Local agricultural goods and foods are directly benefitted from the protection of geographical indications (GI). India has a diversified culture and is home to numerous arts and crafts that have been passed down through centuries. The diversity, status, and potential future of these regional resources in societies are all maintained by GIs. Local and traditional goods can help preserve biodiversity on many different scales, including domestic animal breeds, plant types, microbiological ecosystems, and landscapes. Given that common knowledge and practices support the protected resource, doing this is also a means to sustain them formally. (Bérard, L., & Marchenay, P., 2006).
Article 22-24 of the Trade Related Aspect of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS) provides the framework of GI, India being a member of WTO is obliged to follow the TRIPS Agreement and protect GI. Hence, the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. Notably, under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS), countries are under no obligation to extend protection to a particular geographical indication unless that geographical indication is protected in the country of its origin.
As per WIPO’s World Intellectual Property Indicators, 2022 China (9,052) had the most GIs on its territory in 2021, followed by Hungary (7,743), the Czech Republic (6,272), Slovakia (6112), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (6112) whereas India had 417 GI’s.
Recently, with the addition of 9 new items from various states, the total number of GI Tags in India comes to 432. Out of which, 401 are for products of Indian origin and 31 for products with foreign origin. The 9 products include Assamese Gamocha, Alibag White Onion of Maharashtra, Tandur Redgram of Telengana, Raktsey Karpo Apricot of Ladakh, Attappady Thuvara of Kerala, Kanthalloor Vattavada Garlic of Kerala and Onattukara Sesame of Kerala.
Of the 9 GI tags given, five were for products from Kerala. The top 5 states holding the maximum number of GIs are Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala.
Further, giving a boost to build up cross-cultural societies within the country, such activities will not only promote the transfer of diverse products amongst the states but will also contribute in building a better vibrant cultural society in the future.
Additionally, to support the development of multicultural societies across the nation to help create a more thriving cultural society in the future, DPIIT has launched a number of initiatives in conjunction with other stakeholders wherein GI products highlighted Indian tradition, and culture: GI Pavilion (Aahar 2022) at ITPO, New Delhi for five days (26th -30th April 2022), India GI fair (26th-28th Aug 2022) was organized at the India Expo Center and Mart, Greater Noida. A weekly GI Mahotsav was conducted (16th -21st October 2022) at the Trade Facilitation Center, Varanasi. An exclusive GI pavilion was set up at IITF 2022 which was organized by ITPO from 14th -27th November 2022 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Recently, the government approved the spending of Rs. 75 crore for three years for the promotion of GIs at awareness programmes.
What is Geographical Indication?
According to section 2(e) “geographical indication” in relation to goods is a name or sign used on products originating or manufactured in a particular geographical location that have a specific quality, reputation, or other characteristics which are essentially attributed to their particular geographical origin, a country, region, or locality influenced by factors such as climate, soil, etc.
Some examples include Darjeeling tea, Kanjeevaramu silk, Kolhapuri chappal, Kashmiri Saffron, Manipur black rice, Mithila Makhana etc. Mostly, GI consists of the name of the place of origin of the good. Ex- Agra Petha or Madhubani painting.
A GI is not only associated with the product and its specific location of origin, but also with its unique manufacturing methods and traditions of the local community. Section 2(f) defines “goods” as any agricultural, natural, or manufactured goods or any goods of handicraft or of the industry including foodstuff. In India GI is more predominant in respect of agricultural products than manufactured goods.
Who is Entitled to Registration?
As per Section 11, any association of persons or producers or any organisation or authority established by or under any law representing the interest of the producers of the concerned goods can apply for the registration of a geographical indication.
The Applicant has to be a legal entity and should be representing the interest of producers of the goods applied for. Any such organisation or association that is not that of the producers may have to prove that they represent the interest of producers. Any Applicant Authority also has to prove that they represent the interest of producers.
An application for registration of a geographical indication is to be made in writing, along with the prescribed fees (as specified under the First Schedule) and should be addressed to the Registrar of Geographical Indications. [Rule 12 &, 13]
Rights and advantages of GI registration
GI tag acts as a hallmark for the authenticity and quality of the product. Registration of GI products provides the exclusive right to access or use GI products for business, as it provides legal protection to the respective goods in domestic as well as international markets. Hence, increasing exports, and media coverage. Right to sue for infringements in order to prevent unauthorized use of registered GI. It promotes the economic prosperity of producers of goods produced in a geographical area. Right to license the use of registered GI to other parties via agreement.
Renewal of term
Section 18 of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (“the Act”) provides that the registration of a geographical indication (“GI”) and authorized user shall be for a period of 10 years. Both registrations may be renewed from time to time on payment of the renewal fee for a term of 10 years from the date of the last renewal of registration for an indefinite period. However, if renewal is not effected within the prescribed time, the GI or the authorized user, as the case may be, is liable to be removed from records. The Act has also made provision for the restoration of both registrations.
In October 2022, Hyderabadi Haleem received the ‘Most Popular GI’ award under the food category and agriculture category. It won the award in a competition against 17 food items.
1. Bérard, L., & Marchenay, P. (2006). Local products and geographical indications: taking account of local knowledge and biodiversity. International Social Science Journal, 58(187), 109-116
2. Nine products from across country get GI tag, Kerala tops table. (2022, December 14). The Hindu : Breaking News, India News, Sports News and Live Updates. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/nine-products-from-across-country-get-gi-tag-kerala-tops-table/article66264105.ece
3. 9 GI protected crafts from India that every souvenir hunter will love. (n.d.). https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/. https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/explore/story/70483/9-gi-tagged-indian-products-that-you-should-bring-back-from-your-next-trip
4. Singh, N. (n.d.). Centre awards nine GI tags to take total to 432, Kerala bags five. Business News, Finance News, India News, BSE/NSE News, Stock Markets News, Sensex NIFTY, Budget 2022. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/centre-awards-9-new-geographical-indications-tags-kerala-bags-5-122121401089_1.html
5. Total GI tagged items in India rise to 432: DPIIT. (2022, December 14). ANI News. https://www.aninews.in/news/business/total-gi-tagged-items-in-india-rise-to-432-dpiit20221214205811/
6. Goi grants GI tags to 9 new products, raising the total to 432; Kerala receives five. (2022, December 15). AffairsCloud for Competitive Exams. https://affairscloud.com/goi-grants-gi-tags-to-9-new-products-raising-the-total-to-432-kerala-receives-five/
7. Total number of registered geographical indications (GI) rise to 432. (n.d.). Press Information Bureau. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1883513
8. The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999