Collective trademarks and biocultural heritage: towards new indications of distinction for indigenous peoples in the Potato Park, Peru
Alejandro Argumedo
IIED, March 2013 | ISBN 978-1-84369-907-1

This paper presents the experience of the Potato Park communities in Cusco, Peru, in applying for formal protection through a collective trademark, and also in adopting an informal trademark for their products and services. The process of registering the collective trademark brought to light the incompatibility of the registration requirements with Peruvian law on indigenous governance, and the application was unsuccessful. The Potato Park communities have instead opted to use their trademark informally, and it is now widely recognised as a distinctive symbol of the Park. A survey found that as well as raising prices and increasing sales, the mark has helped to ensure social cohesion. However, while the trademark is informal, it lacks protection. Furthermore, experience shows that existing intellectual property tools tend to be unsuitable for protecting communities’ collective intellectual property, and even “soft” intellectual property tools such as collective trademarks and geographical indications can be beyond the legal and financial capacity of remote rural communities. The report concludes with a proposal for an alternative indigenous “biocultural heritage indication” which could draw on geographical indications, design rights and unfair competition law. Such a tool could open up the current IPR system to rural communities, alleviating poverty while protecting traditional knowledge, and strengthening biological and cultural diversity. Download the report [pdf] …