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The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) is cooperating with the French National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO) to establish a framework on the promotion of geographical indication (GI) in enhancing the competitiveness of agricultural and food products. 

In a news statement issued on Thursday, IPOPHL said it signed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) with the French National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO) on July 27. Under the MOC, IPOPHL commits to raise awareness in GI and facilitate capacity building activities conducted locally by INAO. 

INAO, for its part, commits to share with IPOPHL its best practices and experiences from its policies and programs in promoting French GI. 

“INAO will also conduct training on the examination of applications, regulation and supervision of agricultural and food GIs and capacity building to help local agricultural and food industry groups develop, register and protect their GIs,” said IPOPHL.

IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba emphasized that this cooperation will help the Philippines enhance the competitive advantage of its local products.

“Given the value GI seals can bring, this partnership will deepen the understanding and eventual use of GI in the country, in turn, enhancing the competitive advantage of Philippine products, improving their export potential and contributing to the overall national goal of economic recovery and resilience,” said Barba.

Further, the IPOPHL chief said the partnership with INAO is aligned with IPOPHL’s efforts to push for a GI protection regime in the Philippines.

IPOPHL said it has recently finalized the rules on GI registration. “The rules have been submitted to its mother agency, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), for review, and hopefully, the approval soon of the new DTI secretary,” said Barba. 

IPOPHL has already laid out several potential GIs across the country, including the Guimaras Mangoes, Tau Sebu T’nalak, the Cordillera Heirloom Rice and the Bikol Pili, which are all registered as collective marks. 

Other products are the Davao Pomelo; Camiguin Lanzones; Davao Cacao; Kalinga Coffee; Antique’s Bagtason Loom; Aurora’s Sabutan Weave; Samar’s Basey Banig; and Basilan and Zamboanga’s Yakan cloth. 

“A GI is a sign used to identify goods whose quality, reputation or other characteristics are strongly connected to their territory of origin. As such, it serves as a positive branding tool that increases customer interest and confidence and attracts not only investors but also tourists,” said IPOPHL.

IPOPHL said the INAO is responsible for approving, examining and regulating the protection of agricultural and food GIs in France and abroad. 

According to the World Intellectual Property Indicators 2021, France is the 8th country in the European Union with the largest number of GIs with 5,419 in force as of September 2021. 

Europe currently has the most GIs in force across all regions with a share of 60 percent.