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Special Content

Issue no 26, 24-30 September 2022

The Mark of Indian Excellence Geographical Indication

Organised by Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) with the support of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and Ministry of Textiles, the India GI Fair 2022 was held from August 26-28, 2022.

India Gl Fair is the first and only trade platform of its kind to source inimitable products from across India under one roof. This fair was aimed to broaden the people's horizons with unique products as well as crafts where they could see, and at the same time source India's best nurtured treasures, traditions and rarities. This expo brought together exhibitors of distinctive products with an ambition to take these Indian masterpieces to the connoisseurs and clientele of the world market.

Gl products of India are sought after for their unique characteristics appealing to any or all senses. From edibles and savouries to wearables, giftables, and collectibles, the produce/product variety is diverse, known for their rare natural properties, peculiarities, age-old processes or tradition. Just as modern production techniques measure up to feed the volume demand, there is an urge in the discerning consumer to seek rare, authentic and original products which have inimitable history and tradition linked to them, that is, the GI-tagged products.

What is a GI?

A Geographical Indication (GI) is a sign/tag used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. The GI-tagged products are "Invaluable treasures of Incredible India".

As of date, there are 390+ Geographical Indications of India of which 200+ are Handicraft & Handloom products. Darjeeling Tea was the first Indian product to get the GI tag.

The aim is to build confidence amongst the buying community. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production.

In order to function as a GI, a sign/tag must identify a product as originating from such specific recognized place/ region. Protection for a geographical indication is usually obtained by acquiring a right over the sign that constitutes the indication and does not enable the holder to prevent someone from making a product using the same techniques as those set out in the standards for that indication. India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999, that came into force with effect from 15th September, 2003.

What rights does a GI provide?

Rural artisans in various regions of India possess unique skill sets, one that is passed down from generation to generation and hence bears generational legacy. The GI in India are thus tightly interwoven into the rural milieu. Registration of Geographical Indications encourages these communities and ensures protection of their Intellectual Property (IP) rights.

The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (the Act) provides for registration of Handicrafts (& Handlooms) as Geographical Indications (GI). Handicraft (& Handlooms) is covered under Section 2(f) of the Act which states that "goods" means any agricultural, natural or manufactured goods or any goods of handicraft (& Handlooms) or of industry and includes food stuff. Handicraft artisans & weavers can be registered as Authorized Users for the registered Geographical Indications as provided under Section 7(3) read with Section 17 of the Act. The Act provides that any person claiming to be the producer of the goods in respect of which a Geographical Indication has been registered under Section 6 may apply in writing to the Registrar in the prescribed manner for registering him as an authorized user of such Geographical Indication.

A geographical indication right enables those who have the right to use the indication to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not conform to the applicable standards. For example, in the jurisdictions in which the Darjeeling Geographical Indication is protected, producers of Darjeeling tea can exclude use of the term "Darjeeling" for tea not grown in their tea gardens or not produced according to the standards set out in the code of practice for the geographical indication. However, a protected Geographical Indication does not enable the holder to prevent someone from making a product using the same techniques as those set out in the standards for that indication. Protection for a Geographical Indication is usually obtained by acquiring a right over the sign that constitutes the indication.

Who can apply for the registration of a GI?

Any association of persons, producers, organisation or authority established by or under the law can apply.

Who is a registered proprietor of a GI?

Any association of persons, producers, organisation or authority established by or under the law can be a registered proprietor. Their name should be entered in the Register of Geographical Indication as registered proprietor for the Geographical Indication applied for.

How long the registration of GI is valid?

The registration of a GI is valid for a period of 10 years. It can be renewed from time to time for further period of 10 years each. If a registered GI is not renewed, it is liable to be removed from the register.

When is a registered GI said to be infringed? 

·         When an unauthorised user uses a GI that indicates or suggests that such goods originate in a geographical area other than the true place of origin of such goods in a manner which mislead the public as to the geographical origin of such goods. 

·         When the use of GI result in an unfair competition including passing off in respect of registered Geographical Indication. 

·         When the use of another GI results in false representation to the public that goods originate in a territory in respect of which a registered Geographical Indication relates.

How is a GI different from a trade mark?

A trade mark is a sign which is used in the course of trade and it distinguishes goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Whereas, a GI is an indication used to identify goods having special characteristics originating from a definite geographical territory.

To know more about the GI-tagged products of India, scan the QR code.

Compiled by: Annesha Banerjee & Anuja Bhardwajan

Source: gifairindia.in/Vikaspedia/ Mann ki Baat Booklet May 2022