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GEOINDIC - Geographical Indications(GIs Global Intellectual...

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Geographical Indications (GIs) Global Intellectual Property Academy Nancy Omelko—Attorney-Advisor (Trademarks) Office of Intellectual Property Policy and Enforcement United States Patent and Trademark Office What are geographical indications? 0. Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) (1994) defines geographical indication as 0. a product from a region 1. where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the product 2. is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.” Trademarks and Geographical Indications 0. The United States view is that a geographical indication is a type of trademark. 1. A sign functions as a trademark/geographical indication if that sign: 0. If it is distinctive; and 1. If it indicates that the product originates from a particular source. Words that are generic or that merely describe the product are not distinctive 2. For example, “apple” to identify apples is a generic term and is not distinctive. (But note that APPLE certainly is distinctive if it is used to identify another product, like a computer). 3. For example, “fast” to identify restaurant services is merely descriptive of the services and not distinctive. (But “fast” for apples is distinctive.) 4. It depends on which product or service the mark/geographical indication is used on. Acquired Distinctiveness 0. But although a sign that is not distinctive does not function as a trademark, that is not the case if that sign acquires distinctiveness in the minds of consumers. 1. A distinctive term can be a trademark/geographical indication if consumers come to associate the term with a particular source. 2. Generic terms may never acquire distinctiveness. Business Interests/Guarantees 0. More generally, in addition to functioning as source identifiers, geographical indications and other trademarks also share the following characteristics:
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3. Both are valuable business interests; and 4. Both are guarantees of quality. Protection of GIs in US 1. The US protects geographical indications through the same system that it uses to protect other trademarks. 2. Typically, geographical indications are registered as certification marks in the United States. Certification Marks for Origin 3. A certification mark is owned by a party other than the user(s) of the mark 4. is used to certify that the goods originate in a particular location 5. and, because of the characteristics of that location, have reputation. Examples of GIs registered in the US Benefits Owner and Consumer 5. For the owner—is a (possibly very valuable) intangible economic asset. 6. For the purchaser—conveys (possibly very useful) information about the characteristics of the product, and distinguishes them from other products.
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