Protection of Geographical Indications in India is governed by the legislation namely The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999, which seeks to provide for registration and better protection of geographical indications relating to goods in India. This Act also provides for setting up a Geographical Indications Registry for the purposes of registration of GIs in India.
The Geographical Indications Act affords protection to goods that can be identified as originating or manufactured in the territory of a country or a region or locality in that territory where a given quantity, reputation or other characteristic of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical conditions. In the case where such goods are manufactured goods, one of the activities of production or of processing or preparation at goods concerned takes place in such territory or locality as the case may be. The term is initially for a period of 10 years and can be renewed from time to time.
Until recently India did not have a specific law governing geographical indications of goods, which could adequately protect the interests of producers of such goods, unless a geographical indication is protected in the country of its origin, there is no obligation under the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for other countries to extend reciprocal protection. In view of this, it was considered necessary to have a comprehensive legislation for registration and for providing adequate protection for geographical indications. The pertinent has passed legislation, namely, the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. The legislation will be administered through the Geographical Indications Registry under the overall charge of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks.
Geographical Indication Rights have already been obtained for ‘Darjeetdng Tea’, ‘Paithani Sarees’, Kota Doria.
A Geographical Indications Registry has been established in Chennai for the purpose of administering the legislation.
Appeal against Registrar’s decision would be to the Intellectual Property Appellate Board established under the Trade Marks legislation.
On receipt of the application, a number will be allotted. Thereafter, the application would be examined to check whether it meets the requirements of the Act and Rules. For this purpose the Registrar shall ordinarily constitute a Consultative Group of experts to ascertain the correctness of the particulars furnished. After issuance of the Examination Report, submissions of the applicant would be considered. If no further objection is raised, the application would be accepted and would be advertised in the Geographical Indications Journal. An opposition can be lodged within a maximum of four month from the date of publication. If the opposition is dismissed, the application will proceed to registration in Part A of the Register unless the Central Government otherwise directs.
Geographical Indications (GIs) can be best explained by referring to some of the world famous GIs (Indian examples) like the Basmati Rice, Kanchipuram Silk, Darjeeling Tea, Alphanso Mango, Nagpur Orange, Kolhapuri Chappal and Bikaneri Bhujia. The well-known GIs include the Scotch Whiskey, Chinese Silk and the Venetian Glass. IDAHO for potatoes, WASHINGTON STATE for apples and FLORIDA for oranges are some of the Geographical Indications of the United States.
A Geographical Indication is an indication that is used to identify agricultural, natural or manufactured goods originating from a definite geographical territory having a special quality or reputation or other characteristics. The manufactured goods should be produced or processed or prepared in that territory. Geographical Indications encompasses what is known as Appellation of Origin. An Appellation of Origin is a special kind of Geographical Indication used on products that have a specific quality that is exclusively or essentially due to the geographical environment in which the products are produced.
What is a Geographical Indication?
- It is an indication
- It originates from a definite geographical territory.
- It is used to identify agricultural, natural or manufactured goods
- The manufactured goods should be produced or processed or prepared in that territory.
- It should have a special quality or reputation or other characteristics
How a geographical indication is 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 geographical indication is an indication used to identify goods having special characteristics originating from a definite geographical territory.
Any person can oppose the registration of geographical indication by giving a notice in writing of opposition to the registrar within a period of three months from the date of advertisement of the application in the Journal.
Examples of famous Geographical Indications. (Basmati Rice, Darjeeling Tea)
- Kanchipuram Silk Saree
- Alphanso Mango
- Nagpur Orange
- Kolhapuri Chappal
- Bikaneri Bhujia
- Agra Petha
Who is may apply apply?
Any association of persons, producers, organization or authority established by or under the law can apply for registration of GIs. The applicant must represent the interest of the producers. Producers are persons dealing with the following three categories of goods:
- Agricultural Goods includes the production, processing, trading or dealing;
- Natural Goods includes exploiting, trading or dealing; and
- Handicrafts or Industrial goods include making, manufacturing, trading or dealing
How to register:
- An application for registration of a GI for a specification of goods included in any one class; or
- An application to register a GI for a specification of goods included in any class from a convention country;or
- A single application for the registration of a GI for different classes of goods from a convention country;or
- A single application for the registration of a geographical indication for different classes of goods
- Shall be made in Form GI-1.
An application for registration of a geographical indication must be made in Form G1-1, if the Applicant is an Indian. Form G1-2 would apply for a convention application. An application for goods falling in different classes by an Indian applicant must be filed in Form G1-3 and a Convention Application with goods falling in different classes must be filed in Form G1-4.
What is the benefit of registration of geographical indications?
- It confers legal protection to Geographical Indications in India
- Prevents unauthorised use of a Registered Geographical Indication by others
- It provides legal protection to Indian Geographical Indications which in turn boost exports.
- It promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods produced in a geographical territory.
Who can apply for the registration of a geographical indication?
- Any association of persons, producers, organisation or authority established by or under the law can apply:
- The applicant must represent the interest of the producers
- The application should be in writing in the prescribed form
- The application should be addressed to the Registrar of Geographical Indications alongwith prescribed fee.
Who is a registered proprietor of a geographical indication?
- 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.
Who is an authorized user?
- A producer of goods can apply for registration as an authorised user
- It must be in respect of a registered geographical indication
- He should apply in writing in the prescribed form alongwith prescribed fee
Who is a producer in relation to a Geographical Indication?
- The persons dealing with three categories of goods are covered under the term Producer:
- Agricultural Goods includes the production, processing, trading or dealing
- Natural Goods includes exploiting, trading or dealing
- Handicrafts or an Industrial goods includes making, manufacturing, trading or dealing.
- Is a registration of a geographical indication compulsory and how does it help the applicant? Registration is not compulsory
- Registration affords better legal protection to facilitate an action for infringement
- The registered proprietor and authorised users can initiate infringement actions
- The authorized users can exercise the exclusive right to use the geographical indication.
Who can use the registered geographical indication?
An authorized user has the exclusive rights to the use of geographical indication in relation to goods in respect of which it is registered.
How long the registration of Geographical Indication is valid?
The registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years
Can a Geographical Indication be renewed?
It can be renewed from time to time for further period of 10 years each.
What is the effect if a Geographical Indication if it is not renewed?
If a registered geographical indication is not renewed it is liable to be removed from the register.
When is a registered Geographical Indication said to be infringed?
- When an unauthorized user uses a geographical indication 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 geographical indication result in an unfair competition including passing off in respect of registered geographical indication.
- When the use of another geographical indication results in false representation to the public that goods originate in a territory in respect of which a registered geographical indication relates.
Can a registered geographical indication be assigned, transmitted, etc?
- No. A geographical indication is a public property belonging to the producers of the concerned goods.
- It shall not be the subject matter of assignment, transmission, licensing, pledge, mortgage or such other agreement
- However, when an authorised user dies, his right devolves on his successor in title.
Can a registered geographical indication or a registered authorised user be removed from the register?
Yes. The Appellate Board or the Registrar of Geographical Indications has the power to remove the geographical indication or an authorised user from the register. Further, on application by an aggrieved person action can be taken.
Who can initiate an infringement action?
The registered proprietor or authorized users of a registered geographical indication can initiate an infringement action.
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