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TRIPS Agreement: Towards a Better Protection for Geographical Indications?

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Title: TRIPS Agreement: Towards a Better Protection for Geographical Indications?
Author: Martin, Jose Manuel Cortes
Abstract: Geographical Indications (GIs) are intellectual property rights. Like trademarks or commercial names, GIs are distinctive signs which permit the identification of products on the market. They do not, however, protect products or production methods as such, but, rather, confer to all producers from a given geographical area the exclusive right to use a distinctive sign to identify their products if they possess a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic attributable to their geographical origins. The purpose of this Article is, first, to describe how the WTO strives to secure effective protection for GIs, and, second, to explore the prospects for further development based upon these ongoing negotiations. In order to accomplish these objectives, the Article must first review the international protection of GIs prior to and under the TRIPS Agreement, followed by reviews and critiques of the various proposals for a multilateral system of registration set forth during negotiations. Next, the Article considers the appropriateness of expanding the system to establish additional protection for products other than wines and spirits. The Article then concludes by arguing in favor of further GI protection and for WTO Members to shoulder their responsibility by providing greater protection for GIs. Doing so ensures that TRIPS remains an effective multinational treaty and sets an example for compliance by other Members. This compliance would be particularly helpful for developing countries which are becoming aware that products identified with their country, or a given region within their country, can contribute mightily to their economic development.
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Date: 2004

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