A GI is a mark that identifies any goods as originating in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin. GIs are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wines and spirits, handicrafts and industrial products. “Jamaica Jerk” was the first GI granted in the English speaking Caribbean.
Protection of a GI in St. Kitts and Nevis can be applied for by a competent authority, group of consumers or any person or group of persons from the specific geographical area that produces the goods. On registration of the GI, it would be their responsibility to ensure that all of the products with the mark meet the quality and reputational standards or characteristics that were outlined in the application.
Only producers carrying out the activity in the geographical area have the right to use a registered GI. The products that are identified by the GI must possess the quality, reputation or other characteristic connected to the GI.
GI right holders have the right to prevent:
- Use of the GI on good that would mislead the public as to the true geographical origin of the goods
- Use that constitutes unfair competition
- Use of a GI on a wine or spirit that does not originate in the place of the GI or even where the true origin of the goods is indicated or the GI is translated or accompanied by expressions such as “kind”, “type”, “style”, “imitation”, etc. For example, a right holder for a “Charlestown Rum” GI can bring an action against another rum producer who labels his rum “Charlestown-style Rum”
Considerations are ongoing to implement a separate registration system specifically to register geographical indications in St. Kitts and Nevis. However, there may still be limited protection available under collective mark protection (see the section on Trademarks). Note however, that while both are marks that are capable of indicating that the goods to which they are attached have special characteristics or qualities:
- The reputation associated with GI is attributed solely to a specific geographical area while the reputation of a collective mark can be connected to characteristics attributed to the geographical area as well as other characteristics.
- Collective mark rights expire after ten (10) years and the owner has to take action to renew it for consecutive ten year periods while GI rights last unless it is cancelled by an order of the Court
There is no specific period of a protection for GIs in the law. This means that the protection for a registered geographical indication will remain valid unless the registration is cancelled.
GI rights are territorial. This means that these rights are limited to the country where protection is granted.