What are geographical indications?

National Institute of Intellectual Property

Geographical indications (GI) is a new, unique object of intellectual property. 

According to the Law "On Trademarks, Service Marks, Geographical Indications and Appellations of Origin" (hereinafter referred to as the Law), geographical indications are a designation identifying a product originating from the territory of a geographical object, a certain quality, reputation or other characteristics of which are largely related to its geographical origin. At least one of the stages of the production of goods, which has a significant impact on the formation of its characteristics, should be carried out on the territory of this geographical object.

The designation can perform the functions of a GI only if it indicates the origin of the product concerning a certain area.

The right to a geographical indication allows its holders to prevent the use of the indication by third parties whose products do not meet applicable standards.

However, a protected geographical indication does not give its holder the right to prevent other persons from producing similar products using the technology specified in the standards for this indication. As a rule, the protection of a geographical indication is based on obtaining the rights to a designation that performs the functions of an indication.

Geographical indications are commonly used for agricultural products, food, wines and spirits, handicrafts and industrial products.

Unlike appellation of origin, GI has several advantages that mainly affect the prospects of this intellectual property object.

So, to register a designation as a GI, the product may not have special properties, and the applicant does not have to prove special properties, mainly determined by natural conditions and (or) human factors of the geographical area.

In addition, all stages of the production of goods should not be carried out on the territory of a geographical object, one stage is enough. Not only the verbal, but the combined designation (pictorial, verbal, letter, etc.) is subject to protection.

 All these advantages together provide flexible protection requirements for applicants.

As an example, we can cite the beer "Pavlodar", which has a reputation and recognition among domestic consumers.

This designation cannot be registered as an appellation of origin, since one of the main ingredients (malt) is produced outside the republic.

However, as a GI, such a designation can be protected, since all other stages are carried out on the territory of the city of Pavlodar.

The legislator has defined a list of designations that cannot be registered as a GI:

- it is not allowed to register GI designations that represent names of geographical objects that can mislead about the place of production of goods, formally indicating the true place of production of goods, but giving an erroneous idea that the goods originate from another territory, containing names of geographical objects that are not related to the place of production of goods.

- the designation, although representing and containing the name of a geographical object, but entered into general use in the Republic of Kazakhstan, is not recognized by the GI as a designation of a product of a known type, unrelated to the place of its manufacture. I.e., we are talking about a designation that has lost its original ability to be for the consumer an indication of the places of the actual origin of the goods and more a designation that indicates its special properties. This usually happens due to the widespread use of geographical indications, which practically leads to a loss of connection with the geographical name of the place of production. For example, well-known designations such as "Swiss cheese", "Brazilian coffee", "Zhiguli beer", "Poltava sausage", "Krakow sausage", "Cologne" (eau de Cologne, Cologne water), etc. have lost their identification with the place of its actual origin.

Unlike trademarks, the specifics of the GI, as well as the appellation of origin, is that the holders of the right to use the GI cannot cede the right to use the GI to anyone and cannot grant licenses for the right to use the GI.

To get the right to use the GI, first of all, you need to apply to an expert organization.

After registration, the owner of the right to use the GI owns the exclusive right to use it, which is certified by an extract from the State Register of the GI.

Registration of a geographical indication is valid indefinitely, provided that certain quality, reputation, or other characteristics of the product are preserved, which are largely related to its geographical origin;

 The right to use the geographical indication is valid for ten years from the date of submission of the application to the expert organization.