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New Singapore registry can protect names of geographically unique products

THE names of geographically unique agricultural products and foodstuffs, including cheeses and cured meats, will receive greater protection with the setting up of a new registry in Singapore. 

From April 1, the Registry of Geographical Indications (GI) at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) will to start to receive applications from anywhere in the world, IPOS said in a statement on Friday. 

"A form of intellectual property, GIs provide consumers with information about the products' unique characteristics, qualities or reputation that are attributable to their geographical origins, helping consumers make better informed buying decisions," IPOS added. 

Some of the GIs already found in supermarkets here include Pinggu peaches from China, Idaho potatoes from the US, Ichida Gaki (dried persimmon) from Japan, Waiheke Island wine from New Zealand, and Champagne wine from France.

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While GI protection is currently available for wines and spirits, the establishment of the new registry will extend GI protection to other produce, including cheeses and cured meats, IPOS said. 

The authority added that applications will undergo a "fair and transparent examination process". 

Once registered in Singapore, producers and traders of GI products will enjoy an "enhanced level of protection", where they will be able to request for the customs authorities to detain suspected infringing goods, imported into or exported from Singapore, IPOS said. 

The new GI Registry comes after the European Parliament approved the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) on Feb 13, and the enhanced level of protection will be implemented in stages in accordance with the ratification of the EUSFTA.

"With the establishment of the GI Registry, consumers can look forward to a broader range of good quality wines, spirits and agricultural products on our food shelves and dining establishments," IPOS said.

There are close to 60,000 GIs protected under various mechanisms worldwide, of which, more than half are for wines and spirits.