FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Contact: Ms. Ida Puzone firstname.lastname@example.org
28 April 2022, Geneva, Brussels, Washington. Over the years, distinctive geographical names have stimulated increased interest in the United States (US). Such names – Geographical Indications (GIs) according to the WTO TRIPs Agreement definition – command a price premium as the result of market differentiation. The sharing of a market by multiple producers in a given geographical area is a distinguishing feature of a GI, and the price premium yields a collective value added that they can share. As trade in GIs grows, the producers generally seek formal recognition of, and legal protection for, their GIs, and they fight against usurpation of their product names and other forms of unfair competition in their country of origin and abroad.
In spite of a growing number of distinctive agricultural products rooted in specific geographical areas, the US is one of the few countries in the world which does not provide an independent system to recognize and protect GIs. Several schemes are available for that purpose, including certification marks. This does not serve legal certainty purposes and rather raise practical issues for the American private actors relying on geographical names for their business, as well as for consumers. Among them: the proliferation of misleading commercial practices as well as prohibitive enforcement costs and unnecessary obstacles to obtain protection in export markets. Overall, the full potential of US GIs on the national economy remains untapped, in challenging times when the Federal Government pursues the objectives of promoting rural development in local communities and a change of paradigm towards embracing the economic, social and environmental challenges of sustainability.
“As US producers and consumers become familiar with, and appreciate, the benefits derived from GIs, oriGIn believes time is ripe to promote a thorough debate on distinctive geographical names among public authorities and the private sector in the US. That’s why we are glad to publish today a paper on distinctive geographical names in the US, which is intended to be the first step of an oriGIn strategy aimed at discussing adequate instruments for US farmers to protect the authenticity of agricultural foodstuff, wines and spirits as well as sound strategies to promote the sustainable development of rural communities in a post-covid scenario. Likewise, we wish to engage in a pragmatic exchange on legal schemes to protect consumers against misleading practices as well as ways to ensure the balance between GI protection and the genericity exception on a territorial basis”, said Mr. Riccardo Deserti, President of oriGIn. “oriGIn and its members are also available to support US producers to obtain protection of geographical names in foreign markets where independent IP systems for the protection of GIs are available”, concluded Mr. Deserti.
More information on American distinctive geographical names is available here