Terroir IPR Part 1: Geographical Indications and IP Protection for Your Appellation of Origin

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The wine industry is characterised by a wide variety of producers, often very much linked to specific grapes, blends and terrains. The European Union has put in place a system of Geographical Indications (GIs), that are used to distinguish the origin of goods, often also linked to the quality and reputation of a purple-grapes-vineyard-napa-valley-napa-vineyard-45209specific product. In China, a large market for European wines, these GIs are as important, and once registered they are protected as trademarks. Nonetheless, as with trade marks, it is important to monitor the market for infringement of GIs and act against illegitimate users of your collective mark.
Wine has been classified by region for almost the entirety of its long and varied history, the Ancient Greeks stamped amphorae with the seal of the region they came from, and references to wine, identified by region are found throughout the Bible and other religious texts. Whilst this tradition of geographical identification continued throughout Antiquity and the Middle Ages, it was only in 1716, with the introduction of the Chianti region in Italy, protected by edict of the then Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Today, the concepts of appellation and terroir have spread around the world. France protects over 300 Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC)[1], and Italy over 400 Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) wines[2]. With similar systems and numerous varieties are grown and protected throughout Europe and the rest of the world, appellation of origin plays an important role in the classification of wines, as well as consumer decision making. As a result, the protection of the integrity of this classification system is of paramount importance to producers, distributors, retailers, and of course, consumers.

Protection of the appellation of origin of a product falls to the legal principles associated with so called Geographical Indications (GIs). Similar to trade marks, GIs are distinctive signs used to distinguish the origin of goods, thereby enabling consumers to accurately associate a particular quality or reputation with the products in question.

GIs differ from trade marks however in that rather than protecting a single producer’s rights, they protect a whole class, based on their geographical location and the production methods used. GIs therefore ‘belong to all those resident producers who comply with the specific by-laws and regulations set to ensure that the consumer ‘link’ between the quality /reputation of a product and its place of origin is maintained.[3]

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IP Protection Strategies in Indonesia for the Logistics and Transportation Industry

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Logistics3Indonesia’s logistics and transportation industry is growing rapidly due to the strong economic development of the country and gradual increase in domestic demand fueled by the rise of the country’s middle class.  Opportunities for logistics providers also continue to expand thanks to the strong growth in Indonesia’s e-commerce sector.  

However, transportation costs in Indonesia are still significantly higher than in many of its neighboring countries. This is reasonably due to the geographic challenges that Indonesia faces as a conglomerate of thousands of islands composing the country, and also due to Indonesia’s strict logistics and transportation policies regulating import and export of goods. For example, the requirement that ships with imported cargo are obliged to call at particular ports, which means, for example in the case of agricultural imports, that they all would need to go through Surabaya port before being shipped to the other markets where they are needed1  causing an inevitable congestion of shipments rather than a procedure to streamline the logistics. 

On the other hand, as an emerging and fast growing economy, the industry is expected to offer in the near future many lucrative business opportunities to European SMEs specialised in logistics, as also recently outlined by Indonesia’s President including ambitious expenditure plans for building new roads, airports and railways and to develop a modern maritime transport system together with better regulations2.    

European logistics and transportation SMEs wishing to enter the Indonesian market need to keep in mind that despite improvements in Indonesia’s IP laws and regulations, counterfeiting and other IP infringements are still  commonplace in Indonesia and thus robust IP strategies are needed to grow their business in Indonesia.  

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Bodega Branding: The How, What, When, and Why of Wine IPR Protection

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In our last article we sang a song of growth and prosperity for the wine industry in China, fuelled by the staggering figures of industry growth and Chinese wine consumption in recent years. This was tempered somewhat by the somewhat tragic tales of the relatively unimpeded development of a parasitic counterfeiting industry which continues to sap the profits of wine producers, damage reputations, and in some cases harm consumers in the process1. 

Today however we’ll be striking a more positive note, and looking at how producers and distributors can utilise the established IPR protection framework maintained by the People’s Republic of China and defend the reputation of their products. 

Traditional Anti-Counterfeiting Measures 

Tamper proof seals, holograms, and other authentication technologies have long been used by vintners to identify the authenticity of their products to their consumers. Unfortunately, counterfeiters have been working almost as long to develop copies of these so-called preventative measures, and as a result they have done little more than slow the progress of counterfeiters in copying new products. 

In fact, even if consumers have the inclination or opportunity to check these identifiers, the sophistication of counterfeiters has now reached the point where even the producers themselves have difficulty in identifying fakes, and are forced to rely on laboratory testing to identify counterfeits2. 

Producers and distributors can no longer rely on traditional, physical measures alone to combat counterfeiting, and must also take advantage of the other tools at their disposal. 

Continue reading “Bodega Branding: The How, What, When, and Why of Wine IPR Protection” »

How to Protect your IPR in the Tourism Industry in the Philippines

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BRAND on price labelsUnderpinned by the intensive governmental investments in marketing and infrastructure to support the tourism industry, the Philippines’ tourism industry is rapidly growing. The industry contributes around 11% to the annual GDP of the Philippines, bringing in about EUR 30 billion in 20141. As the country is promoting foreign investments in special economic zones of tourism development like Metro Manila, Cebu City and Mactan Island, there will be many lucrative future business opportunities for European SMEs in the tourism industry in the Philippines. 

SMEs engaged in tourism industry need to pay special attention to protecting their intellectual property (IP) rights, because IP infringements are still relatively common in the Philippines. IP rights are a key factor for business success and neglecting to register these rights in the Philippines could easily end SMEs’ business endeavor in the country. Thus, a robust IPR strategy is needed, when entering the promising market of the Philippines.   

Make Sure your Brand is Protected 

Branding is especially crucial for the tourism sector, as it allows companies to differentiate themselves from the rest, creating a niche market and an individual appeal that will translate into more tourist arrivals. Thus, it could have devastating consequences for a European SME if another company started to use similar or identical brand to promote their services. In tourism sector ‘destination branding’ is equally important to company branding. Destination branding often relies on a logo and a tagline, the examples being the Swiss resort St. Moritz using the tagline ‘Top of the World’, the  Tourism Malaysia campaign of ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’ or the slogan ‘it’s more fun in the Philippines’ that the Philippines Department of Tourism uses to promote the country internationally.    Continue reading “How to Protect your IPR in the Tourism Industry in the Philippines” »

The Thirst of the Dragon: An Introduction to the Growth of Popularity & Counterfeiting of Wine in the Middle Kingdom

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Pouring_a_glass_of_red_wine.tiff“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world . . . it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” 

― Ernest Hemingway 

Wine. The Greeks honoured this sacred beverage with its own deity, the Christian faith honour it as part of the sacred rite of Eucharist, and today, the history and quality of less ancient vintages has created a thriving trade around the world. 

Making up the majority of what the wine industry now calls the “Old World”, Europe combines a rich history of viticulture and winemaking with modern technological innovation. In recent years, Europe’s love of wine has proved especially infectious to developing palettes in East Asia, and over the last few decades Chinese consumption has surged, overtaking France as the largest consumer of red wine worldwide. This being said, room for growth in China remains as the Chinese continue to lag behind other nations in terms of individual consumption; in 2014, France’s 51.9 litre per capita consumption dwarfed China’s mere 1.5 litres.  

Europe’s old guard wineries seem well-poised to capitalise on this growth. They have spent hundreds of years perfecting their craft, and European ‘old world’ wines are sought after around the world. As a result, Chinese consumers primarily turn to Europe to slake their thirst for foreign wines— with the Middle Kingdom relying on European imports for 65% of its foreign wine trade. French reds are in particular favour, with 48% of China’s imported wines starting life on French vines, although wine produced in Germany, Spain, and Italy also enjoys considerable popularity amongst Chinese consumers1. 

However, in spite of Europe’s advantages, Chinese consumers still show a preference for domestically produced wines and more than 80% of wine consumed within China is produced domestically. According to independent critic and wine expert Jancis Robinson (MW)2, quality alone does not account for this disparity. Robinson, widely held in high regard for her independent critique and support of new industry and independent wineries, has routinely visited China over the last decade to sample the country’s developing vintages. As such Jancis is uniquely qualified to comment on the development of Chinese wines, and tells us that though Chinese winemaking has improved greatly in recent years, most producers still lag behind the established vines and vintners of Europe in terms of quality.  Continue reading “The Thirst of the Dragon: An Introduction to the Growth of Popularity & Counterfeiting of Wine in the Middle Kingdom” »