A "transcendental moment" for "a very positive spirit", be it whiskey or Tequila

Document PR/2015/779 may not mean very much to anyone, but the title of this World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) media release tells a big story. But first, a little background, kindly provided by WIPO itself:
"Broadly speaking, a geographical indication is a sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that place of origin. An appellation of origin is a similar type of sign, but often with more stringent criteria for usage.

Scotch whisky
Appellations of origin and geographical indications both require a qualitative link between the product to which they refer and its place of origin. Both inform consumers about a product’s geographical origin and a quality, characteristic or reputation (for geographical indications) of the product linked to its place of origin. The basic difference between the two terms is that the link with the place of origin is stronger in the case of an appellation of origin.

The quality or characteristics of a product protected as an appellation of origin must result exclusively or essentially from its geographical origin. This generally means that the raw materials should be sourced in the place of origin and that the processing of the product should also happen there.

Parma ham
In the case of geographical indications, a single criterion attributable to geographical origin is sufficient for the geographical indication to qualify as such, which may also be the specific reputation of the product. Moreover, the production of the raw materials and the development or processing of a geographical indication product do not necessarily have to take place entirely in the defined geographical area.

Additional examples of appellations of origin and geographical indications are Gouda Holland, Argan Oil, Swiss watches and Tequila".
Readers will note that this background explanation does not mention the words "trade mark".  But never mind, now for the news:
"Negotiators Adopt Geneva Act of Lisbon Agreement at Diplomatic Conference

Negotiators approved a revision of an international registration system providing protection for names that identify the geographic origin of products such as coffee, tea, fruits, wine, pottery, glass and cloth.

A Diplomatic Conference was held in Geneva from May 11 to 21, 2015 and adopted the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications. The Geneva Act allows the international registration of geographical indications (GIs), in addition to appellations of origin, and permits the accession to the Lisbon Agreement by certain intergovernmental organizations.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry concluded by thanking delegations from all WIPO member states for their very constructive engagement. He said all delegations showed “an openness to discuss different approaches in a very positive spirit.”

The President of the Diplomatic Conference Ambassador Luis Enrique Chávez Basagoitia, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the diplomatic conference and called the adoption of the Geneva Act a “transcendental moment” for the Lisbon Union and WIPO.

Manx Cat: not a geographic indication
but a genetic mutation ...
The Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement further develops the legal framework of the Lisbon System, which helps promote many globally marketed products such as, for example, Scotch whiskey [not, presumably, to be confused with Scotch whisky], Darjeeling tea and Café de Colombia. Other changes affect fee provisions, scope of protection, protection against becoming generic, and safeguards for respect of prior trademark rights.

An official signing ceremony is scheduled for May 21, 2015 [that's today], at WIPO’s Geneva headquarters. The Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement will enter into force three months after five eligible parties have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession.

The basic negotiating text for the Diplomatic Conference was developed between 2008 and 2014 by a Lisbon System working group with the goal of attracting a wider membership to the System, while preserving its principles and objectives ...".
You can check out the original proposals for amendment on the WIPO website here. The final version, Document LI/DC/16 of 20 May 2015, of the Draft Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications and Draft Regulations Under the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications can be found here.

This blog will return to Lisbon, as it were, once there has been a good opportunity to read the final text and think about it.  Meanwhile this Kat can report that European trade mark organisation MARQUES is thrilled with the outcome, with its GI Team having taken an active part in the consultation process and having been very much in evidence in Lisbon over the past week or so [MARQUES's excitement can be sensed from the increasingly frenetic series of blogposts on its Class 46 weblog here, here, herehere and here].  The organisation's immediate response can be gathered from the text of the following letter to the Conference President, from MARQUES GI Team vice-chair Keri Johnston:
"Mr. President, 
On behalf of the Observer MARQUES, I have the pleasure of congratulating the Member and Observer Delegations, in particular, those who have attended and participated; WIPO; the Secretariat; and the Presidents of Main Committees I and II for their work and diplomacy over the past six years.   
MARQUES attended the first of the 10 Working Group Meetings in 2009.  During the intervening six years MARQUES has been fortunate to observe and participate up to and including this Diplomatic Conference in the form of both written and oral interventions.
Indeed, we were privileged, as an Observer Organization to see some of MARQUES and other Observer interventions over the past six years included in the basic and final text, and to hear and see diplomacy at work.  Congratulations, and thank you Mr. President."
Not everyone is so thrilled with the outcome, though, as Catherine Saez reports here on Intellectual Property Watch, opening:
"... a small number of World Intellectual Property Organization members adopted a new Geneva Act of a treaty protecting appellations of origin and geographical indications. The Act is the revision of a previous treaty which only covered appellations of origin. This adoption was made to the dismay of other WIPO members, which despite efforts to accommodate their views could not reconcile being denied the right to vote in a United Nations body. They said the agreement among a few members could affect all". 
Other trade mark organisations have been slower than MARQUES to react: the INTA Blog promises that an in-depth report of the Diplomatic Conference will be published in an upcoming issue of the INTA Bulletin (INTA is also holding a conference, Interplay between Trademarks, Geographic Names and Indications conference in Rome, Italy on 10 to 11 December 2015). The position of ECTA -- the European Communities Trade Mark Association -- is articulated in a blogpost of 15 May, here. There's nothing yet on the website of the US-based Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO).
A "transcendental moment" for "a very positive spirit", be it whiskey or Tequila A "transcendental moment" for "a very positive spirit", be it whiskey or Tequila Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, May 21, 2015 Rating: 5


  1. Also not to be confused with Scot's Whisky


  2. And we have signatories. 11 according to ipwatch:
    Peru, Togo, Bosnia Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Congo, France, Gabon, Hungary and Nicaragua and Non-members Romania and Mali also signed.

  3. Are you sure Swiss watches should be on that list? How does making them actually in Switzerland make them better? Is it the clean air or something?


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