Geographical Indication (GI) Status

Recently, Geographical Indication (GI) status has been allowed to Kadaknath Chicken of Madhya Pradesh; earlier Chengalikodan banana variety from Thrissur district or Kerala. This banana is famous for its distinct taste, bunch shape and fruit colour. The nature fruits are pale yellow that, on ripening, change into golden yellow with red patches. The crop is principally cultivated in organic mode and the crop duration is 13-14 months and is chiefly grown in Thrissur district of Kerala.

What is a Geographical Indication (GI)

A GI is a sign that is used on products that have a distinct geographical origin due to which these products acquire such reputations. In order to being categorized as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a particular place.

Since the qualities, characteristics, or reputation depend on the geographical place of production, there is an unambiguous link between the product and its original place of production. GI is also a type of Industrial Property Rights (IPR).

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Origin and Legal Framework of GI

The origin of GI can be tracked to various International agreements. Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property cover geographical indications as an element of IPR. They are also shielded under Articles 22 and 24 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement TRIPS was the part of the Agreement finalizing the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.

India, as a member of World Trade Organization (WTO), introduced the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. This GI Act was enacted in 2003 that finally came into force with effect from 15th September 2003.

GI, functioning as a signaling tool, helps producers in differentiating their products from competing products in the market. It helps producers in building a reputation and goodwill around their products which generally fetch a premium price.

The Geographical Indications Act 2003 is administered by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and trademarks. This Controller General is also the Registrar of Geographical Indications. The Geographical Indications Registry is situated in Chennai.

Types of Products seeking GI

Geographical Indications are solely used for industrial products, agricultural products, handicrafts, foodstuffs, and wine spirit drinks.

Rights provided by GI

A Geographical Indications Right empowers those who use the ‘indication’ to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not conform to the applicable norms.

However, a shielded geographical indication does not mean that the holder of the GI can prevent someone from making a product using the same techniques as those framed in the standards for the indication.

Validity Period of GI

The Registration for Geographical Indications is not bonded to a specific period of validity. In fact, the protection for a Registered Geographical Indication remains valid till the registration is cancelled.

GI registered as collective and certification marks, are usually protected for a renewable ten-year periods.

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Who can use GI?

Producers, of the Geographical defined area, who meet the specific conditions of production for the product, have the right to use the Geographical Indication.

Difference between GI and Trademark

While GIs recognize a good as originating from a particular place, the trademark identifies it a good or service as originating from a particular company. The name that is used as a geographical indication is generally predetermined by the name of the GI area while, in the case of trademark , it usually uses a recognizable sign, design, or expression.

Any person, who produces the goods according to specified and standards, can use GI; while trademark is assigned to anyone, anywhere in the world, because it is related to a specific company and not to a particular place.

Some recent GI tags awarded to:

Bangalore Rose Onion grows in Bangalore and its surrounding areas. It is famous for its high demand compared to other varieties.

Kaipad Rice that is cultivated in the blackish water tracts of northern parts of the Kerala.

Dahrmavaran Saris comes from Dharmavaran, a cluster of weavers in Anantpur, Andhra Pradesh. The Saris have broad solid colour borders with contrast pallus woven with brocaded gold patterns.

The first agricultural product in India to be accorded with GI tag is Darjeeling Tea. There are about 200 unique products registered as GIs in India.

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