Geographical indications, domain name and business names

What are geographical indications

 

A GI informs consumers that a product comes from a certain place and has special qualities due to that place of origin, for example, Bordeaux (wine) and Darjeeling (tea). It may be used by all producers or traders whose products originate from that place and which share typical characteristics.

 

Protections

 

International Legal Framework: Singapore is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization and WTO. Singapore is also a signatory to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, and the Madrid Protocol concerning the International Registration of Marks.

 

National Legal Framework: The Geographical Indications Act (Cap. 117B) (“GI Act”) governs GIs in Singapore and came into force on 15 January 1999.

 

Under Section 2 of the GI Act, a GI means any indication used in trade to identify goods as originating from a place, provided that —

 

  • “(a) the place is a qualifying country or a region or locality in the qualifying country; and
  •  (b) a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the goods is essentially attributable to that place”

 

The GI Act does not provide for registration of GIs. In Singapore, the law protects only the GIs of a country which is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, or a country designated by the Singapore Government as a qualifying country.

 

The GI Act provides that an interested party may bring a civil action for false use of a GI by an unauthorised party where, for example:-

  • the goods did not originate in the place indicated in a manner which misleads the public as to the geographical origin of the goods.
  • use of the GI is unfair or dishonest, for example, because it falsely alleges, misleads or confuses the public as to the origin or nature of the product, its manufacturing process, or suitability for purpose or quality; or
  • the GI which is used identifies a wine or spirit does not originate from the place as indicated by the GI. The law provides special protection for wines or spirits; a wine or spirit which does not originate from the place indicated by the GI is never allowed, even if the user were to indicate the actual origin of the wine or spirit.

 

 

Domain Name

 

Protection

 

Domain names ending with “.sg” are registered with the Singapore Network Information Centre Pte Ltd (SGNIC). Foreign entities who wish to register “.sg” domain names must appoint a local party as its representative. We assist our clients in registering “.sg” domain names and also act as the local representative for foreign clients.

 

Before registering your domain name, you should conduct a check to see if your domain name is available. This can be done through

 

There are currently 7 types of “.sg” domain names.

  • com.sg
  • net.sg
  • org.sg
  • edu.sg
  • per.sg
  • .sg

 

Criteria for registration

 

When registering your domain name, you should be mindful of the following:-

  • You must be eligible to register the domain. For example, only educational institutions registered with MOE can apply for “edu.sg” domains;
  • Your domain name must not infringe any trademarks in Singapore;
  • Your domain name must not contain any words which suggest a link to the Government in Singapore;
  • Your domain name must not contain any words or references which are obscene, scandalous, indecent or contrary to law or morality;
  • Your domain name must not contain any geographical names or names of countries.

 

If a domain name is registered which is identical or similar to a trademark, it may be possible to reclaim or cancel the domain name through a filing a claim under the Singapore Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (SDRP) if a “.sg” domain name is involved, or the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) if any other domain name is involved.

 

Business Names

 

Protection

 

On starting a business, you may wish to register your business or corporate names at the Registry of Companies and Businesses. Such a registration has the effect of preventing others from registering identical or similar businesses or corporate names with the Registry. In appropriate cases, the owner of a well-known trademark may apply to the Registry to change the name of a company or business using the said mark.

 

Before registering your business name, you may wish to check on the availability of your business name. You should ensure that your business name is not identical or similar to another entity on the Register, or infringe any trademarks in Singapore. You can check the availability of business names by searching ACRA’s online directory of businesses on BizFile.