By Candace Westby
Trade Mark Examiner
Ms. Westby works for CIIPO, which provides information about IP protection in the Cayman islands. Get Creating Cayman is a regular column on your rights and responsibilities under Cayman’s IP laws. For more info, visit email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where is it From?
Do you prefer Roquefort over “blue” cheese, or Darjeeling over “black” tea? How about Cognac and Scotch? Yes, you guessed it; these are protected by a special area of IP known as geographical indications (GIs).
GIs are products that have a certain nature and quality; they are known for their geographical origin and have certain characteristics associated with that origin. GIs usually consist of the name of the place where the product comes from, like “Jamaica Blue Mountain” coffee or “Swiss” watches, but sometimes they include a word or words associated with particular geographic locations, such as “Argan” oil.
Did you know Champagne is actually a region in France, where the grapes used to make this specific sparkling wine are located? How about Tequila, which is actually the city in Mexico where the blue agave plant, used to make this distilled beverage, is located? Both Champagne and Tequila are geographical indications.
For a sign to be registered as a GI, it must identify the product as coming from a specific place. The applicant must also prove that the product possesses certain qualities or reputation that is almost entirely due to where the product comes from. The product must be directly linked to where it is made.
Let’s take the example of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. The climate in the eastern end of Jamaica, where the Blue Mountains are located, is known for abundant rainfall that contributes to thousands of tower-ing trees and lots of flowering plants. The terrain, rainfall frequency, Blue Mountain mist and overall conditions contribute to the particularly flavourful coffee grown in this area of the island.
In fact, according to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the coffee qualities directly linked to Blue Mountain include the good shape of the beans, unique flavour, intense aroma, and delicate acid balance and sweetness. But not all coffee grown on any part of Blue Mountain produces such beans. In fact, the Jamaica Blue Mountain designation can be used only on beans that are grown on the mountain between elevations of 3,000 and 5,500 feet, and that are inspect-ed by the Jamaica Coffee Industry Board.
Because of their highly regulated quality, which is associated with their origin, GIs tend to fetch a high-er market value than their more generic counterparts. For those who have the right to use this IP, GIs al-low you to take legal action against persons who use them without per-mission.
Like trade marks, GIs are distinctive signs used to distinguish goods and services. Both serve as indications of origin that allow purchasers like you to buy products based on the qualities you trust of a particular brand. In Cayman, GIs will be registrable as a collective mark or a certification mark under The Trade Marks Law.
Can you think of other geographical indications? Is there a product in Cayman that has a particular quality based on a specific location in Cayman? Let’s hear your thoughts as you get creating, Cayman!