Application and Rights

The constitutive elements of geographical indication

Updated: Jan 2, 2019 Print
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In China's current laws (promulgated by the National People's Congress and its Standing Committee), only the Trademark Law defines geographic indications: a geographical indication referred to in the preceding paragraph is a sign which indicates a good as originating in a certain region, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to the natural or human factors of the region. Based on this definition, a geographical indication has four constitutive elements.

The first one is the mark of the country of origin. It can be the geographical name or other marks which can represent the country of origin, such as the badge of a representative city or country in a region, a picture of a famous historical building or packaging and decoration of the commodity, or any similar mark. For example, the figure of Baota Mountain on the packaging of Yanan millet can represent Yanan.

Special qualities of the product are the second element, which can be its sensory characteristics, quantitative indicators or the special production methods used to create it. Sensory characteristics include visual features such as shape, size, color, texture, and sense of smell and taste. Quantitative indicators include biological characteristics such as specie, physical characteristics such as weight, density, acidity and alkalinity, and chemical characteristics such as content of water, protein, fat and trace element. Special production methods include the description of process technology and quality standards of the final product. For example, the feeding process and slaughtering method of animal products, a planting process, harvesting time and storage mode of plant products, raw materials, ingredients and production processes of traditional handicraft products.

The third element is the credit of the product. The reason why geographical indications are popular is that the high quality of the products contributes to their reputation. And the reputation of the product is not only related to their history, but is also determined by their unique quality. The unique quality of geographical indication products enables consumers to distinguish them from other similar commodities.

The last one is natural and humanistic factors. Natural factors include climate conditions and geographical characteristics such as soil, vegetation and water source. Humanistic factors are the production methods which can impact the specific quality of a geographical indication product, such as selection of planting areas and control of harvesting time, unique breeding techniques and special production sites.

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