Study visit to Europe on Geographical Indications, (24-28 May 2004)
As part of the ECAP II National Programme, a delegation of senior Thai officials travelled to Europe to study the implementation of Geographical Indications (GI) regime for food product. One of the world?s leading producers and major exporters of agricultural produce, Thailand recently passed a law on GI protection and the Kingdom is working to institute a system to register many of its products for GI protection. The study visit delegation consisted of seven officials from the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court, the Office of the Attorney-General, and from the government agencies that will be active users of GI system namely the departments of Intellectual Property, Industrial Promotion, and Agriculture. The visit began in Paris, where the senior Thai officials met and exchanged views with representatives from the French National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Institute of Appellations of Origin (INAO).
The delegation?s visit to Munich focussed on how GI protection is applied successfully to food and agricultural products ? an experience extremely relevant to the Thai situation. The group had the opportunity to learn how GI protection fits in the marketing strategies for reputed products such as ?Marzipan,? and those by the Asparagus Association of Schrobenhausen. For practical issues relating to administrative procedures, the Thai delegates heard first-hand experiences directly from agencies such as the Bavarian Ministry for Agriculture and the German customs.
From Germany, the Thai officials travelled to Brussels to confer with officials from the European Commission?s Directorate-General for Trade and the Directorate-General for Agriculture. In the final stop of the programme, they visited Parma in Italy, home to two of the world-famous names that testify to the importance of GIs ? Parma Ham and Parmesan cheese.
?Since the Thai law for GI protection has just been enforced, there will soon be cases reaching the Court. To learn from the countries with experiences and achievements in GI protection would prepare us for problems which will occur in the future, ?said Mrs. Suvicha Nakvachara, Deputy Chief Judge, Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court, the leader of the Thai delegation about the activity. Mr. Somjate Prathummintra, agricultural scientist from the Department of Agriculture added that he returned to Thailand equipped with plenty of information that can be applied to his future works in Thailand.
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