Obtaining Geographical Indication in South America: the case of Brazil
This June, the Brazilian INPI granted the registration of Geographical Indication to the product “Uvas Finas de Mesa” of Marialva. Marialva is a municipality located in Northern Brazil and is considered the largest producer of grapes in the state of Paraná. Recently, the Geographical Indication was also granted to the “Erva-mate” of São Matheus, a region that accounts for 14% of the national production of erva-mate. Brazil is the largest state in South America and, due to its geographical and natural variety, possesses a strong potential for obtaining GIs. Indeed, the country is the largest producer of coffee and sugar cane, and one of the largest for soybeans, cotton, beef and tobacco. However, as of 31 July 2012, only twenty-seven GIs were registered for products in Brazil, well below the average of most European countries.
The concept of Geographical Indication in the Law
The Geographical Indication is a mark used to identify products and services that come from a particular geographical area and that, because of their origin, own particular qualities.
The Industrial Property Law no. 9279/96, establishes the system for protecting Geographical Indications in Brazil. The law distinguishes between 2 types of GIs: Indication of Source (“Indicação de Procedência – IP) and Appellation of Origin (“Denominação de Origem – DO). Both indicators certify that a product or a service comes from a particular area – but the link with the origin must be stronger in the case of Appellation of Origin. In other words, for obtaining DO it is necessary to prove that the raw materials were sourced in the place of origin and that the processing of the product also took place there. Through DO, consumers are not only able to recognise the product as originating from a specific area but they can also identify the features that make it unique, differentiating it from others.
It must be noted that when a geographical name has become the common name for designating a given product or service, it cannot become a GI.
How to obtain Geographical Indications in Brazil
The Normative Instruction 12/2013 and the Resolution 55/2013 of the Brazilian INPI integrate the norms of the Brazilian IP Law concerning the registration of Geographical Indications.
Generally it is not possible for a single producer to apply for “Indicação de Procedência” or “Denominação de Origem”: producers must be organized in associations, institutions or entities representing the community, which are established in the relevant area and are effectively producing the goods they want to be certified. The GIs can have a nominative or graphic representation.
It is also necessary that the relevant geographical area is precisely defined in the application.
The most important part of the application concerns the proof of the existence of a control structure on producers or service providers: the applicants must provide the description of the product and its main physical, chemical and organoleptic characteristics; evidence concerning its geographic origin; a description of the method for obtaining it and of the method of control.
Foreign geographical names can also be registered in Brazil if already recognised in the country of origin or by an international organization. This has been the case of “Cognac”, “Franciacorta”, and “San Daniele” that indicate, respectively, French and Italian Denominations of Origin. In order to register the GIs, many of the elements required by the Resolution for local products can be omitted, provided that they arise from the official document that recognizes a GI in its country of origin.