GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS: A tool for economic development

A geographical indication is a sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that origin. Generally, geographical indications include the name of the place of origin of the goods. Examples are “Champagne” from the Champagne region of France, “Pilsen” beer from Pilsen, etc.

 

Geographical indications also referred to as GIs, like trademarks, is a marketing tool but unique on its own. It has the added advantage of being utilized to add value to products originating from rural areas thereby enhancing the economic development of rural people. GIs have been used by the developed countries for marketing products such as wines and spirits, for example, Champagne, Cognac, Tequilla, Pilsen and Havanna. Other known GIs include Ethiopian Coffee, Basmati Rice and Darjeeling Tea. In recent times many developing countries such as India are vigorously utilizing GIs for the marketing of products such as handicrafts.

 

Ghana can also take advantage of this area of Intellectual Property to market products such as Ghana cocoa, Ghana sheabutter, Asante Bonwire Kente, Odumase-Krobo beads, among others.

 

GIs add value to goods and distinguish goods having special characteristics originating from a definite geographical territory from another. Just like other intellectual property rights, GIs are negative rights that give exclusive rights to its authorized users. It excludes others from exploiting the GIs without the consent of the owners. Reputation of goods marketed with such GIs influence consumer decisions.

 

GIs protect and preserve intellectual property related to traditional cultures, geographical diversity and production methods. It also protects a wide range of local products that correspond to the concept of a GI. Such value addition, protection and preservation have the potential of contributing to increasing income, particularly in rural areas. What this means is that products from Ghana with particular qualities, reputation and/or characteristics deriving from geographical area may be protected and marketed using the geographical indication as a marketing tool. This has the potential to boost exports and improve the rural economy where most of such products originate thereby reducing rural urban migration and providing better remuneration for the farmer and the community as a whole.

 

Geographical Indications encourages quality production. This is because the “quality” must always be maintained to ensure consumer confidence in the products and also to protect the consumer.

Geographical indications also have the potential to enhance a country’s renown, and promote the development of tourism.

 

Geographical indications are of particular importance to developing countries.