The Measures for the Protection of Geographical Indication Products released by China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) will come into effect on February 1st.
The Measures, including seven chapters and 36 articles, are an upgrade in the accreditation, management and protection of geographical indication (GI) products from the Regulations on the Protection of Geographical Indications formulated by the former General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine in 2005. The Measures were designed to better leverage the policy role of GIs in promoting the development of regional specialty industries, serving diplomacy and foreign trade, promoting trade and investment, sustaining traditional culture and boosting rural revitalization, and to retain the original features of "local specialties".
Advancing high-standard accreditation
CNIPA is responsible for receiving and examining applications for the protection of GI products, and accrediting GI products in accordance with law. Strictly following the procedures for the examination and accreditation of GI products, and promoting the examination and accreditation of GI products in accordance with high standards is of far-reaching significance to the full protection of GIs.
With respect to the examination standards and accreditation procedures of GI products, the Measures specify the definition and basic features of GI products and the six circumstances of the denial of accreditation, optimize the examination procedures by putting the opposition procedures after the technical examination, and add the procedures for alteration and revocation. Notably, compared with the Regulations, the Measures, for the first time, explicitly provide that GI products should have four features: authenticity, territoriality, specificity and relevance.
Deepening high-standard management
The 14th Five-Year Plan for the Protection and Use of Geographical Indications focuses on consolidating the foundation of GI protection and management, and improving the level of GI protection and management. In light of the circumstances that the Regulations refer little to the use and management of GI products and special marks, and lack clear operation guides, the Measures set forth concrete measures for high-standard management, and further make clear applicants' management responsibilities, manufacturers' obligation to produce in accordance with standards, and the responsibility of local intellectual property administration departments for regular oversight.
"The Measures specify the responsibilities and obligations of related subjects involved in the management and protection of GI products, and set forth provisions that cover all aspects of the management and protection of GI products, to help related subjects perform their respective duties and responsibilities in practice, comprehensively implement the system of GI protection, and give full play to the role of GI management and protection in promoting the high-quality development of the regional economy and society," said Du Ying, Professor of the Law School of the Central University of Finance and Economics. For example, the Measures require that applicants should take measures to manage the use of names of GI products and special marks, as well as the features and quality of products.
Strengthening high-level protection
Tender and reddish Pingyao beef, fragrant Fenghuang Dancong tea, and aromatic Ili lavender essential oil…various GIs have "beautified" the land of China: By the end of 2023, a total of 2,508 GI products had been approved in China, and the annual output value of GI products had exceeded 800 billion yuan. However, motivated by profit, "free-riding", "counterfeiting" and other GI infringements have occurred frequently, corrupting market order. There has been a growing demand of all market participants for stepping up GI protection.
The Measures cover nine types of violations, including use of names of protected GI products on the same or similar products outside places of origin, fraudulent use of special marks for GIs on products, forgery of special marks for GIs, etc. These violations should be subject to sanctions under relevant laws and regulations.
"These violations make it difficult for consumers to identify the real sources and quality of products, and may impair the goodwill of GI products, damage consumers' confidence, and even affect the development and growth of regional specialty industries," said Song Xinzhe, Associate Professor of the Law School of Hainan University, deeming that the Measures set provisions on the infringement of GI products, and the fraudulent use or forgery of special marks for GIs, and make the liability for infringement more clear and specific, thus deterring infringement and safeguarding the lawful rights and interests of related subjects of GIs.