World Intellectual Property Organization

Negotiators Adopt Geneva Act of Lisbon Agreement at Diplomatic Conference

Geneva, May 20, 2015
PR/2015/779

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.

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 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, 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.

The Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration was originally concluded in 1958.

Background

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.

Appellations of originand 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.

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.

About WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 188 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society's evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.

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