Trademarks and Geographical Indications Contrasted


     By SCP Global Africa IP

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The main difference between a trademark and a geographical indication is that, while the former is a sign that a business concern (whether physical or moral person) uses to distinguish its own goods or services from those of competitors, the latter is an indicator that certain products have a regional origin which is certain.

The main difference between a trademark and a geographical indication is that, while the former is a sign that a business concern (whether physical or moral person) uses to distinguish its own goods or services from those of competitors, the latter is an indicator that certain products have a regional origin which is certain. All the producers in that region are allowed to use the geographical indication. For instance, “Mountain” can be used by all honey farmers in the Cameroon Mountain area but if any of the producers has registered the trademark “XTRA” for its honey, only that producer can call its produce “XTRA” Mountain Honey.

Secondly, while only one undertaking can use a trademark registered in its name and address, every undertaking in the same region are allowed to use the same geographical indication.

Thirdly, while a trademark can be a letter, a word, numerals or simply a number, or a combination of letter(s) and numbers, an abbreviation, a name, a device or figurative element, a hologram, a sound or a smell, a geographical indication can only be a politico-geographical name (a place).

Fourthly, while a trademark can claim its colour features, a geographical indication would not claim any such thing.

Fifthly and finally, while a deceptive geographical indication can be incorporated in a trademark and render the trademark deceptive, the reverse is not practical in that a deceptive trademark cannot implicate a geographical indication in the same way if the geographical indication is not in itself deceptive.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Feh Henry Baaboh, Esq.
Born in Cameroon (1958) and admitted as member of the Cameroon Bar Association, Barrister Baaboh holds an LLM Degree in Business Law ( University of Douala) and LLB Degree in English Private Law ( University of Yaounde II at Soa). These only came later to add to the three other university Degrees (one Bachelors and two Masters) he had earned before in the old (and now defunct) University of Yaounde. Such educational career, with a broad base, has earned him the distinction of a sound and solid Solicitor of international renown. He is quick in discerning legal issues and seeking practical solutions to them.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.



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