A geographical indication is an industrial property right. It protects designations indicating the origin of goods from a given geographical area if the specific characteristic of those goods depends to a significant extent on such geographical origin.
A geographical indication makes it possible to distinguish goods of the same type on the market according to their specific characteristics that depend on their geographical location. Natural conditions, such as climate, soil composition, etc., or established production or manufacturing methods, as well as quality, reputation or other characteristics, give products properties that make them more sought-after.
The common characteristic of geographical indications is that they designate the places, cities, provinces or regions from which the products originate.
Geographical indication protection in Slovenia
In Slovenia, geographical indications are governed by the following regulations:
- the Agriculture Act regulates the use of geographical indications or protected designation of origin, and other quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs;
- the Wine Act regulates the use of geographical indications, traditional terms and additional traditional terms;
- the Industrial Property Act regulates the use of geographical indications for goods other than agricultural products or foodstuffs, wine and other grape and wine products.
What can be registered as a geographical indication?
Under the Industrial Property Act, geographical indications may be used to protect indications designating handicraft and industrial products with a given quality, reputation or other characteristics attributable to their geographical origin. A geographical indication thus indicates that a particular product originates in a certain territory, or a region or a place in that territory, if the quality, reputation or other characteristic of the goods depends to a significant extent on such geographical origin. The name of a good that has become generally known through long-term use in the course of trade as the name indicating that the good originates in a specific place or region may also be registered as a geographical indication.
Geographical indications related to a good of special historic or cultural importance may be protected directly by a decree of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia.
What should not be registered as a geographical indication?
Geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs, and for wine and other grape and wine products may not be registered as geographical indications under the Industrial Property Act, as the registration of geographical and other indications for these goods is governed by other regulations.
A geographical indication may also not be registered under the Industrial Property Act if:
- it misleadingly indicates or suggests that the good in question originates in a geographical area other than its true place of origin, or
- although literally true as to the territory, region or place in which the good originates, it falsely represents to the public that the good originates in another region, or
- it has become generally known through long-term use in the course of trade as a designation for a specific type of good, or
- due to the indication’s reputation and renown and the duration of its use, registration could mislead the consumer as to the true identity of the product.
Who can apply for the registration?
Applications for the registration of a geographical indication under the Industrial Property Act may be filed by:
- associations of legal or natural persons,
- wider local communities, and
- state authorities.
Who can use a geographical indication?
A geographical indication is a collective right and, under the Industrial Property Act, may be used in trade by persons who produce or place on the market goods in accordance with the conditions laid down in the specification. Since it is a collective right by nature and there are several entities entitled to use a geographical indication, a registered geographical indication may not be transferred to another person, nor may it be the subject of a license agreement.
The use of a registered geographical indication is prohibited if the goods do not originate in the place indicated by the geographical indication even if the true origin of the goods is indicated or if the geographical indication is used in translation or accompanied by expressions such as "kind", "type", "style", "imitation" or the like.
Registered geographical indications may not be converted into generic or commonly known names that could be freely used in trade.
Procedure for obtaining protection
The procedure for obtaining geographical indication protection from the Intellectual Property Office consists of a few basic steps.
Before applying for registration of a geographical indication, we advise you to find out what can be registered as a geographical indication, which authority is competent to register a geographical indication depending on the goods to which it relates, how the registration procedure works under the Industrial Property Act, who can apply, who can help you with the application, etc.
Pursuant to the Industrial Property Act, the procedure for obtaining the right at the Office is free of charge. For any further information, please contact:
Duration and maintenance of the right
The duration of the geographical indication is not temporally limited. Nor is the Office required to pay fees for the maintenance of the registered geographical indication.
In the event of infringement of rights, any person entitled to use a geographical indication may bring an action before the District Court of Ljubljana for infringement of the rights conferred in respect of the registered geographical indication against a person who unduly uses the registered geographical indication.
In such action, the person entitled to use a geographical indication may request that the infringer be prohibited from future acts of infringement, that the infringer be ordered to remove the means and items of the infringement from the channels of commerce, that the infringer compensate for the damage sustained and that the final judgment be published in public newsletters at the infringer’s expense.