Earth is a big box of treasure full of priceless gems. We all are alchemists in this world searching for a treasure. Many a times we fail to acknowledge the hidden treasure lying right beneath our feet. When a man found its own worth and value in art and creativity, nature found its own ingenuity in what unique it had to offer.
We have been hearing since ages about the world famed Kashmir’s apples and pashmeena, Nagpur’s oranges, Kanjivaram’s silk sarees, Darjeeling’s tea, and the world famous Basmati rice. These are a sheer example of geographical indications. These cities are now known worldwide by the production of these products. These cities and various regions found recognition by introducing the world to what special they have with them. Every region has its own speciality which is created, preserved and taken forward by the masters of those regions. Every place has its own claim of fame which is carefully handed over from generation to generation for centuries. Geographical indication evolved as the link between the goods and places where they were produced evolved with time.
- What are geographical indications?
GI is a tag which indicates the origin of goods in a particular territory of a country. It authenticates the goods which succeed in achieving a recognition based on their quality reputation or other characteristics. It is a type of Intellectual property which focuses on ingenuity of the good. Any natural, agricultural, handicraft or food product of a specific region which holds special attributes or such characteristics which are unique, qualifies for a GI registration.
- Benefits of registering a geographical indication:
- The major benefit of getting a GI registration has been the increase in production.
- It highly contributes in the promotion of goods as it provides a valid recognition to itself.
- It provides legal protection and saves the identity of a particular region, product, and people’s year long efforts by keeping its infringement at bay.
- Various producers were able to become economically strong through it.
- It prevents unauthorized usage of a registered GI by any other person in any part of the world.
- It enhances tourism by building the reputation of product in all parts of the world.
- Registration Process in India:
- Filing of application:
The application for the registration of GI is to be made to Registrar of GI who is the Controller of Patents, Designs and Trademarks appointed under section 3(1) of the Trademarks act 1999. Following are the prerequisites of an application:
- Application to be made under form GI-1
- Duly signed by the agent or the applicant
- Triplicate copies
- Affidavit of association of persons, producers, authority or organizations
- Detailed description of unique features of the product and how are they maintained.
- Details of all the applicants with their address. A collective reference application can also be made in case of large number of applicants.
- Application can be filed by either a legal practitioner or an agent.
The indication must duly fall into the definition of Section 2(1)(e) of the Geographical Indications Act.
- Preliminary scrutiny – A consultative group of experts and registrar scrutinizes the application for any deficiency. It is then informed to the applicant and is expected to rectify it within one month.
- Examination – After complete scrutiny of the application, an examination report is prepared by the authority ascertaining the correctness of particulars furnished.
- Show cause notice – A notice is issued by the registrar to the applicant asking them to remove any discrepancies if any within two months or apply for hearing.
The applicant gets two options on receiving any objection by the registrar or if there is any discrepancy in the application, i.e., To apply for a hearing within 1 month or to reply to the notice addressing the issues.
The registrar has complete authority to withdraw the application if there is any error after providing a chance to applicant and duly hearing him.
- Publishing it in GI Journal – Every application which meets all required conditions and is eligible to be a GI is published in GI journal as an advertisement within 3 months of its receipt by the Registrar. This is done so to receive any objection if there be by any other concerned person.
- Opposition to Registration –
- If there’s any objection on the application then it must be filed within 3 months of the publication in journal. Another one month can be granted for raising the objection but only on prior request made during first 3 months.
- The registrar further serves the notice to the applicant on receipt of the objection and seeks counter statement by them within 2 months.
- If the applicant fails to reply the application is rejected or if the reply comes then both the same is forwarded to the opposition.
- A hearing on the same is called by the registrar asking both the parties to present with their arguments, supporting evidences and affidavits.
- Registration – On the approval of the application the registration certificate is provided. It is to be noted that when the registration is provided the date of filing of application is considered and noted as the date of registration. The certificate duly consist the seal and approval of GI registry.
- Duration and Renewal – A registration is valid for 10 years from the date of registration. It can be renewed by paying additional fees on expiry of every 10 years’ tenure.
Since the time of TRIPS agreement, there has been a substantial growth in the awareness about GI in India. Geographical indication has contributed largely in the promotion of tourism in India. It also helped in endorsing the pearls of our country in Global village. Producers of our country must understand that GI is undeniably an invaluable marketing and promotional tool for their product, region, heritage, and continuous efforts of maintain and preserving it. Agricultural, handicraft or natural products are the biggest asset of India and marks themselves as a greatest intellectual property. Its protection is thus of utmost importance specially when India is moving rapidly towards MAKE IN INDIA concept.