European Union Joins Geneva Act of WIPO’s Lisbon Agreement, Enabling Entry into Force

Geneva, November 26, 2019

The Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications reached a milestone enabling its entry into force, as the European Union (EU) joined as the key fifth member of the international registration system that provides protection for names identifying the geographic origin of products such as coffee, tea, fruits, wine, pottery, glass and cloth.

Ambassador Terhi Hakala, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, deposited the EU instrument of accession with WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, in the presence EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan. With the EU’s accession, the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement will enter into force for all its contracting parties on February 26, 2020.

Photo: WIPO/Albouy [More photos on Flickr]

“The EU’s accession enables entry into force of the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement, while greatly expanding the geographical coverage of this important registration system,” said Mr. Gurry. “As interest in the provenance of products grows, protection of appellations of origin and geographical indications benefits consumers demanding authenticity as well as producers seeking new ways to add value and distinguish their products in an increasingly global and competitive marketplace,” he added.

“The EU has invested more than twenty years’ work to develop a successful Geographical Indications policy, protecting the intellectual property of our farmers and food producers at home and abroad,” said Mr. Hogan. He added. “With this accession to the Geneva Act, we are reinforcing our commitment to promote food quality and traceability at the international level. This will bring clear benefits to our global partners as well as EU producers, consumers, growth and jobs.”

The Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement, adopted May 20, 2015, allows the international registration of geographical indications and appellations of origin through a single registration procedure with WIPO, and permits the accession to the Act by certain intergovernmental organizations, including the European Union and the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI).

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

Together, the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement and the Lisbon Agreement form what is commonly referred to as the “Lisbon System.”


Appellations of origin and geographical indications are distinctive product designations which require a qualitative link between the product to which they refer and its place of origin. Both are interesting marketing tools for producers, as they inform consumers about a product’s geographical origin and a quality, characteristic and/or reputation 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.

Like all intellectual property rights, the rights granted by an appellation of origin or a geographical indication fundamentally have a territorial character and only take effect in the country or region in which the distinctive sign is protected.

The Lisbon System offers an international registration system for appellations of origin and geographical indications through a single procedure with WIPO. By means of a single registration procedure and a minimum expense, the holder of a national or regional appellation of origin or geographical indication may obtain the protection of the distinctive sign in the other contracting parties of the Lisbon System.

Examples of appellations of origin and geographical indications include Kampot Pepper, Darjeeling Tea, Panjin Rice, Café de Colombia, Prosciutto di Parma, Oku Honey, Scotch Whisky, Tequila, Argane, Chulucanas, Khokhloma, Chiangmai Celadon, Swiss Watches and Bohemia Crystal.

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