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© 2017 Mansur Murad Advogados

 

 

 

   Fashion production helps defining brand identity. Sustainability, wearables, ethic fashion, they are all related to manufacturing and consumers demand quality and transparency when it comes to their clothes. However, according to Yogesh Pai and Tania Singla:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Features of fashion items closely related to the production section can be protected through Geographical Indications, which protects distinctive signs regarding the origin of goods and services with a quality standard. Quality marks can help consumers identifying brands that truly have high-quality products and the ones that are just deceiving the consumers.

 

   The examination of geographical indications is very strict and requires specific quality indicators and inspections to guarantee the minimum quality value expected and desired for consumers. Although GIs are applicable to manufactured goods, they are not commonly used in fashion industry due to lack of information and incentives. A good example is from India, that encourages the protection of Geographical Indications, with more than 303 registrations, including the famous Kashmir Pashmina[2].

 

     The Kashmir Pashmina was originally created to substitute the Shahtoosh shawl, which was made with wool from Tibetan Antelope, an endangered animal protected by the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The hand-woven Pashminas are also an excellent source of employment for women workers from the region of Kashmir. It is an answer to sustainable and ethical fashion in the country.

 

     For the product hold the Kashmir Pashmina GI, the shawl needs to be hand woven and have the quality standard of originality of fabric, finesse of thread, spinning and weaving. The Indian Government protects the producers of Kashmir Pashmina to the point that each product that bears a Geographical Indication has a label with a number that can be verified on a website to check the veracity and avoid counterfeits of Pashminas around the world[3]. The Geographical Indication aims to protect traditional workers that were losing profit due to mill-made Pashminas, which had lower prices.

 

     Other GIs in India are the Kashmir Sozani and Kani Shawl. The Kashmir Sozani protects an embroidery for Kashmir Pashmina Shawls, made with needles in different sizes that create a unique stitch and requires up to three artisans, taking between one month to one year to complete[4]. The Kani Shawl is a type of Shawl made with wooden needles called ‘kanis’, together with the handloom and can take up to one year to complete[5].

 

     India has an active programme to protect their traditional knowledge, which resulted in the proactive use of Geographical Indications. The plan “Make In India” was created with the goal of turning India into a global production hub[6], bringing fame to Indian products due to

their quality and standard. The use of GIs is helping producers to preserve their culture, avoiding the use of cheaper and modern processes by other parties. They can keep selling their products with the price their work deserves with a quality seal, placing the product in a higher category.

 

     Furthermore, Switzerland has the Geographical Indication for Swiss watch. A Swiss watch with the GI will not contain more than 40% of its value of foreign material in the ex-works price[7]. In other words, at least 60% of the manufacturing costs must be made in Switzerland.

 

     Jeanne Fromer affirms that the Swiss watch is a good example of the malleability a GI can have[8]. According to Fromer, the definition implies that the watch does not need to be entirely made in Switzerland. The technical development, including assembly and inspection, of the watch must take place in Switzerland. The aesthetics, such as idea and design, can be from abroad.

 

    The appellation for the Swiss Watch aims to “guarantee satisfaction of the consumer who, when buying a Swiss made watch, expect it to correspond to the quality and the reputation of Swiss watchmaking tradition and therefore to be manufactured in Switzerland and to incorporate a high added value of Swiss origin.”[9]

 

     Both examples show how GIs can promote a country and protect traditional knowledge. They can protect centuries of culture for future generations, such as the Kashmir Pashmina that protects the people who learn the techniques and do not have the financial and technical means to protect their business and knowledge. In addition, the country can become famous due to the GI. For example, we cannot ignore the fame of the Swiss watches, which includes Breitling, Rolex, Tissot and Cartier.

 

     Fashion should take advantage of Geographical Indications. They help consumers identifying quality products and place manufacturers on the spotlight. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) conducted a survey among European Union consumers on the effectiveness of GIs. The results showed that non-agricultural products that carried registered geographical indications consumers are willing to pay a premium of up to 5 and 10 per cent.[10] The survey demonstrates that they are an efficient way of branding and could be very useful in the fashion industry, including as a strategy for battling knockoffs. Therefore, the protection is broader and stronger for the fashion marks. It gives them the advantage of not needing to prove confusion, unfair advantage, dilution, or similar, because it is a matter of carrying a GI or not.

 

     On top of that, consumers will perceive the GI and brand quicker than others. Brands without the GI can take years building their image, but a manufacturer that benefits from a GI has the advantage of shortening this process because there is already an image and fame built and perceived by consumers.

 

     Geographical Indication is an important asset to bring the consumer closer to the product. It gives perception of who is making the clothes and where is being made. To sum up, it brings certainty to a better fashion production chain, more ethical and more sustainable.

 

 

 

Isadora Schumacher Schlindwein

Intellectual Property LLM – Queen Mary University of London

Attorney at Mansur Murad Advogados

FOOTNOTES

[1] Yogesh Pai and Tania Singla, “’Vanity GIs’: India’s Legislation on Geographical Indications and the Missing Regulatory Framework”, in Irene Calboli and Wee Loon Ng-Loy (ed) ‘Geographical Indications at the Crossroads of Trade, Development, and Culture’, (Cambridge University Press, 2017) pg. 336.

[2] The Kashmir Pashmina is a product obtained from the fibre known as Pashm from a goat that lives in the region of Ladakh of Kashmir. In: Solomon International Arts & Craft, ‘Geographical Indication (GI) Label on Kashmir Pashmina’ (Kashmir Pashmina: The Story of Most Luxurious Fabric, 11 July 2017) < https://kashmirpashminagi.com/geographical-indication-label-on-kashmir-pashmina/> accessed 31 January.

[3] Press Trust Of India, ‘GI mark for handwoven pashmina shawls’ (Business Standard, 5 August 2013) <http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/gi-mark-for-handwoven-pashmina-shawls-113080501152_1.html> accessed 31 January 2018.

[4] Sanjiv Singh, ‘Geographical Indication; A case study of ‘Kashmir Sozani’ and ‘Kani Shawl’’. [2015] New Man International Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies. Vol.2. Issue 6. 152-159. < https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311613711_Geographical_Indication_A_case_study_of_Kashmir_Pashmina_Shawls > 153-154.

[5] Ibid, pg. 157.

[6] The Hindu, ‘Delivering on Make in India’ (The Hindu, 22 February 2016) < http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/delivering-on-make-in-india/article8264632.ece > accessed 31 January 2018.

[7] “ex-works price” is the price paid to the manufacturer in whose enterprise the last working or processing. In: Federation Of The Swiss Watch Industry FH, ‘Guide To The Use Of The Designation “Swiss” For Watches’, [12 July 2016] Version 4 < http://www.fhs.swiss/file/8/Guide_V4_-_Guide_EN.pdf>. Accessed 01 February 2018. Pg. 4

[8] Jeanne C. Fromer, ‘The Unregulated Certification Mark(et)’, [2017] Volume 69 Stanford Law Review 121-200. Pg. 148

[9] World Intellectual Property Organization “Geographical Indications: an introduction” <http://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/geographical/952/wipo_pub_952.pdf>. Accessed 02 February 2018 at 15:29. Pg. 11

[10] Ibid. Pg. 337