A geographical indication (GI) is a sign that identifies a product as originating from a particular location which gives that product a special quality or reputation or other characteristic. Well-known examples of GIs include Bordeaux (wine), Darjeeling (tea) and Tuscany (olive oil).
Protection for a GI
In Singapore, a GI can be protected under the Geographical Indications Act (Cap. 117B). It may also be eligible for registration as a trade mark under the Trade Marks Act (Cap. 332). To find out more information about trade marks, please click here.
A GI is distinct from a trade mark. A GI informs consumers that a product comes from a certain place and has special qualities due to that place of origin. It may be used by all producers or traders whose products originate from that place and which share typical characteristics. A trade mark, on the other hand, is a sign used by a business to distinguish its goods or services from those of its competitors. A trade mark gives its owners the right to prevent others from using the trade mark.
Under the Geographical Indications Act, it is not necessary to file an application to protect the GI. In Singapore, the law protects only the GIs of a country which is a member of the World Trade Organization, a party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, or a country designated by the Singapore Government as a qualifying country from which GIs of that country can be protected. In addition, the GI must be protected in its country of origin. The producer, trader or association of such producers or traders of any such GI enjoys automatic protection.
GIs that are not protected
It is important to note the following instances where a GI will not be protected:
Rights and remedies
In Singapore, a producer, trader or an association of producers or traders can sue for false use of a GI by an unauthorised party when the GI is used in the following situations:
A producer, trader or an association can exercise his rights under the Geographical Indications Act by taking legal action against the infringing party, including seeking relief in the form of an injunction to stop the infringing action, demanding for the profits gained by the infringing party at his expense and/or, seeking damages for the loss suffered.
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