Rethinking GI Extension
RESEARCH HANDBOOK ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS, pp. 146-182, Dev S. Gangjee, ed., Edward Elgar, 2016
36 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2016 Last revised: 5 Nov 2016
Date Written: November 2, 2016
This essay analyses the geographical indications (GI) extension debate that has reached an impasse at the WTO. The debate is over the single issue of whether the TRIPS Article 23 standard of protection – which requires WTO Members to proscribe the use of GIs that identify wines or spirits for such goods that do not originate in the place indicated by the GI in question, “even where the true origin of the goods is indicated or the geographical indication is used in translation or accompanied by expressions such as ‘kind’, ‘type’, ‘style’, ‘imitation’ or the like” – should be extended so as to apply to GIs for all goods. The essay focuses in particular on how and why the EU, as the main advocate of increased GI protection, has failed to put forward a cogent case in favour of extension. It criticises some of the simplistic reasoning that has been used to seek to justify extension and attempts to explore whether other justifications that have not been clearly articulated by the EU and its supporters might exist. This task in turn involves trying to unpack some of the underlying tensions between advocates for and opponents of extension that underpin the entire debate. The essay concludes by arguing that the GI extension debate is ultimately something of a sideshow, and that increased attention needs to be paid to how GIs are being treated in preferential trade agreements. It is here that such terms are dealt with and indeed ‘traded’ more openly as instruments of agricultural and viticultural policy in the context of attempts to secure greater market access for wines, spirits and foodstuffs.
Keywords: geographical indications, GI, WTO, TRIPS, preferential trade agreements
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