Elgar Commentaries series
The protection for geographical indicators (GIs) was one of the most contentious issues surrounding TRIPS and it remains so. The main source of this contention was the disagreement between the US and the EC on the issue. The latter has had a system of registration of GIs for some time while the former did not. Multilateral protection for GIs, as such, was very limited outside of the EC until TRIPS although there are various bilateral agreements between the EC and other countries to protect GIs for wine. There were also, and still are, some relatively minor multilateral agreements for their protection or for the protection of similar forms of intellectual property such as appellations of origin. While relatively minor in the sense that only a few nations subscribe to those agreements, some of the terminology in those agreements has informed the drafting of the TRIPS provisions and their influence on TRIPS has therefore been quite significant. Part II, Section 3 TRIPS (GIs) provides for two different forms of protection. The first is conferred on all GIs. The nature of the protection required is to prevent misleading conduct, in particular, conduct that implies that products originate from a geographical region other than that indicated by the GI. As general laws prohibiting misleading conduct in a commercial context cover such situations, this aspect of the protection provided to GIs is uncontroversial and relatively easy to comply with.
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