Geographic Indications: heritage or terroir?

Authors: Hazel Moir (Australian National University)

This paper considers geographic indications (GIs) from both the European terroir perspective and the New World heritage perspective. Consumer protection rationales are critically assessed. Arguments about privileges for producers, often couched in terms of rural development and sustainability, raise competition concerns. These are drawn out using material from case law and GI registrations for foodstuffs in the European Union. This identifies the concentrated usage of GIs and the principal competition issues: defining boundaries and generic names and the strength of the granted privileges. The key sticking point in global GI negotiations is “strong-form” GIs which extend producer privileges substantially beyond those provided by trademarks. Options for tackling this major area of disagreement are identified, drawing on the analysis of competition concerns and alternative approaches used in Australia. This greater clarity might reduce the extent of the conflict between Old and New Worlds over legal privileges for geographical indications.

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