A geographical indication (“GI”) is a sign that identifies a product as originating from a specific venue or location and has given characteristics and qualities that are unique to its location or origin.

Champagne – a sparkling wine made from grapes grown in the French region of the same name, is one of France’s most famous products – became the first foreign product to be awarded Geographical Indication (“GI”) status in Cambodia on 29 April 2019. Cambodian Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak was quoted as saying “we do hope to see more products from France and other foreign countries registering in Cambodia.”

On the home front, Cambodia also has two local products, namely, the Kampot pepper and Kampong Speu Palm Sugar that enjoy GI recognition in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and the European Union. Applications for GI status for Kep salt flower (fleur de sel), Kratie pomelo, Phnom Srok silk, Battambang fragrant rice, Battambang oranges, Siem Reap prahok (a salted, fermented fish paste) and Kampot durian are pending.

Cambodia was the first country in the world to join the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications in 2018. This act allows for a single application with a single set of fees to be filed through the World Intellectual Property Office for registration of GI across multiple jurisdictions, rather than making a separate application in each individual country.

The above demonstrates a step by Cambodia towards developing a strong and mature IP system to protect geographical indications for the benefit of consumers and producers alike.

A version of this article first appeared in the August 2019 issue of Asia IP Magazine. For more info, visit http://www.asiaiplaw.com/