Ensuring and Preserving the Unique Qualities of Origin Products
Geographical Indications (GIs) ensure and preserve the quality and reputation of origin products. Consumers benefit greatly from GIs, which convey valuable information concerning the products’ characteristics, obtained in accordance with strict specifications verified by independent bodies. Differentiating the production based on its geographical origin provides revenues and ensures pride to millions of producers around the world.
Unfortunately, GIs constantly face the challenge of third parties trying to take advantage of their hard-earned reputation. For example, fake “Champagne” is sold as if it was an original product from the Champagne region of France, and products are marketed as “Colombian Coffee” that are not 100% Colombian in origin. The phenomenon of GI misappropriation is increasing putting the reputation of origin products and the jobs thriving around GIs at stake. Why make the effort to produce a high quality product, abide by strict internal rules, and gain reputation in the marketplace, if anyone can use a GI and exploit the reputation producers have built over decades of hard labour?
At oriGIn, we think this is unfair. In response, we have become the voice of GI producers within the main international and regional forums, including the World Trade Organization (WTO), the European Union (EU), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). (Advocacy). In 2008, oriGIn played a key role in forging the coalition (including a large majority of WTO Member States) that supports the extension of the high protection of art. 23 of the TRIPS Agreement to all GIs, as well as the establishment of a truly multilateral register for all GIs within the WTO. Moreover, oriGIn helps its members reduce monitoring costs in foreign markets and reach out to policy makers in case of abuse. Our members send us information concerning potential infringements taking place in their regions, and oriGIn acts to stop them through public campaigns and legal advice (oriGIn Market Watch).
Unity is Strength
oriGIn represents some 350 organisations of producers from 40 countries. Through this international network, GI groups and organisations exchange experience and “best-practices.” At our regular international events (conferences, exhibitions, round-tables, etc.) your organisation will have the chance to meet GI producers facing similar challenges, as well as experts and potential business partners.
oriGIn has also become a partner to all relevant international actors. There is no seminar, symposium or workshop dealing with GIs that can be considered complete without oriGIn’s participation and the private sector point of view that our organisation brings.
Knowledge is Power
GIs have become a global phenomenon. As a result, national laws are rapidly evolving. Are you familiar with your national regulation concerning GIs? Do you know the applicable rules in foreign countries where you are (or wish to be) exporting? Do you know the implications for GIs arising from the current reform of the EU quality policy? Are you aware of your local authorities’ position on GIs? Does your organization wish to be part of this process?
oriGIn provides invaluable technical support in the form of periodical reports, newsletters, studies, information on court decisions and national laws, as well as other material on GIs (oriGIn Info Service). oriGIn’s network represents a unique source of information on the main issues dealing with GIs (legal protection in major markets, quality control, marketing, etc.).
Promoting Sustainable Development
GIs play a key role in the sustainable development of local communities. Deeply rooted in the culture and traditional knowledge, GIs ensure conservation of local resources, which also contributes to food security. Moreover, GIs prevent the delocalization of production. A GI can only be produced in a given area which confers the product – by virtue of its climate, “terroir” and/or human factors – its specific characteristics. As a result, big corporations are prevented from “capturing” the added value of traditional products and related methods through the appropriation of these techniques and the production outside the area of origin.
oriGIn is involved in various technical assistance projects aimed at helping producers and communities take full advantages of the local GI potential (Cooperation Projects). oriGIn also advocates for an increase in the development funds devoted by multilateral and bilateral donors to GI-related projects.