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Appellation of origin (AOO) and Geographical indication

Appellation of origin - (Art. 1516 Civil Code) is a sign that represents or contains a contemporary or historical, official or unofficial, full or abbreviated name of the country, city or rural settlement, locality, or other geographical object and also a derivative of such appellation which became known as the result of its use to designate the special properties of goods which are defined exclusively or mainly by the natural conditions and/or human factors specific for the geographical object concerned.

A designation, which represents or contains the name of a geographical object but has fallen into public domain in the Russian Federation as a designation of goods of a certain kind not connected with the place of their production shall not be recognized as an appellation of origin.

Where does Champagne come from? What about Prosciutto di Parma(Parma ham)? Or Scotch Whisky? Or Guinness?

Real deal or Rip-off?

There is no law to prevent anyone from producing their own sparkling white wine, or cured ham or distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain. But there is legal protection to ensure not just anyone can label any such products under the same name or similar as these. On the face of it, this looks much like simple trademark protection and in some ways, you might be right. However, appellation of origin and geographical indication designations are legal protections based on geographical, production and reputational grounds. The term appellation of origin originates from France and was primarily to ensure consumers knew where products were produced. Today, with the advent of prolific international trade and consumerism, this protects consumers and perhaps more importantly, producers, in the global marketplace.

But Why?

Certain geographical names have an association of quality and excellence for reasons of longstanding production techniques, the natural resources or just historical reputation. Those such as Champagne or Beluga Caviar are deemed to be superior and as such, demand a higher price. If you were to pay the market rate, only to discover that it was not, in fact, Beluga, you would feel angry and cheated.

IP Rights protect reputations on the rise

It also protects the reputation, production and quality of a particular product. It encourages regional and local production and manufacturing and ensures fair competition. Although your product might not currently have the reputation of a Scotch whisky or a Parma ham, it may have its own very unique qualities which others may seek to exploit. One day it might denote such a high reputation.

The law can and should be used to help protect it and you as the producer. It is worth investigating legally whether your product qualifies as an appellation of origin or a geographical indication designation. We can make these preliminary assessments. The geographical indication designation is a lower requirement for protection, only requiring a link between the reputation of the product and its origin. Both these protections require registration with Rospatent. Certificates of registration are valid for 10 years, but will be continuously renewed if the designation is proved to continue to exist. The may sound to those without legal experience to be lesser powers, but they can be just as effective as trademarking for the right situations.

Appellation of Origins are famous around the world

If you are a producer in the Russian Federation, this aspect of IP law is vital for protecting your product around the world. Equally, if you are a producer who wants to sell your product in the Russian Federation it is an important aspect to consider. Both require correct and legal registration in the country of origin for them to have valid claims in other countries, therefore legal advice should be sought to ensure the requisite registrations are made correctly. We can provide this service from initial consultation all the way through to representation in case of potential infringement.

Have you considered registering a trademark?

Finally, in the case of Guinness, their product although originally one of important geographical, technical and natural origin have become such a successful international brand that these powers do not apply. There may be a case for your products and brand be better protected under trademark law. We can discuss with you as to where your best protection lies. Please check our section on Trademark protection for further information.

Our services in Russia:

  • consulting clients on all issues related to the legal protection of appellations of origin;
  • carrying out a preliminary assessment of the possibility of registration for the claimed designation;
  • preparation and filing of applications for registration of an appellation of origin into the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent), as well as the patent offices of foreign countries and represent the interests of the applicants at all stages of the examination;
  • representing the clients before the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent) and other related authorities.