Geographical Indications (GI’s) are one of the fascinating IPR’s that have gained significance over the years. Quite different from the rest of IPR’s and quite interesting and capturing the imagination of many as it involves mostly with traditional knowledge and commodities that are etched with the memories of people for many centuries or decades originating from a particular region / territory, due to its highly specialized locally influencing factors. Unlike other IPR’s which are owned by an Individual, or Corporate entity GI’s are owned by a group of producers under the canopy of a Society or Association or even an entity which is registered as Not for Profit company. But, it must be borne in mind that the applicant for GI must have sworn by their memorandum and laws that their very raison’d’ etre is to work for the betterment of the people whose lives are linked with the traditional product originating from a particular Geographical origin for which the GI application is made for.
GI means an Indication that identifies goods basis categories such as: agricultural, natural or manufactured, produced in a territory, region, locality, maintaining a certain quality, reputation or characteristics essentially attributable to Geographical origin. This is usually done by assigning a name or a sign that on the product that corresponds to the specific Geographical location. For example, Darjeeling Tea, Lucknow Chicken Craft, Kinnauri Shawl, Blue Pottery of Jaipur and so on. In many countries, legal protections similar to Trademarks are accorded to Geographical Indications. Sometimes these laws also advocate that the product meets certain quality standards.
REGISTRABLE GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS
Any type of product, ranging from Fabric materials like sarees, dhotis which are primarily hand woven, or Agricultural products like rice, wheat, pulses, spices, etc. or plantation products like tea, coffee or horticultural produce like fruits, dry fruits etc., or Meat and allied products (natural or processed) dairy products and derivatives, Industrial products and implements like knives, scissors etc., Leather goods and accessories and the lists extends on. It must be clearly remembered that the place and product must have a strong linkage to be established for claiming the status of a Geographical Indication.
Any association of persons or of producers, desirous of registering such goods or produce originating from a locality, which thitherto had not been registered in that time frame, filling a requisite form and applying to the authority accompanied with the fee would result in a new Registrable Geographical Indication.
NON-REGISTRABLE GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS
Any product that is likely to cause confusion in the minds of people or likely to affect the religious sentiments of the people and contrary to the law like narcotics etc., contravening Indian Laws are kept out of the purview of Geographical Indications Act.
There are certain products that are not registrable under Geographical Indications. These are usually products that can create confusion or would be contrary to any law for the time being in force and might contain matter of scandalous or obscene nature. Products that are likely to hurt the religious sentiments of the masses or are disentitled to protection under law are also not registerable. Generic names or Indication of goods or goods that have not originated in that particular territory can also not be registered.
REQUIREMENT FOR GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION IN INDIA
Since, India is a treasure-trove of unique ethnic products and art-forms, the Parliament of India enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act in 1999, to comply with the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of the Intellectual Property Rights. This tag ensures that no one is allowed to use the popular product name other than the one registered as authorized users (or at least those residing inside the geographic territory).
Basic requirements may be a Statement of case, describing the Nature of the Goods, classification, Description of the product, its manufacture, linkage with the region of its making, specific parameters contributing to the speciality of the product, typically existing in the region of its manufacture, A clear map certified by the competent authority, evidences which prove the linkage of the product to that of the region etc., are essentially required for preparation of the application. Of course, specific case wise requirements may be required depending upon the individual product.
TYPES OF GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION
There are three types of Geographical Indication. Namely:
- Agricultural goods that have been produced, processed, or traded
- Natural goods that have been exploited and traded;
- Handicrafts or Industrial goods that have been manufactured and traded.
As such there is an arrangement for bringing harmonization for Geographical Indication products in global level which is the Lisbon arrangement. But, India is not a member of this protocol as on date. However the Convention system of filing is encouragement from Indian point of view. As it can be inferred that in Europe from where the Concept of registering of traditional products as Geographical Indications evolved, they are known as ‘Appellates of Origin’ (AOCs) in that, there are sub classifications of PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) and TSG (Traditional Specialities Guaranteed, which are variants in the system of registration. It can be noted that ‘Darjeeling Tea’ as of now, subsequent to its registration in India as a GI, has been successfully registered as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in European Union. Likewise, it is the earnest endeavour of many that Indian traditional products find their way as successful GI’s in many countries abroad, thereby bringing larger fortunes to the communities of people involved in the making of traditional products, by means of enhanced avenues of marketing these products in more countries.
REGISTRATION PROCESS of GI
- Filing of Application
- Preliminary scrutiny and examination
- Show cause notice
- Publication in the geographical indications Journal
- Opposition to Registration
- Additional protection to notified goods