Getting the Rules of the Road Right

March 12th, 2017

chinaA key CCFN focus recently has been encouraging country rules on geographical indications and trademarks that include strong due process protections for common names and establish clear procedures for handling GI requests. In January, for example, after extensive engagement with CCFN and U.S. policymakers, China published updated trademark guidance that emphasized the importance of evaluating a mark as a whole and included strong language for evaluating what constitutes a generic term. Among those elements were references to product standards and dictionary citations, two key indicators CCFN has touted as relevant to making generic usage decisions.

CCFN continued this focus in February by submitting comments urging the strengthening of draft geographical indication regulations in South Africa and draft GI legislation in both Pakistan and Myanmar. While all three countries would prohibit the registration of generic terms as GIs, CCFN noted that none of the countries adequately defined the term generic and none included provisions that sufficiently defined the scope of protection for geographical indications. A good model, CCFN said, should provide clarity in the marketplace by allowing the scope of protection to be properly defined. In the case of compound GIs, CCFN said, applicants should also be required to identify terms that they do not have exclusive rights to.