France, Italy, Heavyweights Of Lisbon Appellations Of Origin System; Africa Struggling16/05/2015 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now.A small number of World Intellectual Property Organization members this week are negotiating to expand a treaty to protect geographical indications, products like Champagne. Under the old treaty, which protects appellations of origin, over half of the registrations are in France, and another large amount in Italy. According to an analysis, many of the 28 members of the treaty have zero or very few registrations, raising the question of how the new GI protection will be different if agreed. The Lisbon System for the International Registration of Appellations of Origin was adopted in 1958, revised in 1967 and entered into force on 25 September 1966. A look at the current contracting parties shows a diverse group of countries, whether by their economic level or the number of their registrations.Lisbon members by number of AO registrations The treaty is administered by WIPO, which keeps the International Register of Appellations of Origin and, according to WIPO, publishes a bulletin titled Appellations of Origin. WIPO also hosts the Lisbon Express database, through which registered appellations of origin can be searched. The database also provides the products to which registrations apply, their area of production, the holders of the right to use the appellation of origin, along with refusals or invalidation notified by member countries, according to WIPO.Under the Lisbon system, once registered in the international register, an appellation of origin grants protection in all member countries, without any need for renewal, for as long as the appellation is protected in the country of origin.Lisbon members are currently seeking to approve a new act of the agreement, extending the protection granted by the system to geographical indications. They are holding a diplomatic conference within WIPO from 11-21 May (IPW, WIPO, 14 May 2015) to that effect.The Lisbon Agreement currently has 28 contracting parties: Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, France, Gabon, Georgia, Hungary, Iran, Israel, Italy, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Nicaragua, North Korea, Peru, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Togo, and Tunisia.Early comers to the treaty were France, Cuba, Haiti, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Mexico, and Portugal. The latest member is Bosnia and Herzegovina, which joined on July 2013. Greece, Morocco, Romania, Spain, and Turkey signed the agreement in 1958 and 1959 but never ratified it.The extension of the protection to geographical indications, and the possibility for intergovernmental organisations, such as the European Union and the African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI) to become members of the agreement is meant to render the system more attractive and to gain more members, according to Lisbon members.Meanwhile, a number of large global economies, such as Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and the United States protect GIs through the trademark system and have expressed strong concern this week over being limited to non-voting observer status in this GI negotiation they say will affect their export markets.Appellations of origin (AOs) are a subgroup of geographical indications (GIs). WIPO defines GIs as “a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin.” AOs have more stringent production rules than GIs.France, Italy: Lisbon System HeavyweightsFrance and Italy are by far the most avid users of the Lisbon system. France has over 500 active registrations and Italy some 100, according to the Lisbon Express database. Most of the French-registered appellations of origin are “beverages and related products.” Among those are Bordeaux, Saint-Émilion, Beaujolais, Bourgogne (burgundy), and Champagne.Italy registered Gorgonzola, Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Grappa.On the other end of the spectrum, out of the six countries of the African continent, only two of them have registered products: Tunisia (wines), and Algeria (wines). Neither Burkina Faso, Congo, Gabon nor Togo have any registration in the system, although they became members in the 1970s.Non-food products are also registered in the system. Examples are: musical instruments of Kraslice and fine bohemian china (Czech Republic); Trojanska ceramics and Malko Târnovo marble (Bulgaria), Herend porcelain and Halas hand-made lace (Hungary), Habanos cigars (Cuba), Farsh e Dastbaft e Mahi e Khoy hand-made carpets (Iran), and Ambar de Chiapas (semi-precious stones) (Mexico).African Countries: Untapped Potential, Lack of ResourcesSeveral sources from African members of the Lisbon system told Intellectual Property Watch that their country became a member of the Lisbon system in the hope of developing AOs of their own to take advantage of untapped potential of specific local products, which are otherwise exploited by others.However, setting up an AO or a GI proved to be very challenging for African countries, sources said.A delegate from Lisbon member Congo told Intellectual Property Watch that many products could qualify for an AO or a GI. He cited for example Letchi (wild spinach), Tsamtsam (rafia palm tree), and Gamboma yam.Maurice Batanga, director legal affairs, Cooperation and the emerging issues for OAPI, said the group, which generally represents the French-speaking African countries, has specific legislation on GIs, which applies to all 17 OAPI member countries. The OAPI members are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoro Islands, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.Only five GIs have been registered so far by OAPI from member countries, he said. Setting up a GI is challenging for African countries, as a number of steps need to be achieved. These include organising producers, defining the geographical area of production, establishing specifications, agreeing on the production process, and establishing quality criteria, and control measures.Lack of technical and financial resources is hindering countries in their efforts to draw benefit from local products, he said.Should the new act of the Lisbon agreement be adopted as proposed and OAPI permitted to join the system with its 17 members, those members would be under obligation to protect AOs and GIs from the new Lisbon agreement contracting parties, with only 5 GIs of their own to be protected.Separately, on 14 May, the private-sector Organization for an International Geographical Indications Network (OriGIn), representing GI owners, organised a side event to the diplomatic conference on “Geographical Indications (GIs) & Sustainable Development.”In a press release, Massimo Vittori, managing director of oriGIn, characterised the diplomatic conference as “a historical opportunity to establish a robust and truly international system for the protection of GIs.” He said GIs play a “crucial role … in responding to some of the most urgent issues brought about by sustainable development goals as well as the challenges for producers and consumers worldwide represented by GI infringements.”Below is the list of total registrations by Lisbon member countries:France 510 Italy 100 Czech Republic 76 Bulgaria 51 Georgia 28 Hungary 28 Cuba 19 Iran 16 Mexico 15 Peru 8 Algeria 7 North Korea 6 Portugal 7 Slovakia 7 Tunisia 7 Macedonia 4 Serbia 3 Montenegro 2 Israel 1 Moldova 1 Costa Rica 1 Bosnia Herzegovina 0 Burkina Faso 0 Congo 0 Gabon 0 Haiti 0 Nicaragua 0 Togo 0 Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)RelatedCatherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."France, Italy, Heavyweights Of Lisbon Appellations Of Origin System; Africa Struggling" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.