Geographical indications: The cuckoo in the IP nest

Author Sadulla Karjiker

ISSN: 1996-2177
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.