Applications For Geographical Indications Now Available In Singapore
By Ching Pufang (Ella Cheong LLC)
Within the first three weeks of its commencement, the newly established Registry of Geographical Indications (GI Registry) has recorded more than 40 new applications for registration of geographical indications (GIs) in Singapore. They include an application for ‘Prosciutto di Parma’ from Province of Parma, Italy, as well as ‘Scotch Whisky’ from Scotland, United Kingdom. GIs serve as indications of products that possess special qualities or enjoy a certain reputation due to their geographical origin.
The new GI Registry commenced operations on 1 April 2019 as part of the implementation of an enhanced regime for GIs, following the European Parliament’s consent to the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) on 13 February 2019. The application process overseen by the GI Registry comprises 3 stages, namely application filing, substantive examination, and publication for opposition by third parties. Like trade marks, GI registrations last for 10 years and can be renewed for further 10-year periods.
The Geographical Indications Act 2014 (No. 19 of 2014) which partially came into force on 1 April 2019 repealed and re-enacted with amendments the old Geographical Indications Act (old 1999 GI Act), the key change being the newly established GI Registry and a registration system for GIs in Singapore. Under Singapore’s old regime, there was no prescribed registration system for GIs; a GI protected in its country of origin, being a party to the Paris Convention or a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), was generally conferred automatic protection in Singapore, with an enhanced level of protection accorded to wines and spirits.
The enhanced protection for GIs under the new regime will be implemented in stages in accordance with the ratification of the EUSFTA. Following the newly established GI Registry, the remaining provisions of the Geographical Indications Act 2014 (No. 19 of 2014) relating to registered GIs, including an enhanced level of GI protection to selected categories of agricultural products and foodstuff, as well as improved border enforcement measures, are slated to come into effect in due course. Soon, an enhanced level of GI protection will apply not just to wines and spirits, but also to agricultural products and foodstuffs such as cheeses and cured meats. When the new regime comes fully into effect, producers and traders of registered GIs will be entitled to submit requests to customs authorities for detention of suspected infringing goods which are expected to be imported into or exported out from Singapore.
As the new GI regime evolves into concrete form, with the first salvo of the GI Registry on 1 April 2019, we recommend that entitled parties make preparations to file their GI applications at the earliest in order to secure effective rights.
Please contact us should you have any questions or require more information about GI registration in Singapore.
If you have any questions or would like more information about GI registration in Singapore, please contact Mr. Kevin Wong (), Ms. Ching Pufang () or your usual contact. For similar updates, please visit www.ellacheong.asia.