Berkeley School of Law

We are pleased to announce the 2012 oriGIn Award, organized in cooperation with the Berkeley School of Law.

Topic: Assessing the “GI status” of geographical names protected/used in the United States: an urgent need for objective criteria

Background and guidelines: At present, there is no formal list of Geographical Indications (GIs) in the US and no objective criteria to determine which geographical names formally protected or used in the US qualify as GIs. One can compile a list of registered marks in the US, including certification marks that certify regional origin, collective marks filed by regional or local trade groups for use on their members’ products, and trademarks that include geographical terms. But this list would be both over-inclusive and under-inclusive, the former because not all of these registrations are for products “where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin” (TRIPS Article 22(1)), and the latter because many GIs are not registered, and there is no requirement in the US or TRIPS that they be registered. The same applies to GI wines, as not all American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) – defined by TTB. (27 CFR 4.25(e)(1)) as “a delimited grape growing region distinguishable by geographical features, the boundaries of which have been recognized and defined” nor all political appellations – would automatically fall under the above-mentioned internationally recognized definition of GIs.

In light of the above, the paper should develop criteria to be used to objectively assess which trademark, certification mark, collective marks registered or used in the US, as well as AVAs and political appellations, can be considered GIs (according to the TRIPS definition).

Prize: The winner will receive a prize of 600 EUR.

Internship opportunity: The winner of the Award will be offered a 4-month internship at oriGIn (home based; work schedule: minimum of 4 hours per day to be devoted to the internship). If the winner of the Award cannot accept the internship, it will be offered to another Award contestant based on the quality of his or her paper until the position is filled.

The objective of the internship will be to review all trademark, certification and collective marks protected/used in the US, as well as AVAs and political appellations and – based on the criteria developed in the paper – identify the ones that would fall within the TRIPS definition of GIs. The research is part of an oriGIn project aimed at finalizing an online compilation of all GIs protected in the world. Internship remuneration: from 500 to 700 EUR per month, depending on experience and hours to be devoted per day to the internship.

Deadline for submitting the entries: 6 May 2012 (papers to be sent to Prof. Richard Mendelson @ and Mr. Massimo Vittori @ In submitting the paper, please mention whether you are available for the internship.

The winner will be announced by the end of May 2012. The internship would start at the beginning of June 2012.

Word length: Maximum 5.000 word (not including foot notes).

Target: This Award is open to Berkeley Law students. American Law students from other Universities, who intend to compete for the Award, are invited to inform Prof. Mendelson and Mr. Vittori by March 16.


Winner of the 2012 oriGIn Award: Criteria for U.S. Geographical Indications“, Tara L. Capsuto – J.D. Candidate at the UC Berkeley School of Law.



¡Hazte Miembro! oriGIn la Alianza mundial de Indicaciones Geográficas (IGs)

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