Emily Nation


Geographical indications are a type of intellectual property right. GIs exist where a product is named after its geographical origin and where the product has certain qualities attributable to its geography. Examples of GIs include Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese, Champagne, and Florida oranges. Governmental regulation of GIs protects producers' hardearned reputations from free-riding and reassures consumers that a product's origin is accurately represented. This Comment will explain how GIs are currently protected under international law as well as under domestic laws in the United States and the European Union. It will also discuss the international debate over the proper level of protection for GIs, a debate in which the United States and the European Union have become entrenched opponents with billions of dollars at stake. This Comment argues that the United States should increase its domestic protections for GIs. Substantial numbers of consumers seek out GIs because GIs represent small-scale, quality-oriented production schemes. Increased GI protections would benefit these consumers and producers. However, increased protections could prove chaotic because the American grocery store is awash with inaccurate geographical food labels. This Comment attempts to achieve a balance that recognizes and respects the value of traditional regional products while maximizing informed consumer choice in the free market. *