The Prospects and Limits of Blockchain Technologies in the Global Protection of Geographical Indications
Author(s): Marsha S. Cadogan
One of the dynamics of the technology age is the rise of intermediaries to complement or replace institutions traditionally tasked with performing everyday transactions. Blockchain technologies are one of the most disruptive advances of the technology age. It is set to revolutionize diverse transactions and will impact many aspects of existing global legal norms. This article is a law and policy-oriented analysis of the relevance of blockchain technologies to the development and sustenance of geographical indication (GI) industries globally. Recognizing that there are profound relationships between emerging technologies and intellectual property (IP) rights, the article analyzes what viable interlinkages can be forged between GI and blockchain technologies when globally there are conceptual and legal divergences in GI protection. The article identifies and evaluates four interconnections between blockchain technologies and GIs. These include the technology’s use as a differentiated platform for IP protection, the potential benefits and challenges of concluding GI transactions through smart contracts, and the extent of legal security provided by the technology’s ability to verify and trace transactions. The article also makes recommendations on how best to build sustainable relationships between GIs, the international and domestic IP system, and blockchain technologies.