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Indian Journal of Intellectual Property Law




In this article, I propose that geographical indications (GIs) carry important economic benefits. First, GIs are essential instruments to facilitate investments in high-quality products and niche markets, and promote local trade and development. Second, GIs offer an additional layer of information for consumers about the geographical origin and quality of the products they identify, in turn reducing the information asymmetries between producers and consumers. Third, because of this information function, GIs can assist in rewarding or holding producers accountable for their products based on the additional information they convey to the market. Yet, GIs can also protect culture-related interests and not only trade. Specifically, in this article, I suggest that protecting GIs can promote local products and their associated knowledge as cultural expressions. In particular, GIs could contribute to preserving cultural heritage and existing traditions, and in turn could promote the recognition of the heritage and traditions nationally and internationally. In the past decade, discussions over the recognition of culture-related concerns have led to the adoption of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage under the patronage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2003. A few years later in 2005, another relevant convention, the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, was adopted by the UNESCO General Conference. Even though neither the 2003 nor 2005 UNESCO Conventions refer to intellectual property or GIs, GIs seem well-suited to also protect culture-based interests under the framework established by these Conventions.

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NALSAR University of Law

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