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Bilateral agreements for geographical indications: the evaluation 'of the local by the local'?

Marie-Vivien D., Biénabe E., Sautier D.. 2013. In : eProceeding of the XXVth Congress of the European Society for Rural Sociology, Florence, Italy, 29 July - 1 August 2013. Pisa : Laboratorio di studi rurali SISMONDI, p. 339-340. ESRS Congress. 25, 2013-07-29/2013-08-01, Florence (Italie).

In the context of the 'frozen' international negotiations on a multilateral approach to geographical indication (GI) protection, the practice of signing bilateral or plurilateral agreements between countries or regions to ensure the reciprocal protection of GIs has significantly increased worldwide in recent years. This trend runs counter the multilateral protection of GIs under the TRIPs Agreement that WTO negotiations and the development of national legal frameworks in member States were in principle aiming to promote. In this paper, we argue that this new trend of using bilateral agreements results in a move towards an increased reliance on domestic and local evaluation for the international protection of GIs and thus a lack of trust in foreign systems. It also demonstrates an increased State intervention through the endorsement by the State of the task to protect its domestic GIs abroad. This substantially questions the approach to the internationalization of GIs through the TRIPs Agreement where GIs are considered an intellectual property right as any other. Interestingly this is in line with the Lisbon Agreement for the protection of appellations of origin, where the governing mechanism is the principle of the legitimacy of the State of origin in determining the existence of a link between a place and a product.

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