Geographical Indications

Geographical indications are indications that identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin. Examples of geographical indications from the United States include: "FLORIDA" for oranges; "IDAHO" for potatoes; "VIDALIA" for onions; and "WASHINGTON STATE" for apples. Geographical indications are valuable to producers for the same reason that trademarks are valuable. Geographical indications serve the same functions as trademarks, because like trademarks they are:

  • source-identifiers,
  • guarantees of quality, and
  • valuable business interests.

WTO Members and their nationals are increasingly recognizing that geographical indications are valuable as marketing tools in the global economy. Furthermore, intellectual property owners are finding that protecting IP is no longer just a domestic endeavor. To that end, intellectual property owners must be armed with information about domestic and foreign systems of GI protection in order to fully leverage the value added by GIs to their goods and services both at home and abroad. Contact the Office of Policy and International Affairs of the United States Patent and Trademark Office at (571) 272-9300 for more information about U.S. protection for GIs as well as foreign systems of protection.