A Geographical Indication (GI) is a sign used on products that originate from a particular geographical location and which possess a quality, reputation or other characteristic linked to that location.
Typically a GI is the place name from which the product originates. For example, the name Champagne properly refers to sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region in France.
Geographical indications help “brand” a product. Products bearing GIs assure consumers that the product is an authentic product from the geographic location indicated and possesses the unique quality, reputation or other characteristic for which the product is known.
Unlike most other intellectual property rights GIs are collective rights. Any producer who makes goods from the particular area and meets the requirements to use that GI can use it.
Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006 (The GI Act)
The GI Act is not yet in force in New Zealand but is expected to come into force in 2017.
The GI Act creates a Geographical Indications Register (the Register) and provides a regime for registering place names as GIs for wine or spirits. Both New Zealand and foreign GIs will be registrable.
Current position in New Zealand
GIs are primarily protected by The Fair Trading Act 1986 and common law tort of passing off. GIs may be registered under The Trade Marks Act 2002, including as a collective or certification trade mark.