Application for recognition of 'Dominican rum' as denomination of origin under review

Dominican Republic

The National Office of Industrial Property of the Dominican Republic (ONAPI) is reviewing a formal request for the recognition of 'Dominican rum' as a denomination of origin. The request covers rum made following the traditional process whereby rum is fermented, distilled and aged in oak barrels in the Dominican territory for a minimum of 12 months.

The Trademark Department of ONAPI is consulting national entities, as well as international institutions, in order to perform an adequate analysis of the request.

Recognition by the national authorities is the first step before further evaluation and recognition in other parts of the world. This national phase is thus essential for the purpose of obtaining the recognition of a denomination of origin internationally. The aim of a denomination of origin is to safeguard the distinctive characteristics of goods produced in a given region against those seeking to profit from the reputation created over time by the original producers.

Currently, two million cases of Dominican rum, worth US$100 million, are exported to 50 different markets worldwide. This year, a moderate growth of 3% is expected. Spain is one of the main markets for rum produced in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Association of Rum Producers (ADOPRON) has explained in the past months that, due to traditional practices and the quality of authentic Dominican rum, the latter has become increasingly popular among the most demanding consumers, "becoming one of our exportable goods with the highest added value". ADOPRON fears that the lack of protection for Dominican rum could lead to unfair competition and constitute a latent threat to the 'Dominican rum' brand. ADOPRON thus stressed the urgency of this initiative, due to the marketing in national and international markets of beverages which claim to be Dominican rum, but do not meet the traditional requirements of production and quality.

ADOPRON further argued that the failure to recognise Dominican rum as a geographical indication has led to the marketing of beverages that do not meet the required standards, and has threatened the reputation achieved by the national rum industry in many countries worldwide.

The efforts of ADOPRON are supported by the West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers' Association Inc (WIRSPA), an organisation that brings together national associations of rum producers from 15 Caribbean countries. WIRSPA stated that Dominican rum "is internationally distinguished for its unique characteristics and quality, and is a priceless treasure that must be protected". WIRSPA, which was founded in the late 1960s and is based in Barbados, was originally set up to promote and protect the interests of members engaged in the distillation, export and marketing of rum. More recently, it has undertaken to develop the 'Caribbean rum' category in international drinks markets.

The collective trademark DOMINICAN RUM has been registered since 2007. It was the first collective trademark to be registered in the Dominican Republic.

Jaime R Angeles, Angeles & Lugo Lovatón, Dominican Republic

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