A geographical indication is a sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that place of origin. Most commonly, a geographical indication includes the name of the place of origin of the goods. Agricultural products typically have qualities that derive from their place of production and are influenced by specific local factors, such as climate and soil. Whether a sign is recognized as a geographical indication is a matter of national law. Geographical indications may be used for a wide variety of products, whether natural, agricultural or manufactured.
An appellation of origin is a special kind of geographical indication. It generally consists of a geographical name or a traditional designation used on products which have a specific quality or characteristics that are essentially due to the geographical environment in which they are produced. The concept of a geographical indication encompasses appellations of origin.
The use of geographical indications is not limited to agricultural products. They may also highlight qualities of a product which are due to human factors associated with the place of origin of the products, such as specific manufacturing skills and traditions. That place of origin may be a village or town, a region or a country. For example, “Bohemia” is recognized as a geographical indication in many countries for specific products made in the Czech Republic, in particular crystal ware.
A geographical indication points to a specific place, or region of production, that determines the characteristic qualities of the product which originates from that place. It is important that the product derives its qualities and reputation from that place. Since those qualities depend on the place of production, a specific "link" exists between the products and their original place of production.
Geographical indications are understood by consumers to denote the origin and the quality of products. Many of them have acquired valuable reputations which, if not adequately protected, may be misrepresented by dishonest commercial operators. False use of geographical indications by unauthorized parties is detrimental to consumers and legitimate producers. Consumers are deceived into believing that they are buying a genuine product with specific qualities and characteristics, when they are in fact getting an imitation. Legitimate producers are deprived of valuable business and the established reputation of their products is damaged.
A trademark is a sign used by an enterprise to distinguish its goods and services from those of other enterprises. It gives its owner the right to exclude others from using the trademark. A trademark will often consist of a fanciful or arbitrary name or device. A geographical indication tells consumers that a product is produced in a certain p