Geographical indications

Last updated: 09.01.2020. This publication fully complies with the provisions of the new Law on Marks and Geographical Indications, promulgated on 13.12.2019.

Geographical indications are names of a place, region or country, which are used to identify products that come from these places and the products have the quality, reputation or other characteristics that are due exclusively to the geographical origin. Geographical indications indicate the geographical origin of a product and the presence of specific characteristics attributable to that origin.

The protection of geographical indications is of significant importance economically and culturally. Production of products protected by geographical indications increases employment, creates new jobs, keeps the population in the region, develops tourism in the region and in this way promotes the latter. Moreover, they also create great value for local communities through products that are deeply rooted in tradition, culture, and geography. Almost all of the countries have a variety of local products, which correspond to the concept of geographical indications but only a few of them are already known or protected globally. The scope of protection of geographical indications can be in various fields of human activity, but the most common are items such as wines, cheeses and more.

Geographical indications unite producers of goods who produce their products in a given geographical area. The right to a geographical indication can be exercised by more than one producer if he is a registered user of the geographical indication and exercises his production activities in a given geographical area and the quality of the produced goods meets the quality and the specific characteristics of the registered geographical indication.

Geographical indications are two types: appellations of origin or indications of source.

An appellation of origin is the name of a country, or of a region or locality in that country, that serves to designate goods originating therein whose quality or characteristics are due essentially or exclusively to the geographical environment, including natural and human factors.

An indication of source is the name of a country, or of a region or locality in that country, that serves to designate goods originating therein whose quality, reputation or other characteristics can be attributed to that geographical origin.

Geographical indications are also considered traditional names that meet the requirements for designations of origin and geographical indications. A conclusion can be made from these definitions that the appellations of origin and the indications of the source are names of the place, region or country, which are used to identify products that come from these places. The difference between the appellations of origin and the indications of source consists in the fact that in the appellations of origin for the quality of the product except for the geographical environment the human factor is also an influence, while in the indications of source the product qualities shall be determined only by the geographical origin.

The level of protection of geographical indications in terms of their territorial action could be:

1. National level – the legal protection of the geographical indication is provided through registration with the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria and the legal regime is regulated by the Law on Marks and Geographical Indications (Trademark Law). The procedure for registration of geographical indications with effect on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria will be developed in a separate article.

2. Protection within the EU – the protection within the EU is granted under several regulations depending on the type of products.

3. International registration – Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration of 1958. It is important to note that it only regulates international registration of appellations of origin. Bulgaria joined the Lisbon Agreement, which is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1975. Twenty-eight countries are members of the Agreement and in this case, with only one application protection in all 28 member states can be obtained. The only condition is that the designation of origin shall be registered at the National Office in the country of origin and the application for international registration shall be filed through the Office of the respective country.

So far a total of 1060 designations of origin under the Lisbon Agreement have been registered, as for Bulgaria the number is 51 and some of the most famous registered designations of origin are Vratsa limestone, Troyan pottery, Bulgarian yogurt, Bulgarian peeled tomatoes, Bulgarian pepper powder.

Finally, the protection of geographical indications is crucial, because the unique quality of Bulgarian products is promoted due to the geographical environment and rich national traditions. Geographical indications give high added value to products, which contributes to the promotion of our country.

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Legal Disclaimer: This material prepared by Krasimira Kadieva aims to provide information about geographical indications. It does not constitute a legal opinion and cannot be interpreted as individual consultation on any concrete facts or circumstances. The advice of an intellectual property specialist should be obtained for specific questions and situations. For more information on the above-mentioned issues and individual consultations, please contact Krasimira Kadieva at 00359 882 308 670 or make an inquiry using the contact form of this website. Krasimira Kadieva is a Bulgarian and European trademark and design attorney.