The fast growth of International Trade has brought markets closer than ever before. This brings into focus a concern based on the protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for the goods or products that find themselves in markets at the other end of the world as the extension is given to liberalisation in International Trade.
Property means things that are commonly considered as being the possession of an individual or a group. A right of ownership is associated with the property that establishes the good as being “one’s own thing”. When this property is based or created by the intellect of an individual, it is referred to as IPR (1).
Product of India In International Market:
From Darjeeling tea to Basmati rice, India has seen a wide range of products originating in the country that has made a name for themselves in international markets. These products have found a niche because of the quality associated with their point of origin. Various conditions give rise to a quality product such as the soil conditions, environmental and human factors etc. Further, India’s diverse culture and ecological conditions ranging from the equatorial in the south, the temperate in the middle and the deciduous in the foothills of the Himalayas, gives rise to unique requirements for the creation of various indigenous crops, products, and handicraft. This point of origin and quality of the product associated therein is a field of IP family and forms the concept of Geographical Indication (GIs).
Origin and Legal Protection of GI:
Geographical indications (GIs) obtained global significance in 1994 with their legal protection as an intellectual property right (IPR) in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The legal protection of GIs had evolved substantially since 1883 when phrase “appellation of origin “( a particular type of GI) was first introduced in the international arena.
WTO’s Trips Two-Tier Standard Of Protection For GIs:
It was only in 1995 that GIs were given worldwide consideration and protection with the signature of the TRIPS agreement.
The TRIPS agreement doesn’t specify the legal means to protect GIs – it is left to each of the member parties to decide upon specific instruments.
Members usually protect GIs of –
- Laws which are focusing on business practices.
- Trademark law.
- Special or sui generics protection.
- Under collective or certification mark regimes. (the United States protects the right under collective and accreditation mark regimes)
GIs Are Intangible Assets:
Like all IPRs, a GI is an intangible asset and is an indefinable, not physical, which constitutes a legal claim to future benefits through the Special Rights & Privileges attached to it.
Relationship Between Traditional Knowledge (TK) & GI:
Products identified by a GI are often the result of Traditional processes and knowledge carried by a community in a particular region from generations to generations. Similarly, some products identified by a GI may embody characteristics elements of the Traditional artistic heritage of development in a given region known as Traditional culture expressions (TCEs).
This particularly true for the tangible products such as Handicrafts, made using Natural resources and having qualities derived from their Geographical origin. GIs don’t directly protect the subject matter generally associated with TK which remain in the public domain under conventional IP systems. They circuitously contribute to their safeguard. For instance, by preserving them for future generations.
Recent Judgement Regarding GI
Comite Interprofessionnel Du Vin … vs M/S Chinar Agro-Fruit Products on 7 September 2017
- The Plaintiff filed this Suit for infringement of Geographical Indication Under Section 22 of The Geographical Indications Of Goods (Registration And Protection) Act, 1999 (hereinafter referred to as the GI Act) for restraining the Defendant from committing, inter-alia, acts of infringement of the Plaintiff’s registered geographical indication “CHAMPAGNE” by using the name CHAMPAGNE in respect of non-alcoholic sparkling drinks (2).
- The use of the name CHAMPAGNE by the Defendant on its products, which do not originate from the CHAMPAGNE region, amounts to infringement of the Plaintiff’s registered Geographical Indication within the meaning of Section 22(3) of the GI Act (3).
- The protection afforded to an infringement of Geographical Indication is absolute regarding Section 67 of the Act. Absolute protection is afforded because any infringement would be presumed to cause damage to the goodwill and reputation of the producers in the CHAMPAGNE region.
Geographical Indications Are Typically Used For:
- Agricultural products.
- Industrial products.
- Spirit Drinks.
The Classification of Alphonso Mangoes In India VIS A VIS Geographical Indication.
Geographical indication is a type of name or sign which is used on specific products which indicate that the product belongs to a particular geographical location.
The Alphonso mangoes are now to be sold only by farmers of Ratnagiri, Devgard, by using the GI tag.
The fruit sellers at Ratnagiri and Devgad were facing a severe problem that is the fruit sellers sold mangoes in the name of Alphonso mangoes, and the farmers suffered a massive loss because of this illegal activity.
So the union commerce’s geological survey department gave the GI tag to the Ratnagiri and Devgad Alphonso mangoes so that the farmers won’t have to bear loss as the cheaper variety of mangoes were sold as Alphonso Mango.
Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, the mango traders and agricultural research institutes from Konkan filed a petition to the geographical indication registrar in Mumbai stating that the mango produced in Konkan should get a GI tag in the name of Konkan Alphonso mangoes and not only Alphonso mangoes. The registrar said that the word Alphonso could not be GI tagged under separate names. So the petitioner is asked to file a fresh petition after thinking of a proper name, and the GI tag is still pending in Maharashtra.
Broadly speaking Geographical Indication are protected in nations and regional systems through an extensive range of approaches and often using a permutation of two or more procedures or methods. These means have been developed by diverse legal traditions and within a framework of individual historical and economic conditions.
- Taglines/names – Marketingprofs. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.marketingprofs.com/ea/qst_question.asp?qstid=22157
- Comite Interprofessionnel Du Vin … vs M/S Chinar Agro-Fruit Products, 7 September 2017