A related concept to trademarks is a geographic indication (GI), which is also protected by the federal Lanham Act. The term comes from the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). The TRIPs Agreement sets forth standards to regulate international intellectual property protection and enforcement and establishes international minimum standards for the protection of geographical indications.
Geographical indications are defined in TRIPs as
|“||indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin.||”|
This means that a GI is a sign used to indicate the regional origin of particular goods/services and that there must be a link between some characteristic of the good and the particular region where it was produced. A geographic indication acts to protect the quality and reputation of a distinctive product originating in a certain region; however, the benefit does not accrue to a sole producer, but rather to all of the producers of a region.
Geographic indications are generally sought for agricultural products, or wines and spirits. Protection for geographical indications is acquired in the United States by registration with the USPTO, through a process similar to trademark registration.