How Does A Geographical Indication (GI) Work?

Mar 20, 2019
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Written by Jenelle Miranda

What is a GI?

A geographical indication (GI) identifies a good as being from a particular region and having an attribute of that region. The attributable qualities of a region may refer to a particular quality, reputation, method of production, ingredients, or environmental/agricultural attributes which give a distinctive quality.

The difference between a region name and a GI

A GI is not the same as adding the name of a place on a product. Advertising goods as a product of a region does not certify it as a trademarked item, with any special attributes of that region. On the other hand, a GI is registered intellectual property, with rules that must be complied with to use on goods. Goods using a GI need to have the attributes of the region which the rules of the registered GI have set out.

Obtaining a GI

The process of obtaining a GI is similar to a standard trademark, but with additional steps. A product must be a Certified Trademark in order to be a GI. To qualify for a Certified Trademark, a good needs to meet the specified standards of quality, content or production provided during the application process. Developing a set of rules of the attributable standards of the region, for other products to follow, will then make the Certified Trademark a GI.

A GI rules requires the specification of the:

  • certification requirements to be a Certified Trademark
  • process to determine if goods meet the certification requirements
  • attributes a person must possess in order to assess whether goods meet the certification requirements
  • requirements to use the certification trademark
  • procedure for resolving a dispute about whether goods meet the certification requirements
  • procedures for resolving general disputes.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) independently assesses these rules to verify:

  • compliance to competition principles
  • abidance to fair trading policies
  • that there is no adverse affects to the public interest

Wine Australia administers GIs for wines through a different system.

Once enforceable, GI registration is then valid for a period of 10 years from the filing date before it lapses. However, every 10 years, it can be renewed if renewal fees are paid.

Benefits of a GI

GIs can have numerous benefits when registered correctly and managed well. GIs can be a powerful marketing tool, with a value that increases with the growth of consumer recognition. Further, they create standards and assurances about the quality or features of a product, possibly attracting a price premium. GIs also benefit producers because legal restrictions make it easier to stop others from undermining the reputation of a region.

Contact one of our trademark lawyers to get started on obtaining a GI, or check if your goods meet the requirement to carry a GI.

Have more questions? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.

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