Geographical Indications

Geographical indications generally protect agricultural products, foodstuffs, wines and spirituous beverages, as well as craft or industrial products. The product corresponding to the geographical indication has a link with the geographical origin. This link may be established by reason of its quality, reputation or other character due essentially to its geographical origin.

Geographical indications

A geographical indication is a sign affixed to products with a particular geographical origin, which possess qualities or renown due to that origin. In order to qualify as a geographical indication, the sign in question must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. As the qualities depend on the geographical place of manufacture or production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production or manufacture.

What are the rights granted by geographical indications?

A right to a geographical indication enables the holders of that right to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not comply with the applicable standards. For example, in countries where the Darjeeling name is protected, producers of this type of tea may prohibit the use of this term in relation to tea that has not been grown on Darjeeling plantations or in accordance with the standards set out in the code of good practice on geographical indications.

However, the protection of a geographical indication does not allow its beneficiaries to prevent a third party from manufacturing a product using the techniques described in the standards that must be complied with in order to use the geographical indication. The protection of a geographical indication is generally obtained through the acquisition of a right to a sign constituting the indication.

Benefits of geographical indications

Consumers are placing increasing importance on the geographical origin of products and many are looking for products with special characteristics. Sometimes the "place of origin" suggests to the consumer that the product will have the quality or characteristic to which it is attached. The geographical indication thus functions as a product differentiator in the market since it allows the consumer to distinguish a product with the characteristics due to its geographical origin from those without such characteristics. The geographical indication therefore plays an essential role in the development of collective marks for products whose quality is due to their origin.

Protecting a geographical indication means giving those who have the right to use it the means to take action against those who use it when they do not have the right to do so and who take undue and gratuitous advantage of its notoriety (this is called "free beneficiaries"). The reputation of a geographical indication is a collective, intangible and precious asset. If it is not protected, the geographical indication may be used without restriction, resulting in a reduction in its value or even its total disappearance.

Protecting a geographical indication is also a way of preventing third parties from registering it as a trademark and reducing the risk of the indication becoming a generic term.

Geographical indications can bring:

  • A competitive advantage,

  • Additional added value for the product,

  • New export opportunities,

  • Brand building.

Subsequently, any professional who wishes to benefit from a geographical indication may, as long as he complies with the approved specifications and is established in the geographical area concerned, apply to the defence and management body (a legal entity under private law, which brings together all the professionals interested in protecting the same geographical indication) to become a member and be added to the list of operators.


  • Draft specifications and guidelines for the product concerned,

  • Define the geographical area concerned

  • Fully prepare the application for registration of a geographical indication,

  • File the application with the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP).