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Geographical Indication

A geographical indication is a sign identifying products which have a precise geographical origin and possess qualities, characteristics or reputation linked to their place of origin.

The recognition of a sign as a geographical indication is a matter of national and/or European right. Geographical indications may be used for a wide variety of products, whether they be natural, agricultural, raw or processed, or manufactured.

Geographical indications are protected by international treaties and national legislation, primarily:
  • The 1883 Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property
  • The Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration 
  • The Trade Related Aspects Intellectual Property Rights (TRIP) agreement (ADPIC in French; articles 22 to 24)
  • Trademark laws in the form of collective marks or certification marks (a geographical indication is not an intellectual property title)
  • Laws concerning unfair competition.
Geographical indication is composed of a product name associated with the name of a geographical area. It identifies a product originating from a determined geographical area whose characteristics are linked to this geographical area. These characteristics must be presented as product specifications which are subject to certification. The resulting rules will be the object of inspection procedures to be carried out by an independent body approved by INAO (the National Institute of Origin and Quality). All persons producing in the geographical area in question and respecting the product specifications will be authorised to use the geographical indication. Otherwise, potential sanctions range from a court order prohibiting non-authorised use, to damages and interest and payment of a fine or even imprisonment. 

The notion of geographical indication covers:
  • PDO (protected designation of origin) designates the name of agricultural products and foodstuffs whose production, processing, and preparation must take place in a given geographical area, using recognised know-how.
  • PGI (protected geographical indication) designates agricultural products and foodstuffs closely linked to a geographical area in which at least their production, processing, and preparation takes place.
  • GI (geographical indication) applies to all manufactured and artisanal products and natural resources which are certified by the National Institute of Industrial Property.
  • TSG (traditional speciality guaranteed) promotes the traditional character of agricultural products and foodstuffs, either in their composition or means of production. 

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