Some insights into the Guimaras mangoes geographical indication in the PhilippinesAAA IPRIGHT2
The registration of Guimaras mangoes as a Geographical Indication (GI) provides a significant competitive advantage for the Carabao mango variety grown on the island province of Guimaras in the Philippines. Arjel de Guzman, the founding director of OPTMARKS in Manila, believes that the GI system represents a crucial step forward in the country’s intellectual property infrastructure, benefiting not only the mango industry but also the overall agricultural and indigenous sectors.
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) recently introduced the GI System as a new intellectual property regime in the country. In May 2023, Guimaras mangoes became the first registered GI in the Philippines when IPOPHL approved the application from the Guimaras Mango Growers and Producers Development Cooperative.
De Guzman highlights the significance of the GI tag for the agricultural sector, stating that distinctions like this are rare and will undoubtedly enhance the popularity of Guimaras mangoes. According to the World Intellectual Property Office, a GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation due to that origin.
Guimaras mangoes are renowned for being the sweetest mangoes in the world, characterized by their ellipsoid shape, thin seed, juicy flesh, and non-fibrous texture. These exceptional qualities are attributed to the unique soil conditions and elevation of Guimaras, which provide proper drainage and create an ideal environment for cultivating carabao mangoes.
The GI registration not only protects Guimaras mango farmers from unauthorized use of their product’s goodwill and reputation but also grants them control over maintaining its quality and specific characteristics. This registration gives the farmers a significant advantage in terms of marketing and exclusive technological control, which, as observed with GI-identified products in other countries, often leads to increased production and sales.
De Guzman emphasizes the broader impact of GI registrations, particularly in the context of the Philippines, where agriculture constitutes approximately 10% of the annual GDP and is one of the country’s three main industries.
By offering an additional layer of protection to local and indigenous products deserving of GI recognition, these products gain added value and competitiveness in both local and global markets. GI registrations have the potential to attract more investments, foster business growth, and garner support from stakeholders. This, in turn, can contribute to job creation and the development of culture, heritage, and local economies in smaller communities across the country.
De Guzman notes that several other Philippine products are eligible for GI registration, including T’nalak Tau Sebu handwoven fabrics from Lake Sebu in the South Cotabato province, Pili Nut from Bicol, Durian products from Davao, and Lanzones from Camiguin Island, among others. These products, with their distinct geographical origins and unique qualities, have the potential to benefit from GI protection and further contribute to the growth and recognition of the Philippines’ agricultural and indigenous sectors.
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