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7 Tips for Applying for a Geographical Indication

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Geographical Indications (GIs) play an essential role in protecting the characteristics and reputation of goods from specific regions. New Zealand is mainly known for its landscapes, which contribute to producing unique products. As such, GIs play an important role in New Zealand businesses. This article will take you through seven tips for applying for a geographical indication in New Zealand. 

1. Understand Geographical Indications

A comprehensive understanding of GIs is the first step to applying for one. A GI is a sign businesses use on goods from a specific origin and, therefore, has specific characteristics. A GI attributes a good to a region and attests to its quality and reputation. Common GIs in New Zealand are used for wines and other agricultural products.

GIs offer protection beyond standard trade mark protection by highlighting the link between a product and its origin. This adds value to the good and leads to consumer trust by ensuring that the qualities associated with the location are maintained and protected.

2. Identify the Geographical Area

The first main step is clearly identifying the geographical area associated with the good in question. This might be a:

  • region; 
  • town; or
  • vineyard or farm.

Defining the geographical boundary is important for a successful application. In some instances, collaborative efforts among regional producers may be needed. Open communication among stakeholders will enhance your application and ensure that the GI accurately reflects the characteristics of the location in question.

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3. Gather Evidence 

Next, you will need strong evidence of the distinctive qualities of the good associated with the geographical area. The purpose of this is to demonstrate that the characteristics of the good can be credited to the geographical origin.

Such evidence might include:

  • historical records;
  • research studies; or
  • reports from experts in the field. 

For example, in the case of wine, evidence may include details about: 

  • the region’s climate;
  • soil composition in the area; and 
  • the historical winemaking techniques that contribute to the unique qualities of the wine. 

Collecting comprehensive evidence will increase the chances of submitting a successful application.

4. Facilitate Stakeholder Engagement

GIs often require stakeholder collaboration within the identified geographical area. Engaging with the community and gaining their support for your application is important for success. This is because it fosters a sense of community and shared responsibility for protecting the distant qualities associated with the region.

Additionally, local stakeholder engagement can help minimise conflicts in the community and help make the application process as smooth as possible.

Understanding and complying with the legal framework surrounding GIs is also important. For example, the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006 oversees the registration of GIs for wines and spirits in New Zealand. As such, any GI application must strictly follow the requirements outlined in the Act to ensure a smooth registration process.

The best way to ensure that your business adheres to legal and regulatory rules is to work with a lawyer specialising in intellectual property and GIs. They will be able to guide you through the application process and ensure you are not in breach of any of the requirements.

6. Submit a Clear and Concise Application

Submitting a clear and concise application is important for GI registration. This documentation should provide:

  • a comprehensive overview of the geographical area;
  • the distinctive qualities of the product; and 
  • evidence supporting the link between the two (as outlined above). 

You should use clear language and visuals and highlight relevant data to enhance the readability and effectiveness of the application.

7. Engage in Post-Registration Responsibilities

You must actively participate in protecting and promoting your GI after it is registered. This involves:

  • collaboration with local producers; 
  • monitoring and reporting any unauthorised use of the GI; and 
  • engaging in activities to promote the region’s products.

Active involvement in the post-registration promotion protects the investment in obtaining the GI and contributes to the continued success and recognition of the area and its goods. This, in turn, will benefit the ongoing success of your business.

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Key Takeaways 

New Zealand is particularly known for its landscapes, which contribute to producing unique products. This means that GIs play an important role in New Zealand businesses and in protecting their goods. Some key tips for applying for a GI in New Zealand include:

  • understanding geographical indications;
  • identifying the geographical area;
  • gathering evidence;
  • facilitating stakeholder engagement;
  • knowing the legal and regulatory compliance rules;
  • submitting a clear and concise application; and
  • engaging in post-registration responsibilities.

If you need assistance registering a GI for your New Zealand business, our experienced trade mark lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0800 005 570 or visit our membership page.

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