22 January 2020
On 6 January 2020, the Geographical Indications (Amendment) Bill (“Bill”) was introduced for first reading in Parliament. This Bill seeks to amend the Geographical Indications Act 2014 (“GI Act”) for the following main purposes:
- Request for qualification of rights to be made before registration of GI: A qualification of the rights conferred under the GI Act in respect of a registered geographical indication (“GI”) may only be requested before a GI is registered and may not be made if the qualification of rights would render the registration of a name contained in a GI, or a term which may be a possible translation of a GI, nugatory.
- Application for limitation of scope to be entered in register: After a GI is registered, a person may apply to the High Court for an order that a limitation of the scope of any of the rights conferred under the GI Act in respect of a registered GI be entered in the register.
- Clarification and definition relating to variants: The Bill also seeks to clarify that the grounds for refusal of registration apply in respect of a variant, and that a variant that falls within any of the applicable grounds for refusal of registration may be cancelled. “Variant” is defined in the Bill as a variant of the indication constituting a GI, and includes any translation, transliteration or other variation of the indication. As an illustration, the Bill provides that in the case of a GI known as “Apples of Singapore”, the terms “Lion City Apples” (being a variation) and “Epal Singapura” (being a translation) are variants of the GI.
GIs are terms which are used to inform consumers that a product, mostly food and drink, comes from a particular place. The GI Act established a new system of registration in Singapore to improve the certainty of protection given to GIs with effect from 1 April 2019. Registration of a GI will provide the holder with certainty that a term is recognised as a GI and is therefore entitled to all the protections enjoyed by a GI, without needing to confirm this before the courts. This will facilitate enforcement of these rights.