The Recent International and Regulatory Decisions about Geographical Indications
As worldwide consumer demand for high-quality products and for information about these products increases, labels and geographical indications (GIs) can serve to signal quality traits to consumers. However, GI systems among countries are not homogeneous and can be used as trade barriers against competition. Philosophical differences between the European Union and the United States about how GIs should be registered and protected led to the formation of a WTO dispute settlement panel. In this paper we discuss the issues behind the dispute, the World Trade Organization (WTO) panel decision, and the EU response to the panel decision leading to the new Regulation 510/2006. Given the potential for GI labels to supply consumer information, context is provided for the discussion using recent literature on product labeling. Implications are drawn regarding the importance of the panel decision and the EU response relative to GI issues yet to be negotiated under the Doha Round.