• • Concept of Geographical Indications

GIs are a specific category of intellectual property rights. They are classified in the same way as copyright, patents, trademarks and service marks.

On the other hand, they concern the protection of product names that have a geographical origin and possess qualities, notoriety or characteristics that can be attributed essentially to that geographical origin. In most cases, a geographical indication contains the name of the product's place of origin. Geographical indications necessarily refer to the place of origin of the products to which they refer.

Geographical indications include designations of origin. These refer to a traditional designation used on products with a particular quality or characteristics due essentially to the geographical environment in which they are produced.

While designations of origin can only relate to agricultural products, geographical indications cover a wider spectrum of products, including both agricultural and non-agricultural products.

In OAPI member states, geographical indications are governed by Annex VI of the Bangui Agreement. There are also implementing texts for this Annex, such as the regulations on the reproduction, use and management of geographical indications protected by OAPI. 

  • • Importance of GIs

A Geographical Indication highlights a place or region of production that determines the characteristic qualities of the product originating there. It is important that the product derives its qualities and reputation from this place.

For consumers, this mechanism serves to determine the origin and quality of products. Many of them have acquired considerable renown which, if not properly protected, can be misrepresented by dishonest commercial operators. For legitimate producers, these illicit uses represent a loss of profit from lucrative commercial operations.

  • • Some examples of GIs protected at OAPIOAPI 

Penja pepper; Champagne; Scotch Whisky; Cognac; Basmati rice; Macenta ziama coffee; Oku white honey; Sugar loaf pineapple from the Plateau d'Allada-Benin; Kilichi from Niger; Galmi purple onion; Bandiagara shallot.

The Saponé hat (Burkina Faso) is the first artisanal geographical indication to be protected by OAPI.