• Why protect appellations of origin?

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    THE olive oil from the Baux de Provence valley is in a small territory which is only seven kilometers wide and twenty five kilometers long. It is located on the east side of the Rhone River. The rocky soil gives the characteristic aroma to the olives that are later used for the preparation of olive oil. This unique characteristic was later recognized and a French appellation of origin was granted to the olive oil from Baux de Provence in 1996. The protection of the olive oil benefits 2,300 producers of olive oil and represents 20% of the French national production which is approximately 400,000 liters a year.

    The list of specifications governing the use of the appellation contains strict requirements such as the authorized plantation density, the size of the olive trees, or the time it takes before the olive is processed into oil after picked from the trees. The specifications in summary lists those items which cannot be copied by others effectively stamping a patent or trademark on the olive oil produced in Provence.

    But why protect appellations of origins?

    An appellation of origin is a special kind of geographical indication which consists of a geographical name or traditional designation used on products which have a specific quality or characteristic specific to a particular region or geographical environment. Under Article 2 of the Lisbon agreement, appellations of origin are defined as, “the geographical denomination of a country, region or locality which serves to designate a product originating therein, the quality or characteristics of which are due exclusively or essentially to the geographical environment, including natural and human factors. The country of origin is the country whose name, or the country in which is situated the region or locality whose name, constitutes the appellation of origin that has given the product its reputation.”

    Appellations of origin are a collective tool for producers to promote the products of their territory and also to preserve the quality and reputation of the product acquired over time. The use of the protected appellation of origin is reserved to those producers that are able to meet a number of specifications including the geographical area of production, methods of production and product characteristics among others.

    For the producers, the appellation helps them obtain good prices for their products for maintaining high and constant levels of quality. Consumers on the other hand are guaranteed quality products. As a whole, the guarantee of quality and excellence of the products benefits the country. As it increases production, more jobs are created while ensuring sustainability of production. It also enables the redistribution of added value across the whole production chain from the producer of the raw material to the manufacturer and retailer.

    The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines embarked on this program about three years or so ago and enlisted ten products like Guimara mangoes, Bonoan Bangus, Aklan Pina and others. It would be good to do a review how this has benefitted the producers and consumers alike. After all, a good program such as this must be continued even when administrations or leaders change. For continuity ensures success.

    Alas, this has been the problem of our politics and one that must change with a new breed of leaders–better than the ones we have now.

    God is Great!

    thelmadm@yahoo.com

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