The Lisbon Agreement provides for the protection of appellations of origin, that is, the "geographical denomination of a country, region, or locality, which serves to designate a product originating therein, the quality or characteristics of which are due exclusively or essentially to the geographic environment, including natural and human factors" (Article 2). Such denominations are registered by the International Bureau of WIPO in Geneva upon the request of the competent authority of a Contracting State. The International Bureau keeps the International Register of Appellations of Origin and formally notifies the other Contracting States of the registrations. It also publishes them in the Lisbon system's official bulletin Appellations of Origin. A Contracting State may declare, within one year of receiving the notice of registration, that it cannot ensure the protection of a registered appellation within its territory (Article 5(3)). Such a declaration must include grounds for the refusal of protection. Contracting States may subsequently withdraw a refusal, according to a procedure foreseen under the Lisbon system. A registered appellation will be protected against usurpation or imitation, even when used in translation or accompanied by words such as "kind", "type" or the like (Article 3), and may not be deemed to have become generic in a Contracting State as long as it continues to be protected in the country of origin (Article 6).
Since January 2010, Contracting States have had the option to issue a statement of grant of protection, thus improving communication regarding the status of international registrations in member countries. These statements can be issued by Contracting States that know, well before the expiry of the one-year refusal period under Article 5(3), that they will not issue a declaration of refusal of protection; or the statement can take the place of the notification of withdrawal of a refusal already given.
The Lisbon Agreement, concluded in 1958, was revised at Stockholm in 1967, and amended in 1979. The Lisbon Agreement created a Union which has an Assembly. Every State member of the Union that has adhered to at least the administrative and final clauses of the Stockholm Act is a member of the Assembly.
The Agreement is open to States party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883). Instruments of ratification or accession must be deposited with the Director General of WIPO.