Navigating between Modernization and Patrimonialization: The Institutionalization of Geographical Indications in Brazil

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:30
Oral Presentation
John WILKINSON, Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Gilberto Cerqueira MASCARENHAS, Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Similarly to most developing countries, Brazil started to internalize Geographical Indications (GI) as a mandatory condition following on the signing of the TRIPS Agreement. Nevertheless, the way this mechanism was incorporated by the Brazilian Law on Intellectual Property (LPI n.9.279/1996) suggests that local actors have not only introduced innovations not covered by the international agreement, but also defined a very flexible model. This is one reason why the country has advanced relatively fast in recognizing a variety of regions and products. Until august 2017, Brazil has registered 45 Indications of Provenance and 10 Denominations of Origin for national products. These registers cover a wide variety of goods, from traditional agri-food products such as wine, cheese and coffee, to non-agricultural artisanal goods, and even services. This paper analyses GI institutionalization focusing on how the organizations directly involved in this process interpret the Brazilian model. Research was conducted over the last four years within the scope of a multi-institutional project sponsored by the Brazilian Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). It involved interviews with policy makers, researchers and stakeholders, as well as case studies in different regions and sectors. The results reveal conflicting understandings not only about the regulatory framework currently in force, but also on the employment of this mechanism. On one extreme, GIs are seeing as normative constraints used to promote technological modernization. On the other, they are conceived as part of an effort to patrimonialize traditional practices of production. In most cases, however, projects are navigating between these two extremes. At the same time as this has been considered a positive effect of the ‘soft’ institutional Brazilian model, it has increased apprehension about the risk of the ‘de-characterization’ of this mechanism, even before it becomes recognized by Brazilian consumers, another critical point for GI development in this country.