the legal status of registered GI, it still, in our minds, has goodwill. 

2. There are different legal systems, mainly sui generis around the world that protect GI e.g. China, the EU, Africa (OAPI), the Andean countries (South America), Canada, Mexico, Chile, etc 

3. GI is applicable to several sectors not only agro-products but also includes non-agricultural products such as craft [Brazil protects services too] 

4. International legal frameworks are in place: TRIPS, Lisbon Agreement and more recently the Geneva Act 

5. There are over 200 bilateral agreements covering GIs [mainly they follow the bilateral agreement between France and Germany signed back in the 60s - adding an annex with a list of GIs]. 

Massivo moved to explain how the search works (database can be accessed here). I must say that I have tried and it is not complicated at all [I do not consider myself tech-savvy] and it is, I may say ‘ straightforward’. You may search by regions (e.g., South America (you can see all 444); Central America (with 74), etc), or by country. There is also interesting data such as ‘legal protection’ under which the said GI is protected, for instance, sui generis, trade marks, legislative act, etc; as well as per ‘type of product’. Under this, I have been intrigued by ‘services’, knowing the case of ‘Porto Digital’ in Brazil reported in this blog here. The data shows THREE GIs for services; aside from the Brazilian case, there is one in Chile ‘Calidad Aysen Paragonia-Chile (protected as a trade mark); and another, that of ‘Duzdag’ from Azerbaijan as a sui generics GI. Under types of products there is a very meticulous selection e.g., food products/dairy; food products fruits; food products/vegetable oils and fats; non-food product/ wood; non-food product leather; etc. There are 7846 GIs protected under sui generic rights which Massivo asserted is a legal system which is more robustic and solid. 

While I (virtuality) attended all speakers, I engaged with a couple of question when Chuez spoke about the work they do at the INDECOPI. Relating to this report today was the fact that by mere coincidence, yesterday morning I had published in this blog, about collective marks, and the QR code as well as the application been done for free. I therefore asked if there were any incentives for nationals to apply for GIs, here is the answer: ‘…[while GI applications are not free], we offer free and complete technical assistance for the filing, including the organization of the regularity council’ . This is indeed a pretty good offer, and I am sure many micros and SMEs do and will benefit from this. Peru, as many other countries in Latin America, is rich on natural resources and traditional knowledge. Yet, as of today, there are only 10 national GIs: ONE for a spirit, ONE for handcraft and EIGHT for food related products. 

If you attended the event, what are your thoughts? The next GI event would be in Montpellier (5th July), I will be in (physical) attendance, would you? More info on the Worldwide Perspectives on GI here.

Patricia Covarrubia

Patricia Covarrubia