14 Sep 2018

IPKM expert lecture by Yashaswini Bangalore Srinivas


“‘Danbo’ registered as Protected Geographic Indication by the European Union based on Codex standard specification. Is it justified?”


Protected geographic indication (PGI) is an intellectual property (IP) monopoly granted to select group of producers from a defined geographical area based on a product specification to use the name to market the product. These names originate in a certain geographical area and start off being distinctive and indicative of geographic origin. To facilitate barrier free food trade, countries are allowed to rely on international food standards like the Codex and ensure equal market access to food products originating domestically and from foreign producers in so far the legal product specification is met, including using a certain name on the label. However, questions-legal and trade related-arise when a PGI specification meets a Codex standard specification, which occurred recently in the Danbo example.  Within the current EU GI regime, the system does not consider standards as evidence to demonstrate no causal geographical link, for showing a term as generic to deny protection. WTO-TBT agreement that facilitates food trade on the other hand recognizes Codex standard only to the extent that national food laws are enacted. What results in these situations is an awkward maneuvering for producers and difficult policy questions left unanswered in the context of trade agreements.