Geographical Indications: Implications for Africa

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Geographical Indications: Implications for Africa

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Trade Briefs ~ Catherine Grant

The issue of geographical indications (GIs) has been around for many years and has long been the subject of heated debate in a number of international fora. Controversy arises around GIs when their protection is considered. Like other intellectual property rights, GIs are sought to be protected by producers so that they can make the most of the associated qualities, characteristics or reputation in a bid to maximise profits.

The first section of this paper provides a brief definition of a GI and some historical background to the concept. Some protection has been offered for GIs in the context of the intellectual property regime under the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). This paper, however, focuses on the discussion on GIs that is currently taking place in the World Trade Organization (WTO). It identifies the key groups that have put forward positions on the issue and looks at the prospects of reaching an agreement on GIs in the lead-up to the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting. The final section of the paper identifies some of the implications of this debate for the African Group.  


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