Friday, June 5, 2015

Revision of International Intellectual Property System Approved

On May 20, 2015, at a diplomatic conference held in Geneva, Switzerland, representative delegates from each of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) member states approved the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications (Geneva Act).  The approved revision now allows for the international registration of qualifying products under the term “geographical indication (GI).”

WIPO is a United Nations organization, established in 1967, that seeks to provide a system that “promote[s] the development of measures designed to facilitate the efficient protection of intellectual property throughout the world and to harmonize national legislation in this field.” Currently, WIPO has 188 member state; including the United States of America.

Prior to the recent approval of the Geneva Act, in order to receive intellectual property name protection regarding the identification of a product’s geographic origin, items had to qualify under the term “appellation of origin (AO).”  To qualify under AO, 1) all of a product’s raw materials must come from the place of origin being claimed; and 2) if the product is processed, that processing must occur in the place of origin being claimed.

While the revised Geneva Act continues to maintain AO protection, it now provides for an easier to attain protection regarding a product’s geographic origin.  Under the revised Geneva Act, items may now acquire geographic name protection if they qualify as a “geographical indication (GI);” a mere claim that a product originated in a specific geographical area (such as Mexican Tequila).  A GI does not require proof of, or allow the additional claims, that all the products raw materials are from that location or that the processing of the product occurred at that location. 

The revised Geneva Act is scheduled to go into effect “three months after five eligible parties have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession.”
Written by M. Sean High - Staff Attorney
June 5, 2015

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