A provision of intellectual property that came into effect in 2003, the Geographical Indication is a designation attached to a product originating from a specific geographical location or region, possessing qualities distinctive to its place of origin. The provision was the chief component of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, and administered by the office of the Geographical Indication Registry in Chennai, Tamilnadu. It applies to manufactured goods, as well as natural and agricultural items, which after approval and registration are assigned a Geographical Indications (GI) tag. The tag protects these designated goods from imitation and ensures that their quality and their distinctive features are maintained.
India, a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1995, instituted the act in accordance with the Paris Convention of 1883, which applied intellectual property to industrial products. It was also drafted in compliance with the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), negotiated between 1985 and 1994.
For a product to be considered for GI status, it must fulfill certain criteria. In the case of a handmade or textile product, it should have its origin at a particular place and a reputation for being unique to the region or the craftpersons involved in its production. An application for a GI tag can be submitted by an association of persons, producers, organisations or any authority that has been established by law. The application should contain a list of the special characteristics of the product for which registration is being sought under the Act, as well as certified copies of maps of the geographical area. Once the application is submitted, it is published in the Geographical Indications Journal for all to review, in case any party wishes to raise an objection to the application. Once the application is accepted, the registrar appoints the GI tag and adds the information in a register that is maintained by the Ministry of Commerce and Trade.
A GI tag is valid for a period of ten years, after which, if not renewed, it will lapse. The tag prohibits the use of the registered name for goods either originating in or produced by a party outside the geographical area specified in the registry. The first product that received a GI tag in India was Darjeeling tea, and the first textile item to be similarly recognised was the Pochampally ikat from Telangana, both in 2005. Other items which have been recognised as and protected by geographical indications are Chanderi saree, Solapur chaddar and Solapur terry towel, Mysore silk, Kanchipuram silk, Madurai class=”font-italic”>sungudi, kasuti embroidery, Kashmir Pashmina, Lucknow chikankari, muga silk, Chakhesang shawl and Mizo puanchei shawl, to name a few.
The Geographical Indications of Goods Rules, 2002, under the Act (1999), was amended in 2020. The new Rules included provisions regarding application by and regulation of “authorised users” (producers, manufacturers or distributors of goods having a GI) and for the simplification of the application process and reduction in application fees, to encourage and increase applications.
Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trademarks. “FAQ.” Accessed August 11, 2021.
Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trademarks. “Welcome to Geographical Overview.” Accessed August 11, 2021.
Shairwal, Sakshi, and Sanjampreet Singh. “Understanding Geographical indications of good (reg And Protection) (amendment) rules, 2020.” Lexology. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=252e1fd7-f1b7-437f-80a5-fab8434e74cb
Tomar, Dikshant. “India: The Geographical Indications of Goods (Regulation and Protection) (Amendment) Rules, 2020.” Mondaq, February 25, 2021. https://www.mondaq.com/india/trademark/1040390/the-geographical-indications-of-goods-registration-and-protection-amendment-rules-2020.
WIPO. “Geographical Indications.” Accessed August 11, 2021. https://www.wipo.int/geo_indications/en/
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World Trade Organization. “Intellectual property: protection and enforcement.” Understanding the WTO: The Agreements. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/agrm7_e.htm