To comply with its obligations under the recently approved European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (“EUSFTA”), Singapore has established a new Registry of Geographical Indications (“GI Registry”). The GI Registry commences operations with effect from 01 April 2019.
A significant development is that GI protection will now be extended to agricultural products and foodstuffs such as cheese and cured meats, in addition to the protection already available for wines and spirits.
Furthermore, producers and traders of registered GIs will also have recourse against infringing goods which are imported into or exported from Singapore. The producers and traders may liaise with the customs authorities to detain infringing goods.
The application procedure for GIs mirrors the application procedure for trademarks. According to the Singapore Registry’s website, to file an application, the following information is required:
1. the name, address, and nationality of the applicant;
2. the capacity in which the applicant is applying for registration;
3. the representation of the GI for which registration is sought;
4. the geographical area to which the GI applies;
5. the goods to which the GI applies;
6. the quality, reputation or other characteristic of the goods and how that quality, reputation or other characteristic is essentially attributable to the place from which the goods originate; and
7. where the GI for which registration is sought relates to a qualifying country other than Singapore, evidence that the GI has obtained recognition or registration as a GI in the qualifying country of origin.
Registration will be valid for a period of ten (10) years and can thereafter be renewed for further periods of ten (10) years.
Interested applicants should file applications as soon as possible to protect their GIs to ensure an added layer of protection in Singapore.