Domain of Origin


Domains of Origin is a fuzzy subject because nearly every country and jurisdiction set up their own regulations resulting in a proliferation of acronyms and meanings.

But the basic aim of all of them is to associate (and protect) the name of a product with the region of the world where it is traditionally made.

Examples are mustard (Dijon), olive oil (Montes de Granada), sparkling wine (Champagne), ham (Huelva), cheese (Roquefort), and spirits (Cognac, Calvados, Armagnac).

A domain of origin (DO) aims to establish

  • allowed ingredients
  • allowed production of ingredients
  • preparation and process of making
  • quality levels
  • associating the traditional region with the name of the product

A protected or controlled domain of origin (DOC) adds matters of law to make sure the DO is upheld

  • nationally enforces the characteristics of the DO above
  • places the intellectual property (IP) of the DO into the world IP organization (WIPO)
  • seeks bilateral treaties where one nation agrees to respect the DO of the other nation

A geographical indication (GI) further defines the region, documenting which precise plots of land are part of the domain and which are not. The added layer of specifications ensures that the product will only be made in certain geographical locations, not just anywhere. All qualities of the DO, ingredients, preparation, making, packaging, must occur within the landmark boundaries and no where else. Many traditional domains do not have GI's defined. Most new DO's are accompanied by GI definitions, this is true of wine regions in the US that apply to the TTB for domain status.


Nations wishing to establish international rights to a DO often deposit a copy of their regulations under the Madrid convention in the World Intellectual Property Organization database in Lisbon. Placing such documents there is evidence of a claim but not a right. The WIPO does not enforce. Other countries are allowed to file objections if they do not agree with a claim. Some DO's on file have a series of counter-claims or objections filed against them. It's like two settlers with stakes in the same ground but neither one has a deed. In such cases it is hard to argue that a DO exists.

Status of Singani

In 1992 the Bolivian government passed Law 1334 establishing Singani both as a protected and controlled Denomination of Origin and a Geographical Indication.  This was deposited at WIPO along with statements that Bolivia will enforce the status of Singani nationally and internationally.  As Singani has only been produced on what is now Bolivian soil and no where else, the WIPO filing for Singani stands uncontested.  In 1999 the position of Singani was enhanced by Decree 25569 that established altitude requirements of 1,600 meters or 5,250 feet. [more...]