WIPO to Mark 50th Anniversary of International Geographical Indications Registration System

Geneva, October 27, 2008
MA/2008/43

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) of Portugal will mark the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration at a Forum on Geographical Indications and Appellations of Origin to be held in Lisbon on October 30 and 31, 2008.

The Lisbon Agreement was concluded on October 31, 1958 at a Diplomatic Conference that took place in Lisbon, giving rise to the Lisbon system which facilitates the international protection of appellations of origin. The Lisbon system became operational in 1966 and currently 26 states participate in it. Administered by WIPO, the Lisbon system offers the possibility of extending the protection for an appellation of origin in one of these 26 member states - i.e. the country of origin of the appellation of origin - to the other 25 member states through a single registration procedure.
 
An appellation of origin is a special kind of geographical indication which generally consists of a geographical name or a traditional designation used on products which have a specific quality or characteristics that are essentially due to the geographical environment in which they are produced. Notable examples of appellations of origin registered under the Lisbon system include Porto (Portugal), Habana (Cuba), Champagne (France), Tokay (Hungary), Prosciutto di Parma (Italy), Tequila (Mexico), Bohemia Crystal (Czech Republic) or Borjomi mineral water (Georgia). The concept of a geographical indication encompasses appellations of origin.
 
Geographical indications are understood by consumers to denote the origin and the quality of products. Many of them have acquired valuable reputations which, if not adequately protected, may be misrepresented by commercial operators. False use of geographical indications by unauthorized parties is detrimental to consumers and legitimate producers; consumers are deceived into believing that they are buying a genuine product with specific qualities or characteristics, and legitimate producers are deprived of valuable business and suffer damage to the established reputation of their products.
 
Although many geographical indications and appellations of origin concern agricultural products, other products with a unique identity deriving from a specific region can also benefit from this form of intellectual property. In an increasingly global and competitive market place, they offer a valuable marketing tool for product differentiation, which is of growing importance as a means of attracting customers. Along with trademarks, geographical indications play a vital role in conveying to the consumer the specific or unique value or quality of a product by highlighting the special features or characteristics that distinguish it from other competing goods.
 
The Forum will address a range of themes including possible improvements to the Lisbon system; the challenges confronting the Lisbon system; and issues relating specifically to the protection and international registration of geographical indications and appellations originating in developing countries. Full details are available at: https://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/details.jsp?meeting_id=16802. The Forum will serve to promote understanding of the Lisbon system, ahead of more formal international discussions scheduled for early next year within the context of a Working Group established in September 2008 by the Assembly of the Lisbon Union. The Working Group will explore possible improvements to the procedures under the Lisbon Agreement.
For further information, please contact the Media Relations Section at WIPO:
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