Jurisdiction - Singapore
Reports and Analysis
Singapore – Geographical Indications.

3 June, 2014

 

Legal News & Analysis – Asia Pacific – Singapore – Intellectual Property

 

The Current GI Regime

 

GIs are currently protected in Singapore under the Geographical Indications Act (“the GI Act“). Under the GI Act, registration is not required for the protection of GIs. All GI goods enjoy a basic level of protection, which prevents the use of the GI in a misleading manner that suggests that a good originates from a geographical area other than the true place of origin. Wines and spirits enjoy an enhanced level of protection, which means that a GI may not be used on products which do not come from the place indicated by the GI, even if consumers are not misled as to the products’ true geographical origin. For example, “Champagne-like wine from Country X”. 


In addition, the current GI Act allows interested parties (producers, traders and associations of such producers and/or traders) to pursue civil action for unauthorised use of GIs. 


The GI Act 2014 


On 14 April 2014, Parliament passed the Geographical Indications Act 2014 (“the GI Act 2014“). The GI Act 2014 is the result of recently concluded negotiations between Singapore and the European Union under the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (“EUSFTA“), in which Singapore has agreed to strengthen the country’s GI regime. The GI Act 2014 will come into force at a later date.


Under the GI Act 2014, the enhanced level of protection currently afforded to wines and spirits will be extended to agricultural products and foodstuffs. A Registry of Geographical Indications (“GI Registry“) will also be established, allowing applicants to register GIs for (i) wines and spirits; and (ii) certain categories of agricultural products and foodstuffs such as cheese, meat and seafood. In addition, registration of a GI will be considered to be prima facie evidence of the validity of the registration in legal proceedings. 


The GI Act 2014 also provides improved border enforcement measures for registered GIs, by allowing owners of a registered GI product to request for Singapore Customs to seize suspected infringing goods to be imported or exported out of Singapore. 


The introduction of the GI Act 2014 is a welcomed development for consumers and businesses based in Singapore, as GI registration will improve the certainty of protection given to GIs in Singapore. Singapore-based businesses that are exporting or importing GIs can look forward to enhanced legal protection of products bearing GIs. Consumers will also be given greater assurance that a product bearing a registered GI name carries the characteristics that it is known for.

 

ATMD Bird & Bird

 

For further information, please contact:

 

Alban Kang, Partner, ATMD Bird & Bird

alban.kang@twobirds.com

 

ATMD Bird & Bird Intellectual Property Practice Profile in Singapore

 

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