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Abstract

There are two basic types of legal regime for the protection of geographical indications (GIs). Some systems, notably that of the European Union, define and treat GIs as a distinct type of intellectual property. This approach is also reflected in the provisions concerning GIs in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). Other legal systems, notably those of Australia, Canada and the United States, treat GIs as a subcategory of trademarks. Like trademarks, GIs function principally as a means of providing information to consumers. EU legislation and jurisprudence, however, define GIs more expansively than do trademark-based legal systems, and see GIs as in some ways superior to trademarks. The EU is attempting to incorporate other features of its system of GI protection into the WTO/TRIPS system. But the nature of GIs is somewhat at odds with that of other types of intellectual property.

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