Canada: What You Need To Know About Geographical Indications In Canada

A geographical indication (GI) is a type of intellectual property defined in the Trade-marks Act. GI refers to a name, sign or other indication used to identify a wine, spirit, agricultural product or food as originating in a country, territory, region, or locality that is of a quality, reputation or other characteristic attributable to that geographical origin.

From a consumer's perspective, GIs function to indicate to the consumer that the products are made from a particular region or that the products contain characteristics unique to those manufactured from a particular region. Many GIs have important economic and cultural value to the territories they represent. By way of example, Napa Valley, Okanagan Valley, Champagne, Port, and Asiago are protected GIs in Canada.

What can be protected using GIs in Canada?

In the past, Canadian law only attributed GI protection to wines and spirits. However, as of September 21, 2017 and as a result of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), Canadian law now offers protection for 24 more categories of agricultural products and food:

1. Fresh, frozen and processed meats

9. Cereals

17. Sugars and syrups

2. Dry-cured meats

10. Products of the milling industry

18. Pasta

3. Fresh, frozen, processed fish products

11. Oilseeds

19. Table and processed olives

4. Butter

12. Hops

20. Mustard paste

5. Cheeses

13. Ginseng

21. Beer

6. Fresh and processed vegetable products

14. Beverages from plant extracts

22. Vinegar

7. Fresh and processed fruits and nuts

15. Oils and animal fats

23. Essential Oils

8. Spices

16. Confectionery and baked products

24. Natural gums and resins — chewing gum


The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) maintains a list of protected GIs that can be accessed at its website.

What Does GI Protection Mean?

Like other forms of intellectual property, such as trademarks and copyright, GI protection offers the owner with certain rights. A GI provides the right to prevent another person or business from "using" the GI in Canada on products that do not originate from the relevant territory referenced by the GI. "Use" of a GI includes activities such as sale and advertising of the goods in Canada, importation of goods into Canada, and exportation of goods from Canada to other countries. This right, however, is limited to products and goods classified under the same category. There are also a number of exceptions which may allow another party to use a GI. Some of the exceptions are listed below:

  1. The GI owner provided consent.
  2. The GI is a person's name or the name of a predecessor in title.
  3. The GI is used in comparative advertising.
  4. The GI is no longer protected by the law of the territory or has fallen into disuse.
  5. The GI is a term customary in common language in Canada.

Please note that not all the possible exceptions have been listed in this article. Several other exceptions for specific GIs or categories of goods also exist. If you have any doubts, it is best to consult with a lawyer or a trademark professional to assess the specific circumstances.

Given that there are all these exceptions, it can be challenging to fully canvass how GIs are protected in Canada. Figure 1 sets out a number of hypothetical examples:

Figure 1:

Protected GI

Use by Second Party

Is Use by Second Party allowed?

"ABC" for cheese from Spain

Use of "ABC" on cheese packaging; product is made in Canada


"CDE" for olive oil from Italy

Use of "CDE" on dry-cured meat; product is made in Canada

(different product categories)

"XYZ" for dry-cure meat from France

Use of "XYZ" for dry-cured meat; product is made in Canada; owner's name is "Jason XYZ"

(exception based on person's name)

"Asiago" for cheese from Italy

Use of "Asiago Style Cheese" for cheese; product is made in Canada

(exception specific to Asiago applies — addition of "style" is permitted)

"Petite Cantal" for cheese from France

Use of "Petite Cantal like cheese" for cheese; product is made is Canada

(addition of "like" is insufficient. This exception only applies to certain cheeses but not Petite Canal.)

"Parmigiano Reggiano" for cheese from Italy

Use of "Parmesan" for cheese; product is from Canada

(Use of "parmesan" is permitted based on an exception)


The protection afforded by GIs becomes more complex when considering translations of otherwise protected GIs. Use of the translation of a GI for wines, spirits or GI's protected through CETA would continue to be protected. However, use of translations of GIs protected through applications in Canada would only be protected if the translation is also listed as a protected GI. We recommend discussing with a professional for this type of inquiries.

How can you Obtain and Enforce GI Protection in Canada?

In order to apply for GI protection in Canada, a responsible party must submit a request to have the GI listed. This "responsible party" is an entity (person or business) that is by reason of state or commercial interest, sufficiently connected with and knowledgeable of the category of the product. Each request must be accompanied by a fee of $450. CIPO offers a detailed guide on how to apply for GIs. Assuming all requirements are met at filing, based on data in 2018, it will take approximately five to eight months to enter a new GI on the list of protected GIs in Canada.

Once a GI enters the list, it is then possible to enforce the protected GI from third-party use through a number of avenues discussed below. A Canadian lawyer or a trademark agent should be consulted for assistance in obtaining and enforcing GI protection.

1. Under the Trade-marks Act through the CBSA Request for Assistance Program

Under the Request for Assistance Program (RFA), intellectual property rights holders can file a written request to temporarily detain suspected counterfeit and pirated goods entered at the border. These applications remain valid for two years (can renew every two years at the applicant's request). As a result of CETA, GI right holders are able to make use of this program to enforce protection of their GIs. Information on how to apply for the RFA Program can be found on the CBSA's website.

2. Through Court Proceedings

In order to enforce the GI, an owner may initiate a court proceeding in Canada against a third party's unauthorized use. Litigation however is expensive and complex and a GI owner should consider legal counsel before embarking on this method of GI protection.

3. Under the Food and Drugs Act

The Food and Drugs Act contains provisions prohibiting misleading labelling. A GI owner may enforce a GI by filing a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The CFIA enforces the food safety and labelling rules outlined in the Food and Drugs Act. In order to file a complaint, a GI owner may use an online form provided by CFIA to report a food safety or labelling concern. The CFIA may then conduct an investigation and take administrative action.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions