Geographical indications: The cuckoo in the IP nest
Author Sadulla Karjiker
Affiliations: Anton Mostert Chair of Intellectual Property Law, Stellenbosch University
Source: South African Law Journal, Volume 137 Issue 4, p. 763-791
This article critically considers the recognition of Geographical Indications (‘GIs’) as a form of intellectual property (‘IP’), and submits that it is unsuited to protection as a distinct form of IP. It is submitted that GI protection does not accord with established principles of IP law (most notably trade-mark law and the common law of delict), and that its recognition has, in fact, been principally motivated by selfserving protectionism on the part of the EU. There are no sound reasons to justify GI protection as a distinct form of intellectual property, and its recognition says more about the politics of IP law, rather than the merits of this form of protection. That which is proffered as justifications for its recognition tends to be rhetoric and unsubstantiated claims, and relies on a revisionist history of the part played by Europe in the course of the past 400 years. This article seeks to expose the true basis on which developing countries, former colonies of European nations, are being forced to concede to demands to provide greater protection for European GIs, which demands harm the ability of their producers to compete with European producers.