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AIPPI: Potatoes shine in collective marks session

Issued: October 14 2015

RIO DE JANEIRO (OCTOBER 13, 2015) – It’s every entrepreneur’s dream, to create a product so successful that it brings premium prices on the marketplace. But businesses must be aware that there are legal problems that come along with success, said Patrick Kole of the Idaho Potato Commission, speaking at a session of the AIPPI World Congress here. The session discussed  geographical indications and other methods of registering such products, including collective marks and certification marks.


Kole’s product, potatoes grown in the Pacific Northwest US state of Idaho – which, he said, can fetch a premium of 35 to 50 US cents per five pound bag – have reached the point where the organization has to regularly defend it against competitors who attempt to capitalize off the name Idaho. The Commission spent some US$13 million on a single case against  aNew York company which was selling potatoes from Canada as “Idaho Potatoes.”


The session included information about all three types of marks, and a panel discussion involving the audience on the pros and cons of different types of protection. 


“It’s a very heated topic,” said panel moderator Guilio Sironi, a partner at Vanzetti e Associati in Milan. “There are very different approaches in various jurisdictions.”


Kole said that a major difference between the GI system and the US system of certification marks was in the approach to quality. “In the GI system, tthe emphasis is on quality, while in the certification mark system in the US, there is no requirement of quality. You could actually certify dirty, rotten, stinky potatoes, and that could be a certification mark,” he said. “Now, nobody would buy dirty, rotten, stinky potatoes, but you could do so.”


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