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Trademarks are normally used by companies to safeguard the Intellectual Property rights of their goods or services from that of other companies. By applying for trademark protection, the businesses can have exclusive rights over their products, thereby preventing rival companies from using them. The geographical indication can be used to protect the products originating from a particular place. The fame and unique quality associated with such products are exclusively due to their place of origin. Darjeeling Tea, ‘Comte Cheese’, and the word ‘Swiss’ indicating ‘Switzerland’ are some of the well-known trademarks with the GI tag.
Products known for a unique feature that is derived from the place of origin requires protection, just like trademarks protect a brand. The Geographical Indication is a much-needed form of Intellectual Property protection as the violation of which becomes detrimental to the consumers. Products that are widely known for their place of origin are highly vulnerable to misrepresentation.
Consider the case of Comte Cheese, the world-renowned French Cheese. Businesses cannot trademark a product named ‘Comte Cheese’ because the milk used to make the cheese must be from French Simmental breeds. The agents and professionals in UAE recommend that the businesses and owners must perform an in-depth search to ensure that the trademarks do not bear any resemblance to any other trademarks that lay claim to Geographical Indication.
The GI tag helps consumers recognize products by the name of a particular geographical area from where it is produced as per certain standards. The name used as a Geographical indication cannot be licensed to anyone from outside that particular area of origin. As opposed to this, a typical trademark consists of an arbitrary sign, symbol, word or logo that identifies a company, and is not linked to a particular geographical area.
‘Geographical indication’, being a type of intellectual property right, is an important aspect of intellectual property. The term ‘Geographical Indication’ refers to a sign which has a specific geographical origin. Such a sign, when used on the goods, indicate that the goods possess a certain quality, reputation, and such other characteristic attributes which belongs to their place of origin.
In order for a ‘GI’ to be applicable to a particular product, the sign affixed to the product must indicate its place of origin thereby indicating its unique quality. ‘Geographical Indication’ as a right is covered under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883), which is administered by the WIPO and it is also covered under the TRIPS agreement. Under the WIPO, the Standing Committee (SCT) on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs, and Geographical Indications is a forum which discusses and develops policies and laws relating to Geographical Indications.
Article 22 of the TRIPS Agreement mandates that all of its member nations must come up with their own national laws to protect Geographical Indication.’ This indicates that the protection of Geographical Indication is considered the responsibility of the respective nations. The UAE is a member of the TRIPS Agreement and is committed to the protection of Geographical Indication. Broadly speaking, though several international conventions have laid down the rules relating to the protection of Geographical Indication, it is the concerned Nation’s responsibility to provide for and implement its own set of rules and regulations for the protection of Geographical Indication. The UAE, being a member of the TRIPS Agreement, WTO, and WIPO since April 10, 1996, is devoted to complying with the provisions which regulate the geographical indications and various other aspects of the Intellectual Property Laws.
Rights over Geographical Indications entail the following benefits:
• Right to take legal action against infringement of commodities, goods and services.
• Adds more value to the brand based on geographical indications.
• Contributes to the economic prosperity of the region.
Main Legislations concerning the protection of GIs-
• Federal Law Number 17 of 2009 on the Protection of New Plant Varieties(2010)
• Federal Law Number 31 of 2006 pertaining to the Industrial Regulation and Protection of Patents, Industrial Drawings, and Designs (2002).
• Federal Law Number 7 of 2002 concerning Copyrights and Neighboring Rights (2002).
• Federal Law Number 37 of 1992 on Trademarks (as amended by Law No.19 of 2000 and Law Number 8 of 2002).
The Federal Law Number 8 of 2002, as mentioned above, provides provisions for the protection of Geographical Indication and it states as the following:
“Article (3) – The following shall not be registered as trademarks or as component elements thereof-
(6) Geographical names and data when they would create uncertainty as to the origin or source of the goods, the products or the services.
(8) Marks which are likely to deceive the public or which contain false indications as to the origin or source of the products or the services or as to its characteristics, as well as Marks containing an indication of a fictitious, falsified or counterfeit trade name.”
Therefore, it evident from the above set of legislation that the UAE not only grants protection to patents, copyrights, plant varieties, and industrial designs but also advances protection to ‘Geographical Indications’ as well.
Therefore, the concept of ‘Geographical Indication’ is an instrument for linking the quality of a commodity and its geographical origin. It is pertinent to note that with the current globalization and trade liberalization, Geographical Indication has become a subject matter of great significance. Further, the UAE is able to fully reap the advantages of geographical indications and can grant adequate protection to various goods and commodities from infringement. It is possible to register a trademark that incorporates a geographical indication in the UAE. However, the applicant must provide proof establishing a connection between this particular geographic area and the origin of the products or applicant. Additionally, the Registrar will often require a disclaimer for the GI if it is used alone, and protection will be given to the mark as a whole.
Author: Tanya Saraswat, in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email to email@example.com or at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorney.