Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Dev S. Gangjee
Chapter 8: International protection of Geographical Indications: the WTO multilateral register negotiations
One of the features of the TRIPS Agreement at the time of its adoption was that not all categories of intellectual property rights regulated therein had the same degree of legal or doctrinal development at the national level; neither had they the same degree of acceptance among countries. This was the case with Geographical Indications (GIs), a peculiar type of intellectual property asset because they do not confer individual rights (such as in the case of patents and trade marks) but rather ‘collective rights’. In such a case, the right over a geographical name does not belong to a single company, but to all producers in a given geographic area that respect a specific code of conduct. Furthermore, the exclusive rights granted by GIs do not extend to exclusivity over a certain category of products, as in the case of patents. The producers of Sherry wine are not entitled, nor do they wish, to prevent others from producing similar wine. The right conferred by the GI is limited to banning competitors outside the defined geographic area (or inside the geographic area, for those not respecting the product specification) from using the name ‘Sherry’ in connection with their products.
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