Inventory of Intellectual Property
21 July, 2011
Inventory of Intellectual Property

Georgia may lose some of its intellectual assets if it does not haste up inventory of its national intellectual property.

Georgian trademarks will be more protected from fake within the EU. An agreement between Georgia and EU on mutual protection/certification of geographic indications of food and agriculture product in EU and vice versa was signed on July 15, 2011. The agreement envisages protection of appellations of origins of 18 Georgian wines while the EU list of protected geographic indications is

made by 4 thousand indications including Champaign, Cognac, and Bordeaux etc. Georgia has a right to enhance the list gradually but to this end it has to make a comprehensive inventory of targeted intellectual property first of all. Otherwise it can simply lose some part of its intellectual property. But registration of national intellectual property requires comprehensive paper workout providing with detailed description why this or that property is worthy of protection. But ministries that are responsible for compiling due papers lag behind timetables.

Meantime Geopatent, intellectual property protection body of Georgia, has already faced difficulties to untangle the embezzlement cases of Georgian intellectual assets led by wine. And this here agreement with the EU will be very helpful to this end, Irakli Gvaladze, Head of Geopatent, said.

“Protection of Georgian wines will be easier thanks to this here agreement,” Gvaladze said. “We have encountered lots of faked Georgian wine cases lately; some companies have even registered our wine appellations as their intellectual property and we cannot sue them till we have full set of legal tools at hand. And the questioned agreement unties hands to us to get our wine appellations back.”

For instance in 1999 and 2006, an American-based Dozortsev& Sons company distributing Georgian wines to the US market registered famous Georgian wine appellations of origins Kindzmarauli and Khvanchkara  as its trademarks respectively under pretext to protect the market from counterfeit. Gvaladze himself encountered a counterfeit Kindzmarauli in New York sold under Stalin brand as favorite drink of the soviet odious official and the content of the bottle was far remote of real Kindzmarauli wine. Similar cases were revealed in Baltic countries and Germany where certain Russian-based Moscow Wines & Spirits company registered Kindzmarauli and Tsinandali as its trademarks in 2001 for 10 years. And this tendency became really dangerous for there were very limited legal tools to sue imposters since they preceded Georgia to register its own geographic indications. The embezzlement tendency went ahead even this year irrespective the Georgia-EU agreement was already under procedures. In this past March, a Dagestan-based Central Kizlari Scientific-research Institute, one of the key providers of the Kremlin, asked Rospatent [Russian intellectual property protection body], for patent right on top ten Georgian wine brands within the Russian territory.

And since Kizlari company asked for registration Russian and Latin appellation names equally Georgian side suspects that the company plans to export Georgian branded wines within the EU. Geopatent appealed to Rospatent not to meet the request as it countered to Russian law itself and attached a voluminous documentation of arguments. Rospatent’s top official promised to take them into consideration but Georgian side cannot feel easy knowing that Russians are unpredictable.

“That’s why we accelerated endorsement of the agreement with the EU,” Gvaladze said. “If they really decide to register our wines within EU zone the EU will dismiss their request based on our agreement. Moreover we will declare our rights over wines embezzled by other companies.”

The Georgia-EU agreement is supposed to be ratified this coming fall creating full legal base for protection of Georgian wines within the EU space. However wines are not the only target for fake. Georgian grape varieties, cheese, sheep, songs, traditional spiced sauces Tkemali and Ajika, as well as Churchkhela –kind of traditional sweet candy made of nuts and grape juice - are frequently misused.

That’s why the list of protected geographic indications should enhance as soon as possible, Giorgi Kurdiani, Head of Trademark and Geographical Indications Department at Geopatent, thinks promising that the list will be enlarged to 100 by the end of the year. Geopatent urges to make things go faster lest repeat mistakes of past.

“For instance there are more than 500 grape varieties and we would like to make a catalogue of it to raise awareness but they can be embezzled easily if are not acknowledged and protected through international registration. To achieve this registration we need due paperwork that goes to agriculture ministry’s competence. We already face difficulties to register Saperavi as endemic Georgian varietal for it passed borders during soviet time and is planted in Armenia, Australia, and America that confuses things. We may lose things if do not make a haste,” Gvaladze said.

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