Geographical Indicators

A Geographical Indicator (GI) is an international trademark that indicates a product, in this case coffee, has been produced by a specific region and depending on the legal framework of the GI, by a specific process designed to maintain a baseline level of quality.

Examples of coffee with well-established, mature GIs include Kona Coffee and Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.  Both coffees can only be produced legally in their respective regions and both adhere to specific quality standards, which help protect the reputation of the product.

GIs are important for a number of reasons1:

- registered GIs can be used in marketing strategies in both domestic and international spheres;
- registration adds value to the potential GI product and improves producers’ livelihoods;
- such products can become tools to develop rural areas on the basis of the good reputation of their quality;
- registration will improve the reputation of the GI product in global trade;
- registration will ensure equal treatment regarding GI protection and can be used as a tool for promotion abroad;
- GI protection will avoid unfair competition, misrepresentation or misleading, deceptive conduct.

In short, geographical indicators are international trademarks.

They are “intagible attributes of value that “belong” to producing countries and can become powerful trade negotiation tools for producers2.”

1. Case study on quality products linked to geographical origin in Asia carried out for FAO, Mawardi, 2009, p. 7
2. Coffee: Terroirs and Qualities, QUAE, 2010, p. 53