Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Christophe Geiger
Chapter 29: Geographical indications and cultural rights: The intangible cultural heritage connection?
Can the protection of Geographical Indications (GIs) – signs which indicate the regional provenance of products such as Prosciutto di Parma, Darjeeling and Cognac – be integrated within a cultural rights framework? Since there has been recent interest in GIs as a potential vector for achieving cultural heritage goals, this suggests an affinity with cultural rights. To develop this line of enquiry, this chapter focuses on two threshold issues: (1) To what extent can the notion of cultural heritage act as a bridge or link between GI and cultural rights protection paradigms? (2) Alternatively, moving beyond a conventional human rights framework, are there parallels between GIs and the notion of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) – as recognised in international legal instruments by UNESCO in particular – which could be more fruitfully developed? In response, Section 2 outlines the basis for the legal protection of GIs and its potential to accommodate cultural heritage policy agendas. It has been suggested that GI protection facilitates the recognition of regional or national cultural heritage. By way of an illustration, the legal protection of wine appellations such as Champagne or Rioja in turn sustains the historic landscapes, architectural features as well as traditional production practices associated with vineyards. Appellation protection allows for ‘place branding’ and where this is successful, traditional local occupations, modes of production and networks of social relations for rural communities are better supported. Once a cultural heritage component to GI protection is identified, this suggests that GIs could potentially be accommodated by cultural rights, within a human rights framework.
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