The protection of geographical indications (GIs) for foodstuffs is a hotly debated question, both within the academic community and the political arenas. Even if GIs are unanimously recognized as part of the Intellectual Property domain, their proprietary dimension has been understudied so far, especially with regard to the fact they constitute a form of commonly-held property. My research proposal aims at filling this gap, combining comparative analysis with an interpretative account which explores the meanings, values and practices associated to this peculiar proprietary paradigm. Specifically, I will compare two legal systems which epitomize two different approaches: Europe and Canada. Indeed, while the first has created an ad hoc system for protecting the place of origin of foodstuffs centred on GIs, the latter has preferred to make recourse to more traditional tools, such as trademarks, employing GIs in a limited way. The research proposed outcome is to obtain a better understanding of: 1) which form of Intellectual Property GIs are; 2) which functions they perform, especially vis à vis other forms of IP. The second question seeks to connect the peculiar proprietary nature of GIs to the functions they perform, by asking whether such nature allows a better accomplishment of the three functions usually associated to them: 1. protection of the manufacturers’ investments in differentiating their products; 2. consumers’ information; 3. protection of cultural traditions and rural communities. The training I can receive at the outgoing and return host institutions would strengthen my research career, extending my expertise to a field at the crossroad between IP law and food law and acquiring important new methodological competencies on the use of an interpretative method of analysis in comparative law. The new skills and knowledge gained during the fellowship can be used both for conducting innovative and original research and for enriching my teaching.
Fields of science
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