Study Tour To Martigny Switzerland - 2009

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionThe Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) in conjunction with the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) organized a Geographical Indications (GI) study tour for delegates from Jamaica. The two (2) week study tour was conducted in the Valais region of Switzerland, noted for producing a number of the Swiss GI products. The delegation comprised 15 Jamaican officials that were directly involved and working with GIs from different disciplines. The delegation included representatives from: JIPO; the Ministry of Agriculture; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; the Scientific Research Council; the Rural Agriculture Development Authority; the Bureau of Standards Jamaica; the Jamaica Business Development Corporation; Office of the Parliamentary Council; the Supreme Court; Coffee Industry Board; Lascelles de Mercardo – “Rum”; and Fiwi Foods – “Jerk”.

This course was designed to ensure the advancement in the process of IPI’s implementation of a project to support the establishment of GI protection in Jamaica.

The course demonstrated some of the contributions that can be gained from the recognition of GIs such as; greater quality control of the GI product; increased revenue for the producers; infrastructural development; and the encouragement of the development of a GI supply chain which effectively and efficiently contributes to rural development.

The collective organisation of GI producers is essential for the proper functioning of the GI system of protection. This therefore means that the relevant stakeholders that have an interest in the protection of a GI must pool their resources together to ensure the success of the GI. The Code of Practice, the main document that sets out the guidelines, regulation and controls for the GI must be accurately and purposefully created. The document will cover areas such as; the raw materials to be used; the geographical area of the GI; the processing of the product; physical or chemical characteristics of the product; storage; testing of the finished product; labelling; the certification body overseeing the observance of procedures and standards.

The Swiss system has two bodies that functions collectively for GI producers: the Professional and the Inter-professional. Their objectives include: the effective management of the production of the GI products; the promotion of the GI; the definition of the rules; the application for registration of the GI, and any other action concerning the interest of the GI.

The code of practices for two GIs were examined: the Rye bread of Valais and Gruyere. These codes gave a better understanding of the fundamental information, at least, that must be included in the code of practices.

The course also provided information on the Organization for an International Geographical Indication Network (ORIGIN). ORIGIN was created in 2003 and is the first international organization of GI producers. It’s objectives involves creating and advancing the network of GI producers from all over the world; carrying out advocacy campaigns for a more effective international legal system for GIs; help GI producers enforce their rights in foreign jurisdictions; promote GIs as a tool for sustainable development; and to act as a platform for worldwide GI producers and experts to exchange best practices.

As GIs are primarily for agricultural products, the delegates were taken to a cheese factory and a wine producer (Williamine and Abricotine). The visit to these establishments gave a greater understanding of the production of these two GI products. GIs ensure that the reputation of the product continues to be protected, and these producers guarantee that the level of quality and pride-of-product is present in the production process.

The challenges that GI’s encountered were looked at, particularly with an interest in our own Jamaican GI’s (Blue Mountain Coffee and Jamaica Rum). A number of examples of unauthorized and misleading use of the Jamaican GI’s were provided. The most notable of these examples were the Blue Mountain Coffee being used with Magnum Brand in the United States; Jamaica Rum coming from Ecuador and Argentina. Other GIs that were marketed misleadingly are “Turron de jijona”, “Parmigiano Reggiano” and “Pruneaux d’Agen”.

It is based on these challenges, inter alia, that the effective protection of Jamaican GIs is extremely important.