The team is joined by Guest Kats Rosie Burbidge, Stephen Jones, Mathilde Pavis, and Eibhlin Vardy, and by InternKats Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo, Hayleigh Bosher, Tian Lu and Cecilia Sbrolli.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

AIPPI Congress Report 12: Sparkling wine corks pop as AIPPI passes resolution on geographical indications

The AmeriKat getting her
teeth into some celebratory
champagne
With people suing airlines for serving sparkling wine as opposed to champagne, the topic of geographical indications (GIs) is in the news.  It was also the subject of a resolution at this year's AIPPI Global Summit in Sydney.  Guest AusKat, Tom Reid (Accenture), reports:  
"This blog recently posted on an avalanche of academic material on geographical indications (GIs) and their cousins, appellations of origin (AOs).  To this may now be added a resolution on the topic passed at AIPPI’s annual meeting in Sydney, for which the author acted as secretary for the committee proposing the resolution
To recap and paraphrase, a GI indicates that a product has a characteristic or reputation “essentially attributable to its geographical origin”, whereas an AO is a subtype of GI indicating that the product’s characteristics are due “exclusively or essentially” to the geographical environment from which it originates.
The wine and cheese wars have persisted since the original Lisbon Agreement on AOs in 1958 (most recently revised in 2015 and now known as the Geneva Act).  While AIPPI’s objectives include the harmonisation of intellectual property laws among jurisdictions, it had, until now, refrained from saying much on the topic.
Twenty-eight member national groups contributed responses to a questionnaire preceding this year’s resolution, however, indicating significant member interest.  The responses documented what is a highly variable, patchwork approach to GI or AO protection among jurisdictions, consisting of a calico (note loosely-linked Kat pun) mix of sui generis rights and certification-type trade marks.  The inconsistent treatment is reflected, for example, in the fact that some jurisdictions, including New Zealand and Vietnam, protect GIs (via TRIPS) but not AOs; and some, such as Australia, protect them by sui generis legislation only in relation to certain products—such as wines.
AIPPI’s aim in Sydney was to establish at least a framework for future contributions to, among other things, WIPO’s Lisbon System working group, in which AIPPI has, for several years, participated as an observer.  The resolution adopts some basic principles, including:
  •  definitions of GIs and AOs drawn from corresponding definitions under TRIPS and the Geneva Act;
  • that registrations providing for the protection of GIs and AOs should be available;
  •  that GIs and AOs, both domestic and foreign, should be protected against both “use that is misleading or deceiving for consumers as to the origin or the characteristics of the product”, and “any conduct which harms or unduly exploits or takes advantage of the reputation of the GI or AO”
  •  that injunctions and money damages should be available for infringement; and 
  • that grounds for revocation should include that the GI or AO has become generic.
Détente, however, was not entirely achieved: more strongly-worded paragraphs recommending prohibiting the registering of a trade mark or domain name conflicting with a GI or AO were, after discussion in which the terms “Champagne” and “Prosciutto di Parma” were politely mentioned by delegates, voted down in the plenary session in favour of deferring those issues to future study.
This is, of course, where the real debate lies.  Time will tell whether the same economic factors that have contributed to an inability to find common ground at the diplomatic level constitute, in microcosm, a similar obstacle for AIPPI.
The full text of the resolution will be available at AIPPI’s website."

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