23 July 2021 News

Delphine M-V., Biénabe E. (2017), “The Multifaceted Role of the State in the Protection of Geographical Indications: A Worldwide Review”, World Development, 28, October, pp.1-11

Geographical indications (GIs) serve to designate goods with quality, characteristics, or reputation attributed to their geographical origin. They are increasingly protected in many countries of the South as a tool for economic, social, territorial, and ecological development. Implemented in the wake of the weakly prescriptive WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) of 1995, the choice of the institutional framework for protecting GIs nationally as well as associated public support infrastructure was left open. This led to divergences in overarching approaches and to GI institutionalization that differs remarkably across countries. Twenty years after TRIPs, the purpose of both this paper and of the special issue is to advance our understanding of the institutionalization of GIs, as an IPR, a quality standard, and a policy instrument in harnessing all of the expected benefits of GI protection. Building upon the contributions to this special issue, we use an original multilevel governance framework to analyze all the multifaceted roles of the state, in different empirical situations worldwide. This reflects the experiences of countries that have only recently implemented GI protection, such as Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa, Kenya, and West African countries, as well as of regions with a long history of GI protection, including the EU and the US. Based on an analysis of the complexity and diversity of all states, we show that global harmonization is underway with convergence toward a prominent role of the state in GI regulation, in particular for defining GI content, which is specific for GIs when compared to other IPRs or quality standards. We suggest that the intervention of the state is supported by a universal desire to guard against unfair exclusion and to protect a common heritage.