TRADEMARK AND GI PROTECTION SUBJECT OF USPTO PROGRAM IN CHINA
According to the AGIPNEWS, The United States Patent & Trademark Office, in collaboration with the China Trademark Office, completed a successful weeklong program last week in China, regarding “geographical indications (GIs).”
“Geographical indications” refer to identifiers of goods originating in the territory of a World Trade Organization member. GIs also designate a region or locality within a given territory, where inherent qualities, reputation, or other characteristics of the goods are essentially attributable to its geographic origin. “Florida” for oranges, “Idaho” for potatoes, “Washington State” for apples, etc. are all examples of geographical indications from the United States.
The weeklong seminar in China focused on protection of geographical indications through the use of the trademark system. As in the United States, geographical indications in China are protected by a trademark system, i.e. the China Trademark Office. There is, however, a second system in China for the protection of geographical indications, regulated by a separate government agency, which has caused confusion between trademarks and geographical indications.
The challenges of enforcing a pre-existing mark against a subsequent geographical indication were also addressed in the seminar, as well as a better mutual understanding between China and the United States regarding protection afforded to trademarks and geographical indications.
Any questions regarding trademark issues would best be addressed by a trademark attorney experienced in dealing with the United States Patent & Trademark Office.