Geographical Indications and Cultural Heritage

WIPO Journal, Vol. 4, pp. 92-102, 2012

11 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2012

See all articles by Dev Saif Gangjee

Dev Saif Gangjee

Faculty of Law, University of Oxford

Date Written: November 16, 2012


The emergence of claims that geographical indications (GIs) protection furthers cultural heritage goals is a relatively recent development. GIs such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Darjeeling and Bordeaux have historically been protected for reasons similar to those grounding trade mark protection. Granting exclusive rights over such signs prevents cluttered or misleading signalling in the marketplace, which benefits both consumers and legitimate producers. With the informational efficiency foundation established, there is some uncertainty as to where the heritage argument fits in and whether it is necessary at all. However the heritage dimension of regional specialities is increasingly emphasized in policy documents and academic scholarship. This article therefore sets out to: identify the conditions under which the heritage argument was made possible; and evaluate the different forms this argument takes and the types of work expected of it. While cultural heritage is a contested analytic category, as a resource its social, political and economic resonances are undeniable. Its contemporary prominence within the GI discourse has been associated with the potential for GIs to act as a bulwark against the neoliberal excesses of globalization, as well as the continuing significance of place-based communities.

Keywords: intellectual property, geographical indications, cultural heritage, TRIPS

Suggested Citation

Gangjee, Dev S., Geographical Indications and Cultural Heritage (November 16, 2012). WIPO Journal, Vol. 4, pp. 92-102, 2012, Available at SSRN:

Dev S. Gangjee (Contact Author)

Faculty of Law, University of Oxford ( email )

St Hilda's College
Cowley Place
Oxford, OX4 1DY
United Kingdom

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