The World IP Indicators 2022, a snapshot of Plant Variety & Geographic Indication - Concluding Part

Ms. Shivani in this week's IP Wave talked about the latest WIPO release "World Intellectual Property Indicators, 2022" and look at the plant variety, and GI.

The World IP Indicators 2022, a snapshot of Plant Variety & Geographic Indication - Concluding Part

Innovation, technology and digitalisation have become very important driving forces for national and global growth. The world saw extreme disruptions triggered by the pandemic which proved to be a powerful accelerator of innovations that opened new technology frontiers. Recently, World Intellectual Property Organisations released a report “World Intellectual Property Indicators, 2022”, which reveals strong growth in intellectual property (IP) filings in 2021. Last week we looked at Patent, Trademark, and Design. This week we take a look at plant variety, and GI.

Snapshot of Plant Variety:

  • Around 25,340 plant variety applications were filed globally in 2021, up 12% from 2020 and marking the sixth consecutive year of increase. China made the greatest contribution to global growth, followed by the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
  • The total number of plant variety titles issued increased by +8.2% in 2021, more than reversing last year’s contraction.
  • The 15,090 plant variety titles awarded in 2021 are the most ever and 2.0% higher than the previous peak recorded in 2019. China issued the most titles, with 3,979, up +33.1% from the previous year. China was followed by the CPVO (2,853), the US (1,609), Ukraine (1,161) and the Netherlands (624).
source: WIPO 2022
  • Around 154,800 plant variety titles were in force at the end of 2021, up +4.5% in 2020. The CPVO (29,578), the US (28,210) and China (19,696) were the three offices with the highest number of active titles. Other offices maintaining at least 5,000 active titles included Ukraine (12,100), the Netherlands (9,460), Japan (8,090), the Russian Federation (6,418) and the Republic of Korea (5,999).
  • Filings in China increased for the eighth consecutive year, representing a +24.9% year-on-year rise driven nearly exclusively by resident filings. Receiving 11,195 plant variety applications.
    China accounts for over two-fifths of the plant varieties filed worldwide.
  • The European Union's Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) received 3,480 applications, accounting for 13.7% of all global submissions. The CPVO is followed by the United States (1,902), Ukraine (944), and the Netherlands (836).
  • Seven of the top 10 jurisdictions received more applications from residents than from non-residents. China’s resident share (94.1%) was the highest among the top 10 offices.
  • Asia is the leading region, accounting for 52.3% of all applications. Filings in Asia have more than doubled compared to 2011.
  • At the end of 2021, there were around 154,800 plant variety titles in force, representing a +4.5% increase over the previous year. The CPVO (29,578), the United States (28,210), and China (19,696) had the most active titles.
  • In 2021, the combined share of applications received at the top five jurisdictions worldwide grew by 1.7 percentage points to 72.4%, due to a large growth in filings in China and the US.
  • Filings in the UK increased by +214.6%, after its exit from European Union

Snapshot of GI:

  • According to 93 national and local agencies, there was 63,600 protected GIs in existence in 2021.
  • High-income and higher middle-income economies reported a comparable percentage of almost 45% each of the 63,600 GIs in force in 2021, while lower-middle-income economies (9.5%) accounted for nearly one-tenth of the total. In terms of geographical distribution, Europe had the most GIs in force, accounting for 58.1% of all areas, followed by Asia (31.7%), Latin America and the Caribbean (4.5%), Oceania (3.3%), North America (2.3%), and Africa (0.1%).
  • The share of national GIs ranged from as low as 2.2% in the United Kingdom (UK) to up to 100% in Argentina. More than 90% of the GIs in force in Brazil (90.7%), China (94.4%), India (93.5%), Indonesia (91.7%) and Türkiye (99.7%) were national GIs, whereas almost all those in force in Germany (97%), Switzerland (97.4%) and the UK (97.8%) were foreign GIs
  • 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). (6,087)
  • Wines and spirits (51%) accounted for just over half of the global total in 2021, while agricultural items and foodstuffs (43.6%) and handicrafts (3.9%).
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (6,070) had the highest number of GIs in force for agricultural products, followed by Portugal (2,052), Bulgaria (2,028) and Germany (1,919).
  • For wines and spirits, Portugal had the most GIs in force (3,846), followed by Bulgaria (3,730), Germany (3,650) and Greece (3,290).
  • Switzerland (425), India (231) and the Republic of Moldova (136) each had a considerable number of GIs in force for handicrafts in 2021.

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 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.

To get recognition of a name or sign as a geographical indication the following conditions must be fulfilled: It must relate to a good, these goods must originate from a defined area, the goods must have qualities, reputations, or other characteristics which are clearly linked to the geographical origin of the goods.

According to section 2(e) of Geographical “geographical indication” in relation to goods is a name or sign used on products originating or manufactured in a particular geographical location to their particular geographical origin, a country, region or locality influenced by factors such as climate, soil, etc. Some examples include Darjeeling tea, Kanjeevarram Silk, Kolhapuri Chappal, Kashmiri Saffron, Manipur black rice, etc. Recently, Mithila Makhana from Bihar was awarded a GI tag. 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.

People creating new plant varieties, or those who have knowledge of manufacturing goods that qualify for geographical indication majorly hail from rural India, belong to a less educated class or are farmers. Excessive use of English is a disadvantage to these local inventors hence there is an urgent need for diverse content in different Indian languages, in order to safeguard the interest of local innovators.

Case Study: Darejeeling Tea

Case study of Darjeeling TeaDarjeeling tea, sometimes known as the "Champagne of teas," has been prized for generations for its particular flavour. On a global scale, the Tea Board has been working to conserve and preserve this treasured icon of India's cultural heritage as a Geographical Indication. DARJEELING word and logo were the first Geographical Indications to be registered in India in the name of the Tea Board.It was observed that tea produced in countries like Kenya, Sri Lanka or Nepal was often being passed off around the world as ‘Darjeeling tea’, which as a result caused damage to its reputation, and consumers and denied the premium price to the Darjeeling tea industry. Due to the absence of an exclusive law dedicated to the protection of GI, Tea Board in 1983, created the logo “Darjeeling”, which was then registered as a certification mark under the Indian Trade and Merchandise Act 1958. The logo was then registered in several other countries including the signatories of the Madrid Agreement.In 2003, the Tea Board applied for GI protection of ‘Darjeeling’ in October 2003 just after the enactment of the GI Act, an year later Darjeeling tea was granted GI status in India.The Tea Board hired Compumark in 1998; this international watch agency alerted the company of any efforts to register the name "Darjeeling" globally. Since then, The Tea Board has battled over 15 cases against the infringement and commercialization of the term "Darjeeling." These instances of attempted registrations were contested by oppositions, cancellations, and some through settlements.An instance is BULGARI, consented to withdraw the legend "Darjeeling Tea fragrance for males" after receiving legal notice and negotiations.Darjeeling tea was attempting to be registered in the US under the name Darjeeling Nouveau when the Tea Board launched a lawsuit for rejection against the Republic of Tea (RoT), a US firm.Jean-Luc Dusong had a mark made up of the term Darjeeling and a teapot logo to be registered in France for use on a variety of products and services, including artwork, engravings, books, journals, etc. In 2003, Tea Board filed a lawsuit in the French court.  The court observed that Mr Dusong had made an effort to capitalise on the reputation and financial value connected with the GI by acquiring the name Darjeeling and the symbol of a teapot.In 2000, a statutorily compulsory system of certifying the authenticity of the Darjeeling tea was put in place under the Tea Act, 1953. It mandated that every retailer of Darjeeling tea sign a License Agreement with the Tea Board India and pay an annual License Fee. The licensees were required to provide information on the Darjeeling tea's production, manufacturing, and sale by auction or other means, according to the terms and conditions stated in the agreement. It assisted the tea board to calculate and aggregate the volume of Darjeeling tea produced and sold in a set period and ensured teas from different sources can't be blended in any way.

About 10 million Kg of tea is grown every year of which over 70-80 % of the total production is exported abroad to more than 100 countries. One of the most costly and sought-after teas is Darjeeling first flush. The first flush of the current season of Darjeeling tea has reached a record price of Rs 23,000 per kg. Without a comprehensive economic analysis, it is challenging to determine the proportion of intellectual property (IP) in a nation's economy, the economic consequences of new digital technologies and breakthroughs, the economic impacts of overlapping rights, and the effects of giving bundles of rights.