Geographical Indication (GI), an important part of Intellectual Property, has been attached great importance by each government, and becomes one concern in worldwide, bilateral or multilateral trade negotiations. China gave protection to GIs since its accession to Paris Convention in March 1985. By the end of third quarter of 2013, Trademark Office under State Administration for Industry and Commerce has registered or preliminarily approved more than 2000 GIs, 44 of them are registered by foreign applicants.
Many registered foreign GIs have worldwide reputations, such as Scotch Whisky and Bordeaux. Wine, spirit, ham, cheese and other traditional superior agricultural products covers 60% registrations, which shows foreign GIs are mainly liquor and cheese products. Meanwhile those registrations come from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Korea, Thailand, Mexico and Jamaica covering North America, South America, Europe and Asia, dominated by American and European countries, which reflects Europeans and Americans pays high attention to GIs than other people. This particular coverage also supports the intimacy between Intellectual Property system and national economic development-the more development in economy, the more perfect in Intellectual Property System.
The protection to GIs and appellation of origins in China began from March 1985. In 1987 and 1989, SAIC issued documents to protect legitimate interest of “Danish Butter Cookie”. It also released Measures for the Registration and Administration of Collective Marks and Certification Marks in December 1994 to protect GI as certification marks. Three foreign GIs were applied during the beginning year of implementing the Measures (the Measures were implemented from March 1, 1995) and “Florida Citrus” made the first application. In the second amendment of Trademark Law of 2001, GI could be protected as either Collective mark or Certification mark. In 2003, SAIC released the new Measures for the Registration and Administration of Collective Marks and Certification Marks, which quickened the protections to GIs. The newest registered GI is French “Champagne”. In a word, China’s protection to foreign GIs has passed 28 years, starting from administrative protections on the basis of Paris Convention and decrees to registrations on the basis of Trademark Law.
There are mainly two ways to protect GIs among countries: special law mode and trademark law mode. Special Law mode is to protect GI by specialized legislation, implemented mainly in France and some south European countries. Trademark Law mode is to protect GIs by registering collective marks or certification marks.
From practice, Trademark Law in China effectively protects foreign GI holder’s legitimate interest. Since the marketing of “Scotch Whisky”, and its yearly increased market share, there are some infringements in domestic markets. For an effective protection, the Scotch Whisky Association made a collective mark application on February 12, 2007, which registered on May 28, 2008. The registration paved ways for local AICs to enforce the Trademark Law, to timely prohibit infringements and to effectively protect holder’s and users’ legitimate interest.
Recently, one company from France-the founder of Special Law mode, Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux applied 53 GIs in wine before Trademark Office, reflecting that China’s Trademark Law mode has received worldwide recognitions. Once the examination finishes, the foreign GI registration volume would increase greatly. Trademark Office would continue its work to serve worldwide GI applicants in accordance with Trademark Law, make serious and careful examinations and protect legitimate interest of GI holders.