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Absolute protection for geographical indications: protectionism or justified rights?

Xiaoyan Wang

Keywords: geographical indication; absolute protection; consumer confusion; TRIPS Agreement; trade mark

Geographical indications (GIs) are one of the most controversial categories of intellectual property rights. Due to the under-constructed theoretical basis and overlapping dimensions of law, economics, culture and social policy, doctrinal issues associated with GI protection are highly contentious, including the level of GI protection. Countries from the Old World and the New World are divided on this issue. One side claims a higher level of protection for all GIs, known as absolute protection, around the understanding that GIs are different from trade marks, while the other side supports GI protection to the extent of consumer confusion by analogy to trade mark protection.

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