From July 2nd to 4th, AREPO took part in the Worldwide Symposium on Geographical Indications, organised in Lisbon by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Portuguese Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) with the support of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
The Symposium, which takes place every two years, provides a forum that brings together representatives of national administrations, producers of GI products and GI specialists for exchanging ideas and perspectives on issues relating to the use and protection of geographical indications.
The 2019 edition has also offered technical insights and information on recent developments in the field and presented some noteworthy best practices.
International Developments on GIs have been addressed, specifically on the changes brought about by the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement, which is estimated to enter into force by the end of the year.
Then, the discussion proceeded with a regional update on GIs and an overview of the protection of GIs in various jurisdictions, from EU to Africa, China, Russia, ASEAN countries and a focus on some Portuguese-speaking countries (Mozambique, Brazil and Cape Verde).
Mr Francis Fay, Head of Unit on Geographical Indications of DG AGRI of the European Commission, presented the state of the art of the protection granted to GIs in the EU. He updated participants on the role of GIs in both recently signed and under negotiation EU trade agreements, as well as on the results of the third African Union – European Union Agricultural Ministerial Conference, held in Rome in June 2019. Ms. Diana Akullo Ogwal (Policy Officer, Rural Economy and Agriculture Department, African Union Commission) as well, later mentioned the Political Declaration endorsed by EU and AU on the implementation of an African Union Geographical Indication Continental strategy, with the aim of launching an Africa GI training programme and an Africa GI web platform, with the support of European Union.
Besides discussing the economic, social and cultural aspects of GIs, their protection and the enforcement of controls, the conference also dealt with GIs branding and marketing and with the relationship between trademarks and GIs. Plus, in the panel dedicated to Geographical Indications and Common Names, a lively debate on the issue of “genericity” has taken place.
The Symposium has been an occasion to raise awareness on the valorisation of a product through a GI, showing the results achieved by some remarkable experiences, such as the activity carried out by AMIGHA (L’Association Marocaine de l’Indication Géographique de l’Huile d’Argane – the Moroccan Association of Argane Oil GI) with cooperatives of women working in argane production almost all along the production chain, from the collecting of the raw material through all steps of the process. Argane valorisation through the GI is proving to be contributing to the reduction of economic precariousness, to the increasing of socio-economic conditions of women and their emancipation in Morocco. Argane oil is also contributing in fighting against consequences of climate change, since argan trees are acting as rampart against the encroachment of the desert.
Finally, in the concluding panel the challenges and threats posed by internet and the matter of the Domain Name System have been tackled.
2019 edition of Worldwide Symposium ended with an excursion to the José Maria da Fonseca Museum House and its ancient wine cellars, located in the Setúbal Península region.