The New Intellectual Property of Health

The New Intellectual Property of Health

Beyond Plain Packaging

Edited by Alberto Alemanno and Enrico Bonadio

This timely book provides the first legal and policy analysis of the intellectual property (IP) aspects of a rapidly-growing category of regulatory measures affecting the presentation and advertising of certain health-related goods, namely tobacco, alcohol, food, and pharmaceuticals.

Chapter 11: Terroir and public health: can geographical indications of origin promote ‘healthy’ products?

Irene Calboli

Subjects: law - academic, health law, intellectual property law


This chapter considers the following questions. Do geographical indications of origin (GIs) generally identify ‘healthy’ products? And, if so, can GIs promote the production of healthy products and, in turn, become a vehicle to promote public policy objectives related to public health? As I elaborate in the next sections, the brief answer to these questions is ‘maybe, but not really’. In particular, while it can be said that GIs can indeed identify healthy products, they do not always identify healthy products. Thus, it would be inaccurate to say that GIs necessarily promote public health-related objectives. Instead, at least under the current normative framework at the national and international levels, the function of GIs is to identify a variety of different types of product – agricultural, food, beverages and, in some instances, handicrafts – that are grown, manufactured and associated with a specific geographical area. Some of these products can certainly be categorized as healthy, or healthier, products compared to other products available in the marketplace. However, GIs also identify many products that, by common standards, may not be considered healthy products, such as spirits, wines, cheese, sausages, cured meats and even tobacco. In some instances, these products are categorized explicitly as unhealthy and, in general, these products have to be consumed in moderation to avoid negative effects on consumers’ health.

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