Geographical indications

A geographical indication identifies a good as originating in a region, area or locality where its quality, reputation or other characteristic is attributable to that geographical origin.

Geographical indications (GI) are a form of collectively owned intellectual property rights usually associated with the production of foodstuffs like wine, spirits, cheeses and meat products from particular regions, areas or localities. For example, Champagne is a wine GI that may only be used on sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region in France.

Protection for geographical indications in New Zealand

In New Zealand, protection for geographical indications is provided by:

  • the Fair Trading Act 1986
  • the common law tort of ‘passing off’
  • trade mark law
  • the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006.

The Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006 establishes a registration regime for the geographical indications of wine and spirits. The regime is administered by the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ).

Find out more about the registration for geographical indications for wine and spirits on the IPONZ website(external link)

Fair Trading Act 1986

Section 9 of the Fair Trading Act 1986 provides that "No person shall, in trade, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive".

A product that does not originate from the geographical area indicated, or that does not possess the characteristics for which a geographical indication is known, could be found to breach the Act.

Find out more about fair trading on the Commerce Commission’s website(external link)

Passing off of goods or services

The law of passing off prevents one trader from passing their goods or services off as those of another.

In New Zealand, passing off has been used by French wine interests to prevent non-French winemakers from labelling their sparkling wine with “Champagne”, a term protected as a geographical indication in the European Community.

For a passing off action to succeed:

  • there must be goodwill attached to the goods or services
  • there must be a misrepresentation, whether intentional or not
  • there must be damage to the goodwill.

Trade mark law

A geographical indication may be protected in New Zealand as a trade mark, including as a collective or certification trade mark.

Find out more about New Zealand trade mark registration and protection on the IPONZ website.(external link)