The Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications officially entered into force on 26 February 2020, three months after the accession of the EU.
The Geneva Act brings a much-discussed broadening of the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration, to allow for international protection of geographical indications via a single application process at WIPO. The application of the Lisbon Agreement was previously limited to appellations of origin, which have a stricter registration criterion.
The Geneva Act further provides for the possibility of intergovernmental bodies to become contracting parties to the Lisbon Agreement. This will include possible joint applications in case of trans-border geographical areas, provided that an agreement is made between the adjacent contracting parties. (Might this mark an end to "neighbourly" spats as to who is the rightful owner of a geographical indication for, say, a specific type of wine, sausage, or ham? This remains to be seen!)
In addition to the broader scope of application of the Lisbon Agreement, the Geneva Act provides for a stronger level of protection of geographical indications and appellations of origin, extending to their use in relation to different goods, as well as on services, if such use dilutes, impairs or takes unfair advantage of the reputation of the protected name. It also clarifies their relation with prior trade mark and other rights, which has led to a number of notable cases over the past few years.
The international registry established by the Geneva Act should facilitate the protection of geographical indications and appellations in a number of overseas jurisdictions, similarly to the existing WIPO international registries for other IP rights, such as trade marks and designs. Of course, it will be up to the offices of the relevant contracting parties to analyse the applications for compliance with their own legislation.
Last but not least, an acknowledgment: These remarkable changes in the GI landscape would not have been possible without the hard work of many at WIPO, various IP Offices and the wider IP world, including many dedicated members of the MARQUES GI team, both former and current. Thank you to all.
Marijana Kozakijevic of Mikijelj Jankovic & Bogdanovic is a member of the MARQUES GI Team. Thanks to Louise Gellman of CMS UK, also a member of the Team, for her input