This article compiled by our General Manager Belgin Sagdic, Trademark and Patent Attorney, Geographical Indications Specialist, was included in the book “GI-Registered Goods” that was published following the II. International Geographical Indications Summit organized by the Ankara Chamber of Commerce on 19 September 2019.
This first section of the article touches upon the definition of geographical registration, the importance of registering geographical indications, the qualities that a product must possess to become a geographical indication, and the registry process.
We wish you a pleasant reading.
ON OUR GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS AND REGIONAL VALUES
In the national arena, the first registered geographical indications emerged after Decree-law No. 555 took effect in 1996. The Decree-law continues to be protected within the framework of the Industrial Property Law No. 6769 that took effect after being published in the Official Gazette dated 10 January 2017.
Geographical indications publicize local goods and their qualities, set standards by preserving the original product without compromising its quality, brand products particular to the locality, increase added value, and not only contribute the producer’s income but also rural tourism and the creation of different business opportunities for the rural population.
Due to their preexisting confidence in the names of certain regions, consumers are likely to prefer products sold with those names over those produced elsewhere. For that reason, it is very much in the interest of locals to place under protection province names that have become the symbol of quality in a product, by registering them as geographical indications.
Another purpose and benefit to geographical indications is to help protect the consumers by preventing deception via the use of geographical inscriptions on counterfeit products that do not possess the necessary qualities.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS AND OTHER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
Geographical indications differ from the other intellectual property rights in that they do not protect a single producer, but an entirety of people who produce under certain conditions.
As geographical indication has spatial, local, regional, national generality and anonymity, so to speak; the rights it provides cannot be attributed to any one person or persons.
WHY TO REGISTER A GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION
* That the standards of the product in question is upheld and the traditional quality of the method of production is protected.
* Because geographical indications lend marketing power to a product and since this is not a monopolistic but collective right that protects its true producers, mediate rural development and contribute to the country’s economy.
MAIN OBJECTIVES FOR THE PROTECTION OF GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS
* To promote variety in types of agricultural production,
* To prevent the incorrect and unrightful use of product names,
* To help inform consumers about a product’s features.
THE 5 KEY CHARACTERISTICS IN ORDER TO LABEL A PRODUCT AS A GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION
1. The product: For a product to be registered as a geographical indication, it must be a natural, agricultural, artisanal or industrial product.
2. A specific region: Indicating products originating from a geographical region with defined borders.
3. Indication: These are signs that can be used to set products apart and to distinguish those with which they are affiliated.
4. Particular characteristics: A characteristic feature may be one related to climactic features such as terrain, humidity, wind, etc. as well as all kinds of human factors, from product processing techniques to materials used. Human factors include any knowledge, skill or experience that distinguishes the product and affects the production phase.
5. The relationship between a product’s distinguishing feature and its geographical origin: A feature protecting cultural heritage and differentiating products subject to geographical indications as well as preventing unrightful use via false indications, preventing fraud.
WHO CAN USE GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS?
Geographical indications may be used by anyone whose product is made in accordance with the conditions articulated by the registry.
WHO CAN APPLY TO REGISTER GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS?
* The manufacturer, provided they can show proof that they are the sole manufacturer of the product subject to the geographical indication,
* Any associations, foundations, and cooperatives working in the public interest and authorized to protect their members’ economic interests,
* Public institutions abreast of the matter and geographical region
WHAT CANNOT BE REGISTERED AS A GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION?
* Names and marks that do not fit the definition of geographical indication,
* Names and marks that have become the product’s own name,
* Names of plant species, animal species or similar that may mislead the public as to the true origin of the product,
* Signs that go against public order and decency,
* Names and marks that are not protected by the member states of the Paris Convention and the founding agreement of the World Trade Organization, or whose protection has expired or are no longer being used
THE REGISTRATION PROCESS FOR GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS
The information on the geographical indication for which a registration application has been submitted is evaluated by the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office. When deemed necessary, one or more institution or organization with expertise on the subject is called upon for consultation, and applications that are found suitable are announced in the Geographical Indications Bulletin.
Beginning with the date of publication, the reclamation period is three months. Along with its justification, any objection made within this period is sent to a specialist or an institution. In keeping with the responses, the registry may either be approved, amended or rejected. In the case of a rejection, the announcement is made in the Bulletin.
“Protection through registration matters.”
The purpose for the registry of geographical indications is to protect goods that through their general characteristics have gained a certain reputation; local characteristics such as means of production and sourcing.
It is widely known that each province in our country, each city district for that matter, is the source and setting for the manufacturing of a certain product for which it is famous.
A great variety of features related to pureness, tradition, sustainability, regional development and competitive capability in the international market are among the added values of geographical indications.
In sum, registration of geographical indications provides protection for;
* the product
* the producer
* the consumer
* our national and cultural values.
Translated to English by: Zeynep Beler