Geographical Indications

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A Geographical Indication (GI) is a sign used in relation to products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or reputation essentially due to natural and human factors of place of origin e-g Basmati Rice, Sport goods of Sailkot, Sargodha Kinnow, Multan Mango.

In many countries the protection afforded to geographical indications by law is similar to the protection afforded to trademarks, and in particular, certification marks. Geographical indications law restricts the use of the GIs for the purpose of identifying a particular type of product, unless the product and/or its constituent materials and/or its fabrication method originate from a particular area and/or meet certain standards. Sometimes these laws also stipulate that the product must meet certain quality tests that are administered by an association that owns the exclusive right to licence or allow the use of the indication. Although a GI is not strictly a type of trademark as it does not serve to exclusively identify a specific commercial enterprise, there are usually prohibitions against registration of a trademark which constitutes a geographical indication. In countries that do not specifically recognize GIs, regional trade associations may implement them in terms of certification marks.

The consumer-benefit purpose of the monopoly rights granted to the owner of a GI also applies to the trademark monopoly right. Geographical indications have other similarities with trademarks. For example, they must be registered in order to qualify for protection, and they must meet certain conditions in order to qualify for registration. One of the most important conditions that most governments have required before registering a name as a GI is that the name must not already be in widespread use as the generic name for a similar product. Of course, what is considered a very specific term for a well-known local specialty in one country may constitute a generic term or genericized trademark for that type of product.

What type of products can be protected as Geographical indications?

Geographical indications are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts, and industrial products.

What is the difference between a Geographical indication and a Trademark?

A Geographical indication identifies a good as originating from a specific area while a trademark identifies a good or service as originating from a particular company.

A trademark often consists of a fanciful or arbitrary sign. By contrast, the name used as a geographical indication usually includes the name of a geographical area.

Moreover, as a trademark belong to a specific company so it can be assigned or licensed to anyone, anywhere in the world, because it is not linked to a particular place. In contrast, a GI may be used by key players of supply chain of GI product in the area of origin subject to compliance with specified standards, but because of its link with the place of origin, a GI cannot be assigned or licensed to someone outside that place or not belonging to the group of authorized producers.

Who can get protection of Geographical Indication?

The entitlement to get a Geographical Indication protection varies from country to country. However, usually an association of producers or any concerned Public body may get protection for Geographical Indication.

Who can use a protected geographical indication?

The right to use a protected geographical indication belongs to all key players of supply chain of GI Product in the geographical area defined subject to compliance with specific conditions of production for the product.

What is the Protection mechanism of GIs in Pakistan?

Currently, Geographical Indications can be protected as collective/certification mark under Trade Marks Ordinance, 2001. However, in line with consultation with stakeholders and global best practices, IPO Pakistan has drafted an independent Geographical Indication Protection Law. The Draft GI Law after consultation with stakeholders has been sent to the Ministry of Commerce for its early enactment by the Federal Government.


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