What is a Geographical Indication?

A geographical indication is a sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation due to that place of origin. Most commonly, a geographical indication consists of the name of the place of origin of the goods. Agricultural products typically have qualities that derive from their place of production and are influenced by specific local geographical factors, such as climate and soil. Whether a sign functions as a geographical indication is a matter of national law and consumer perception. Geographical indications may be used for a wide variety of agricultural products, such as, for example, “Tuscany” for olive oil produced in a specific area of Italy, or “Roquefort” for cheese produced in that region of France. The use of geographical indications is not limited to agricultural products. They may also highlight specific qualities of a product that are due to human factors found in the product’s place of origin, such as specific manufacturing skills and traditions. The place of origin may be a village or town, a region or a country. An example of the latter is “Switzerland” or “Swiss”, perceived as a geographical indication in many countries for products made in Switzerland and, in particular, for watches.