A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production.
A geographical indication right enables those who have the right to use the indication to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not conform to the applicable standards. For example, in the jurisdictions in which the Darjeeling geographical indication is protected, producers of Darjeeling tea can exclude use of the term “Darjeeling” for tea not grown in their tea gardens or not produced according to the standards set out in the code of practice for the geographical indication.
However, a protected geographical indication does not enable the holder to prevent someone from making a product using the same techniques as those set out in the standards for that indication. Protection for a geographical indication is usually obtained by acquiring a right over the sign that constitutes the indication.
methods focusing on business practices, including administrative product approval schemes.
These approaches involve differences with respect to important questions, such as the conditions for protection or the scope of protection. On the other hand, two of the modes of protection — namely sui generis systems and collective or certification mark systems — share some common features, such as the fact that they set up rights for collective use by those who comply with defined standards.
Broadly speaking geographical indications are protected in different countries and regional systems through a wide variety of approaches and often using a combination of two or more of the approaches outlined above. These approaches have been developed in accordance with different legal traditions and within a framework of individual historical and economic conditions.
Explainer video: Geographical indications and WIPO’s Lisbon System
Geographical indications in action
From Switzerland’s Gruyère cheese to Mexico’s Tequila, geographical indications and appellations of origin are a common feature of everyday life. They not only provide a way for business to leverage the value of their geographically unique products, but also inform and attract consumers. Read more in "Geographical Indications - An Introduction".
The Pinggu district north of Beijing, China, bills itself as the biggest peach farm in the world, providing employment for over 150,000 people.
Laws and treaties
A number of international treaties deal partly or entirely with the protection of geographical indications or appellations of origin. Below are links to relevant treaties administered by WIPO, as well as to the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
The Lisbon System provides a means of obtaining protection for appellations of origin in several countries. This can be done by filing one application with the International Bureau of WIPO, in one language, with one set of fees in one currency.
Diplomatic Conference 2015
A Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of a New Act of the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration will take place from May 11 to 21, 2015.
The Lisbon Express database
The Lisbon Express database is the first step in appellation of origin searches. The database can provide a general overview of international appellations of origin registered with WIPO.
Worldwide Symposium on GIs
The biennial Worldwide Symposium on Geographical Indications brings together government representatives with producers of GI-registered products, legal and other specialists, for an open exchange of views on various issues related to geographical indications.
It contributes to the ongoing debate at the national and international level. Speakers' presentations contain a wealth of information on the practical use of GIs and appellations of origin in different countries.
On the occasion of the WIPO Worldwide Symposium on Geographical Indications a virtual exhibition will be launched on September 6, 2021. The exhibition will offer visitors an opportunity to discover WIPO’s work in the field of geographical indications, as well as examples of geographical indications from Member States around the world for different types of products.