International Symposium on Geographical Indications Convenes in China

Geneva, June 19, 2007

An International Symposium on Geographical Indications (GIs) is being jointly organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing, from June 26 to 28, 2007.
The Symposium will bring together representatives of WIPO Member States’ administrations, producers of GI products and specialists in the field of geographical indications and is a forum for the exchange of ideas and views on various issues relating to the use and protection of GIs. During the course of the three day program, presentations will be made by 24 speakers from 14 countries and five continents, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Some 300 participants are expected to attend this event which will offer insights into the technicalities of the subject and will constructively contribute to the ongoing debate on GIs at the national and international levels.
A GI is a sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that place of origin. Most commonly, a GI consists of the name of the place of origin of the goods.  Agricultural products typically have qualities that derive from their place of production and are influenced by specific local factors, such as climate and soil.  Whether a sign functions as a GI is a matter of national law and consumer perception.  GIs may be used for a wide variety of agricultural products, such as, for example, “Tuscany” for olive oil produced in a specific area of Italy (protected, for example, in Italy by Law No. 169 of February 5, 1992), or “Roquefort” for cheese produced in France (protected, for example, in the European Union under Regulation (EC) No. 2081/92 and in the United States of America under US Certification Registration Mark No. 571.798). Geographical indications are a useful means by which to add value and prestige to niche products in the marketplace.  Certain aspects of GI protection are currently under negotiation in the World Trade Organization as part of the so called “Doha Round of trade negotiations”.

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