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An economic analysis of the evolution in intellectual property strategies in the South African agricultural sector: The rooibos industry

Biénabe E., Bramley C., Kirsten J.F.. 2009. In : by David Kaplan (ed). The economics of intellectual property in South Africa. Genève : WIPO, p. 56-83.

The food consumption trend toward more diverse products with a strong cultural value is creating opportunities for producers to move away from low-value agricultural production into niche markets. The ability of local communities and enterprises to benefit from the commercial exploitation of their heritage crucially depends on their capacity to collectively define, market and protect these specific resources. This is the context of the paper as it sets out to explore how IP strategies are evolving in the South African Rooibos industry in response to changing consumer demand and threats of misappropriation. The subject is approached through an analysis of the private and collective quality signaling and management through the use of IP strategies. It approaches intellectual property from a marketing and labeling perspective and focuses, as such, on the use of trademarks and geographical indications within individual and collective reputation and quality signaling strategies in the Rooibos industry. From an economic perspective the focus falls on the move from individual or restricted group strategies of utilization of existing IP options to the incorporation of a collective approach to IP protection and how quality objectives are pursued through this. The paper proceeds by providing a legal background to geographical indications and trademarks in South Africa. This is followed by a discussion on the development of the South African Rooibos industry and its main features. The current IP strategies developed by the different role players in the Rooibos industry with respect to marketing and quality labeling associated with the name and product "Rooibos" are then documented. Based on this, the key dimensions and potential impacts of developing a collective IP strategy at industry level are discussed. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : secteur agricole; fabaceae; propriété; afrique du sud; filière; aspalathus linearis; propriété intellectuelle

Thématique : Législation; Commerce international

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