Geographical Indication Explained

Intellectual Property
Home / South Africa / Geographical Indication Explained

Geographical indication, known often by the acronym of GI, is a mark that is used on specific products to indicate the origin of the products. The geographical indication can be for a specific town, region, province or country. It is often used as certification for the qualities of the products based on the geographical origin. The indication in many instances serves to show that products are of excellent quality because the place of origin is known for its high level of quality for the specific product. Geographical indication has been used by governments for a long time. Trademarks provide the holders thereof the exclusive use of the marks on their products or services. Geographical indication can be seen as certification marks to support the value and claims of the trademark.

One cannot use a geographical indication for a particular product if that product doesn’t originate from that specific area. Although in the strict sense of the word, geographical indication is not a trade mark it still has as purpose the identification of the geographical location of the products. In Europe it has been a tradition to identify specific food product locations. The European Union adopted a system in 1992 regulating geographical indication. In France a system has been in use for a long time indicating geographical location and quality standards. There are several products which have the mark such as spirits, wines, and oranges.

A geographical indication, just as a trademark must be registered and must meet the criteria for registration. In terms of geographical indications the name must not already be widely used as a generic term for products in a similar category or same. Each of the countries where such is recognized controls and monitors the allocation and usage of geographical indications.

Trademark Search

It is advisable that the trademark be searched before the application is made. We can conduct searches through the records at the South African Trade marks Office. This will provide an indication of whether there are existing trademarks which are identical or similar to yours. Foreign or international trademark searches may also be conducted, should you wish to have a search conducted through the trade mark offices of foreign countries. A search has to be conducted to make sure there is no similar or identical trade mark on the register preventing the registration of your trademark.

Trademark Renewals

Once a logo is registered as a trademark in South Africa, it needs to be renewed every 10 years to stay in force. A registered logo can be protected forever, provided it is renewed every 10 years upon payment of the renewal fee. If your registered trademark has not been used for a continuous period of 5 years, another person may apply to have it removed from the Registrar. It is advisable to do a formal search for any similar registered logos before you apply for your logo trademark.

Trademark Duration

Once a trademark is registered in South Africa, it needs to be renewed every 10 years to stay in force. However, provided you continue renewing your trade mark registration, your rights to the trademark may last indefinitely. If your registered trademark has not been used in South Africa for a continuous period of 5 years, another person may apply to have it removed from the Register.