Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Geographical Indications in South East Asia - show me the money!

GIs have not yet been a big WTO success across Asia. But through some shrewd commercial angles, the value of GIs has been well demonstrated in SE Asia. Thailand has been particularly active in part thanks to an abundance of products referred to by their provenance as well as the activities of the European Commission and its consultants who have been tirelessly promoting the issue. Commercial transactions such as cross licensing between one Thai silk institute and the French Champagne houses helped to promote each others' products and show the monetary value in GIs.

Indonesia is also rich in geographically sourced products. But few GIs have been registered and commercialized. The theory is that registration should follow commercial success. So IP Komodo Dragon was interested to hear at the Global Forum on IP in Singapore on 5 January Dr Daphne Zografos of the UK's Reading University telling the story of Bali's Kintamani coffee, the first GI registered in Indonesia. This has been a superb pilot project, and by creating a specification, an identifiable geographic zone along with training the farmers, the various local and international organisations involved helped create a registrable GI and the price of Kintamani coffee has been steadily rising ever since, perhaps not entirely but partly due to the GI says Dr Zografos. For some background see http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/01/19/kintamani-farmers-get-strict-keep-their-coffee-pure.html

So far 6 GIs have been registered in Indonesia as at the start of 2011, although another 11 are at application stage. Apart from Kintamani coffee the other Indonesian registrants are Jepara carved furniture, Munthok white pepper and Gayo coffee from Sumatra. Alongside this is Champagne, the first foreign GI registered, and Pisco from Peru, (but Peru and Chile don't fully agree on this GI).  So far the IP Komodo Dragon understands that none of the Indonesian ones have been registered outside the country, but that is perhaps part of the next step in building the international cachet and success of these GIs.

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