Geographical Indications

All you need to know about Geographical Indications


What is a Geographical Indication?

A geographical indication identifies a good as originating in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin. (Geographical Indications Act 2003, Section (2))

What is the Lisbon Treaty?

The Lisbon Agreement of 1958 is a treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that provides protection for appellations of origin (AO). AOs are a special kind of GI for products that have a particularly strong link with their place of origin. Antigua and Barbuda is currently not a member of the Lisbon Treaty.

How are geographical indications relevant to my business?

Geographical indications function as product differentiators on the market, by enabling consumers to distinguish between products with geographical origin-based characteristics and others without. 

Geographical indications, supported by expert business management, can facilitate

  • Competitive advantage
  • More added value to a product
  • Increased export opportunities and
  • A strengthened brand

Different types of geographical indication

In order to function as a geographical indication, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place, and the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to that place of origin.

This is often the case for agricultural products, because they are influenced by their local climate and environment, but geographical indications may also be used for industrial products where a region has a strong manufacturing tradition and reputation, for instance Swiss watches.

Appellations of origin are a type of geographical indication. In some jurisdictions, appellations of origin are protected more strongly than other geographical indications.

For what type of products can geographical indications be used?

Geographical indications are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts, and industrial products.

For what type of products can geographical indications not be used?

The geographical indications which are not protected under the 2003 Act include terms or signs which are used for: 

  • Products which are immoral or against public order.
  • Products which are no longer in use or no longer protected in the country of origin.
  • Products which have become the common name in Antigua and Barbuda for the goods or services which it identifies.
  • (For Wines and Spirits) It has been used continuously for at least 10 years preceding 15 April 1994 or in good faith preceding that date.
  • Products which are confusingly similar to a trade mark for which rights had been acquired before the geographical indication is protected in its country of origin.
  • Products which are the names of a person or a predecessor in a particular business.

           (The Geographical Indications Act 2003, Section 6. (a), (b) and (c))

What are examples of Geographical Indications?

Examples of geographical indications include:

  • Jamaican Jerk (from Jamaica)
  • Cuban Cigars (Rolled from tobacco leaves found throughout Cuba)
  • Champagne (produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France)
  • Cognac (named after the town of Cognac in France)
  • Tequila (made from the blue agave plant, primarily from the city of Tequila, Mexico)
  • Colombian Coffee (The coffee produced in Colombia has been recognized worldwide as having high quality and distinctive taste because of the region and its climate)

What are the main ways of protecting geographical indications?

Protection is available through the sui generis systems. These are special laws on geographical indication protection.

How long does geographical indication protection last?

Registration for geographical indications is not subject to a specific period of validity. This means that the protection for a registered geographical indication will remain valid unless the registration is cancelled.

Who can use a protected geographical indication?

Only producers carrying on their activity in the geographical area specified in the Register have the right to use a registered geographical indication, in trade, with respect to the products specified in the Register. This is provided that such products possess the quality, reputation or other characteristics specified in the Register.

What is the difference between a geographical indication and a trademark?

  • Geographical indications identify a good as originating from a particular place. By contrast, a trademark identifies a good or service as originating from a particular company.
  • A trademark often consists of a fanciful or arbitrary sign. In contrast, the name used as a geographical indication is usually predetermined by the name of a geographical area.
  • A trademark can be assigned or licensed to anyone, anywhere in the world, because it is linked to a specific company and not to a particular place. In contrast, a GI cannot be assigned or licensed to someone outside the area of origin or those not belonging to the group of authorized producers.

How is geographical indication protection enforced?

The owner of a geographical indication can bring civil proceedings against violators. Right holders should consult their legal advisers, before taking steps to defend their rights.

Criminally, any person who knowingly and with intent to deceive performs the acts referred to in Section 3 of the Act is liable to a fine of no more than fifty thousand dollars ($50, 000) or to imprisonment no more than three years. (Geographical Indications Act 2003, Section (7)).

Geographical Indication Fees

Matter or Proceeding Amount (EC$)
Application fee $250.00
Correction of application to comply with requirements for according  filing date $50.00
Publication fee $200.00 plus fee for Publication
Registration fee $1000.00
Request to the Registrar to state in writ· ing grounds of decision to refuse application or to accept it subject to conditions $100.00
Notice of opposition to registration of geographical indication; or filing Counter statement to notice of opposition $150.00


Request to refuse or to invalidate registration  of a misleading mark $150.00
Request to refuse or to invalidate  the registration of a mark which conflicts  with a geographical indication for wines and spirits $150.00
Inspection of register $25.00
Certified copies of documents $5.00 per printed page and $50.00 to certify
Request for correction of error $40.00
Request for hearing $175.00