Paula Zito

Dr Paula Zito

Associate Teacher in Law

Adelaide Law School

Faculty of the Professions


PhD conferred February 2018

Adelaide Law School, Faculty of the Professions

Researcher in Geographical Indications (Intellectual Property Law), the connection between food and origin and regional branding (food labelling) of food products

3MT Finalist (2016)

Associate Teacher, Faculty of Professions at Adelaide Law School in Intellectual Property Law, Contract Law, Commercial Transactions, Foundations of Law and Equity

Legal Practitioner (Commercial and Intellectual Property)

Regional Branding of food products

Barossa Fine Foods LabelBarossa Almonds logo

Many food producers and traders use Australian regional names on food products (Regional Branding) to respond to current consumer preferences for 'local' and 'authentic' foods. There is value in Regional Branding, because it not only indicates the food product's geographical origin, but also infuses food products with certain qualities and characteristics that can be tied back to the region named in the Regional Branding. Many consumers assume that food products that include Regional Branding will have certain qualities and characteristics, such as that the food product is made using locally sourced ingredients and that it is made within the region. They might even expect that the food product has been made using local processes, methods and traditions unique to that region. Consumers respond positively to food products that are branded with Barossa or Barossa Valley, because they are aware of the reputation that the Barossa has for producing quality food products. However, in many circumstances, food products that are branded with Barossa or Barossa Valley have a very weak connection with the Barossa or no connection at all. Notwithstanding this lack of connection, many food producers take advantage of the reputation that the region has for producing quality and authentic regional food products, and the value that accordingly exists in the region's name, to respond to consumer preferences for local and authentic food products.  

Current Australian laws and regulations regulating the usage of Regional Branding on food labels

The current patchwork of Australian laws and regulations regulating the usage of Regional Branding on food labels falls into the following main groups:

  • consumer protection laws under the Australian Consumer Law that is set out in Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)
  • passing off and extended passing off
  • trade mark laws under the Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth).

These laws and regulations have various deficiencies that mean food producers can use Regional Branding on food labels to make origin claims on food products that lack any clear or strong connection with the region claimed. In doing so, many food producers and traders take advantage of, and free-ride on, the reputation that Australian regions have for producing quality regional food and the value that accordingly exists in the relevant Australian regional names.

Geographical Indications

My research explores the worth of using food Geographical Indications (GIs) on food products to make an origin claim in the context of a sui generis food GI system. A sui generis food GI system is a legal framework dedicated to regulating that a connection between food product and place exists before Regional Branding (in the form of a food GI) can be used on a food label. In my research I assess the value of using a sui generis food GI system to protect the connection between Australian regional food and origin and to protect the assets that Australia has in Australian regional names as identifiers of authentic regional food products that have a clear and strong connection with Australian regions. I make this assessment against a background of significant and original fieldwork carried out in Italy and South Australia.

Recommendations

I recommend in my research that a sui generis food GI system is crucial for Australia to ensure adequate regulation and protection of the connection between Australian regional food and origin nationally and internationally. By drawing on the observations that I made during the Italian and South Australian fieldwork, I recommend and explain the key elements that are required for  a successful Australian sui generis food GI system. I explain these with a view to assisting Australian government and Australian regional food producers and the broader Australian food, agrifood and agricultural industries, to design a sui generis food GI system that takes into consideration GI-related issues relevant to Australia at both a national and international level.

Three Minute Thesis Competition

In 2016, I represented the Faculty of the Professions in the 3MT Competition and was one of the ten finalists. You can see a three minute presentation of my research here: 

 

 

 

 

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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2018 Doctor of Philosophy University of Adelaide
    2012 Associate Teacher University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2002 - 2009 Senior Associate Phillips Fox
    1999 - 2002 Associate Minter Ellison Lawyers
    1997 - 1999 Solicitor Donaldson Walsh Lawyers
  • Language Competencies

    Language Competency
    Italian Can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review
    Spanish - Latin American Can read, write, speak and understand spoken
    Spanish; Castilian Can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2013 - 2018 University of Adelaide, Adelaide Australia Doctor of Philosophy
    1998 - 1999 University of South Australia, Adelaide Australia Practical Legal Training
    1998 - 1998 University of South Australa Australia Graduate Certificate in Legal Practice
    1994 - 1997 University of Adelaide, Adelaide Australia Honours Degree of Bachelor of Laws
    1993 - 1995 University of Adelaide, Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Arts
  • Certifications

    Date Title Institution name Country
    1998 Admission as Solicitor and Barrister of the Suprem Supreme Court of South Australia Australia
    1998 Admission as Solicitor and Barrister of the High C High Court of Australia Australia
  • Research Interests

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  • Theses

    Year Citation
    2018 Zito, P. C. (2018). Geographical Indications: What is Their Worth? A Comparison of Geographical Indication Registrations Between Australia and Italy. (PhD Thesis, The University of Adelaide).

Intellectual Property 

Contract Law 

Commercial Transactions

Foundations of Law

Equity

International Law

Tort Law 

  • Position: Associate Teacher in Law
  • Email: paula.zito@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Ligertwood, floor 4
  • Room: 4 13
  • Org Unit: Faculty of The Professions

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