Journal Article

Harnessing the development potential of geographical indications for traditional knowledge-based agricultural products

Teshager Worku Dagne

in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice

Volume 5, issue 6, pages 441-458
Published in print June 2010 | ISSN: 1747-1532
Published online March 2010 | e-ISSN: 1747-1540 | DOI:
Harnessing the development potential of geographical indications for traditional knowledge-based agricultural products

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Legal context

This article analyses the regulation of geographical indications in national and international legal frameworks, and assesses their effectiveness vis a vis the needs of indigenous people and local communities. The protection and implementation of geographical indications is examined in light of the cultural and socio-economic aspects of legal and policy debates surrounding the global intellectual property system.

Key points

Simply understood, geographical indications are signs used in connection with goods to indicate their geographical origin. They emerged on the international scene at the centre of three highly debated subjects: intellectual property, international trade and agricultural policy. This article mainly examines the significance of geographical indications in the protection of traditional knowledge based agricultural products in the international intellectual property framework, and assesses their possible use in domestic legal frameworks. In light of contemporary understanding of the link between “development” and “culture,” it is argued that intellectual property instruments in the likes of geographical indications may properly be used to positively protect the knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities in the agricultural sector. It is, however, observed that geographical indications may not be solutions to the vast social, cultural, environmental and economic problems that ensue from the lack of protection of traditional knowledge and, thus, it is suggested that geographical indications are best utilized as part, or independently of a defensive sui generis protection of traditional knowledge.

Practical significance

This article provides in-depth analysis of the concerns that arise in implementing geographical indications as legal frameworks to protect traditional knowledge based agricultural products in developing countries. It is hoped that this paper will prompt further discussion, and will serve as a resource for practitioners, academics, policymakers, and others in analyzing, drafting and negotiating intellectual property issues in the realm of international trade, traditional knowledge, and agricultural policy in national and international contexts.

Journal Article.  14057 words. 

Subjects: Arbitration ; Intellectual Property Law

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