What are Geographical Indications and Appellations of Origin?

Geographical indication is the name of a geographical region or a sign indicating that a product or a service originate from a specific geographical locality and possess specific quality and characteristics attributable to its geographical origin.

Designation of origin is a special kind of protection, and shall imply essential or exclusive inherent natural and human factors of the geographical environment resulting in specific quality and properties of products or services.

For designations of origin it is normally required that the process of production, preparation and processing of designation of origin shall be entirely carried out in the designated place of origin.

Designation of origin may grant protection, in addition to the names of geographical regions or signs indicating that a product or a service originate from the specific geographical place, also to traditional geographical and non-geographical names used on products or services that originate from a specific region or a place where complying with the provided requirements.

Geographical indications and designations of origin shall be protected under intellectual property for avoiding infringement and unauthorised use, given their contribution to higher commercial value of products and services in compliance with their specific characteristics and thus acquired reputation.

An effective protection system for these signs is likewise useful to consumers and general public by promoting fair market competition and good business practice. The protection for these signs is favourable to economic development, particularly of rural regions by retaining active workforce and stimulating family farms in these regions, and by preserving and developing specific and traditional production and services.

The protection of geographical indications under intellectual property shall be granted under a relevant registration procedure for indications carried out by the competent body. Once a geographical indication or a designation of origin registered, it may be used collectively by any of producers from the indicated locality who meet the requirements. Normally a registration of user(s) of the indication is also required with the relevant competent body.

Contrary to other types of intellectual property as for example patent, trademark and industrial design, the national legal systems regulating this field may considerably differ from State to State.A geographical indication or a designation of origin is often used with a producer’s sign or a logo (that may be protected under trademark) with a view to concurrently emphasize the individual character and common characteristic of origin of products.

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