Building on developments at the national level, notably in Europe, WIPO has played a key role in creating Geographical Indications as a contemporary field of intellectual property (IP). The author identifies three main initiatives of WIPO that have been influential here. First, WIPO served as the forum for refining the GI concept eventually incorporated into Article 22.1 of the TRIPS Agreement, where it remains the international reference point. Secondly, commencing in 1988, dedicated WIPO symposia have identified topics which both reflect and inform the grammar and structure of international GI negotiations. These symposia form part of a broader pattern of activity, alongside reports for the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT), technical assistance programmes and the development of informational resources. Thirdly, WIPO is responsible for the operation of the Lisbon system for the international registration and protection of appellations of origin. The recent expansion of this system, culminating in the Geneva Act of 2015, exposed fundamental tensions relating to who has a say in multilateral law making and the extent to which specialized interests can be cross-subsidized by WIPO’s general membership. Disputes relating to the reform of Lisbon go to the heart of WIPO’s constitutional framework.
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