- Geographical Indications (GI) are a type of Intellectual Property (IP) that is used on products to indicate their origin from a particular geographical location, be it a country or a specific place located in a country.
- They can also be place names like ‘Champagne’, ‘Roquefort’ or ‘Tequila’. Qualities, characteristics and reputation of such products are attributed to their origin.
- A sign on the product functions as a GI, distinguishing it from other products which do not possess the standard requirements desired for them to be able to use the sign as a GI. An unambiguous link should exist between the product and its place of origin.
- GIs are typically used for food and agricultural products, wines, spirits, handicrafts and the like. A GI tag is collectively used by authorized users for their products after it is ensured that they conform to the prescribed standards, giving the products a quality approval and a peculiarity.
- Starting from Darjeeling Tea in 2004-05, India has registered 344 GI tagged products until 17th June, 2019.
- India, being a member of WTO, had to implement the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 in order to be TRIPS compliant. The Act came into effect from 15th September, 2003. An association of persons or producers can apply for registration of GIs for certain products with the prescribed documents under the Act. The Act promotes Indian GI holders by providing a niche to them in the export market.
- The Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trademarks (CGPDT) is charged with the responsibility of smooth functioning of GI Registry and is the Registrar of GIs. Any complaints against the registration granted by Registrar are directed towards the IPAB (Intellectual Property Appellate Board), Chennai.
- Duration of registration is 10 years and it can be renewed further. Even if GI is not registered under the Act, common law remedy of passing off can be sought as legal relief.
Process of filing an Application for GI Registration in India
Each application is to be made in the prescribed form, i.e., GI-1A to ID, along with the prescribed fees, i.e., Rs. 5,000. The fees is to be paid in the manner prescribed under the Act.
The application has to be signed by the applicant or the agent and has to be made in triplicate including the Statement of Case. Detailed specifications with regard to signing and sizing of documents need to be followed.
Applicants need to mention the principal place of business in India or an address for service in India (in case of foreign applicants). The content of the application includes geographical map of the territory, a statement elucidating a link between the goods and the place of origin enlisting the characteristics of the product, a reference to all the producers on behalf of whom the application is made inter alia other documents.
A GI also makes sure that the product is prevented from unwarranted, commercial exploitation from other people through trademarks or other IPs. Developing countries are investing more in GIs now, to protect their traditional knowledge and culture from predatory IP practices of developed countries.
The article has been written by Jaya Mitra.