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WIPO Director General Visits Portugal, Opens Conference on Geographical Indications

July 2, 2019

The effects of globalization are driving increased consumer interest in geographical indication-protected products that possess qualities or a reputation due to a particular origin, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said Tuesday at a conference on the topic.

(Photo: WIPO/Grazioli)

Worldwide Symposium on Geographical Indications

Speaking at the opening of the July 2-4, 2019, Worldwide Symposium on Geographical Indications – organized in cooperation with the Government of Portugal – Mr. Gurry said: “The reputations of specific products with origins in particular geographical localities are particularly important in a globalized world,” noting: “When people travel, they don’t seek the same things as they find at home. They seek diversity. So there is an economic as well as a social value in diversity. And geographical indications are a very powerful instrument for capturing that value associated with diversity.”

“But globalization has also increased the vulnerability of geographical indications to misappropriation …. And these developments highlight the need for a reliable international system for the recognition, registration and protection of geographical indications,” said Mr. Gurry.

“It’s a challenge that has occupied, not just WIPO, but many different fora, at many different levels and configurations of international origins, whether bilateral, plurilateral or multilateral,” said Mr. Gurry.

During his two-day trip to Lisbon, the Portuguese capital and site of the Conference, Mr. Gurry met Minister of Justice Francisca Eugénia da Silva Dias Van Dunem and Minister of Culture Graça Fonseca, among other engagements with Portuguese and European Union officials, including Executive Director Christian Archambeau of the European Union Intellectual Property Office.

Protecting geographical indications

At WIPO, two systems for the international registration and management of intellectual property rights are directly relevant to geographical indications, namely:

Developments concerning the recently adopted 2015 Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications featured on the program of the Symposium.

The Geneva Act has been acceded by Cambodia, Côte d’Ivoire and Albania and it is expected that further instruments of ratification or accession will be deposited in the coming months bringing that Act into force.

I think, after long discussions at the international level, we have come to a certain stability in the international legal framework of protecting geographical indications. I should like to extend very many thanks to Portugal for showing us the way in so many ways in respect of connections, of geography and the protection of geographical indications.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry