This written work has been authored by Soumya, LL. B Student, UPES Dehradun.

A Blog covers the impact of ownership of Geographical Indication in India. Recently, an expansion has been seen in the registration for the ownership of Geographical Indication.

Geographical Indication is dealt under Intellectual Property Right, which provides protection and safeguard to the goods that is produced or manufactured in any particular area. The ownership of Geographical Indication tag refers the legal obligations and authority provided to the individuals, communities, or organisations to exercise the control over the specific GI tag.  Major registration for Geographical Indication tags in India happened recently. The main objectives for providing Geographical Indication (GI) tags are to promote the local goods, enhance the market value, provide recognitions to the local farmers and producer of that product, and also to promote tourism in that particular area. India has a statutory provision for Geographical Indication since 1999, in the form of The Geographical Indication (GI) of Goods Act (1999) to regulate and facilitate the registration process of Geographical Indication tags and protect the rights of farmers and producers of specific products. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) and TRIPS agreement played a crucial role in development of IP laws at global level. 

Major debates are still going on for providing GI tags to some products. The main topic of debate is which product should be provided GI tag and which product should not. More than 300 items are registered for Geographical Indication tags in India. Major registration for Geographical Indication tags in India happened recently.

Darjeeling Tea was the first product in India which has received the Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2004. The district of Darjeeling is situated in West Bengal, which is famous for their tea cultivation. Now, Darjeeling Tea got attention from the worldwide and, its demand and exports also increased. Basmati Rice has also Geographical Indication (GI) tag which is most famous and authentic type of grain in India. Basmati Rice is known for its aroma and unique kind of flavour. Geographical Indication (GI) tag helps to protect the reputation of Basmati Rice and recognize its specific origin i.e. several states of India (Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh), only these states can use the GI tag of Basmati Rice. 

Tamil Nadu has more than 60 GI tags, the highest number of registered Geographical Indication (GI) tag in India and Uttar Pradesh comes in second position. Kancheepuram Silk, Madurai Malli, Kandangi Saree, Thanjavur Paintings, etc are some famous Geographical Indication (GI) tag’s products of Tamil Nadu. Uttar Pradesh is famous for their handicraft products and has highest percentage (more than 25%) of handicraft items in the world. Chikankari of Lucknow is very famous and ancient art.  Firozabad glassware is another example from Uttar Pradesh. Bikaneri Bhujia of Rajasthan, Solapur Chaddar of Maharashtra, Chanderi Sarees of Madhya Pradesh, Mysore Silk of Karnataka, Guchhi Saffron of Jammu & Kashmir, Kullu Shawl of Himachal Pradesh, Kutch Embroidery of Gujrat, Muga Silk of Assam, Bastar Wooden Craft of Chhattisgarh, Madhubani Painting of Bihar, Shahi Litchi of Bihar, and many more. These all products of India from various origin got Geographical Indication (GI) tag. Several Prasads of famous religious places and some delicacies have also received GI tags for example- Laddu Prasadam of Tirumala Tirupati has got GI tag. Many products in India are still on hold for registration of Geographical Indication (GI) tags. 

     The Geographical Indication (GI) of Goods Act, not only provide recognitions but also protect the products from unauthorized trading. The Geographical Indication indicates specific qualities peculiar to that region from which that product originating. The term echoed the geographical origin of a certain product, as in the case of Basmati for certain aromatic rice from India and Pakistan, Champagne for sparkling wine from Champagne district of France and Habana for tobaccos from Havana, Cuba. As in case of Comite Interprofessional Du Vin De Champagne v. M/s. Chinar Agro Fruit Products, an infringement of Geographical Indication was claimed by the plaintiff against the defendant for using the label of ‘CHAMPANGE’. In case of Tea Board, India v. ITC Limited, the plaintiff filed the case the defendant was using the word ‘Darjeeling’ in the menu of his Lounge. But the court held that the word ‘Darjeeling’ is not trademark, it only indicates the origin of tea. Section 2(e) and Section 2(b) of Geographical Indication (GI) of Goods Act (1999), defines ‘Geographical Indication’ and ‘authorized user’ respectively. 

     India is a diverse country which holds variety of culture and heritage, however, glorified western culture could ignore the underrated regional or culturally significant local products which are originated from any particular area of India. Recently, an expansion in registration of Geographical Indication tags has been observed in India. Providing ownership of Geographical Indication (GI) tags is not only main concern but protecting the rights of farmers and producers of that specific goods against the unauthorized use of their Geographical Indication tags is also a topic of concern. Geographical Indication helps to provide recognition to the underrated geographical origin and the skill of their community.

     The Geographical Indication (GI) tag has its own significance but there must be certain limitation regarding the registration process. The ownership of Geographical Indication tags must not be readily available for any product until and unless it has some significant relation with the producer, origin or with their specific community from which the product belongs. 

The ownership of Geographical Indication (GI) tag has impacted Indian society somehow positively. The culture of our primary sector, i.e. agriculture and the farmers have received a specific recognition of their on-field work through GI tag. The underrated endeavours have received accomplishments and a relevant association of their self – reliant products. The various types of handicraft work, delicacies, natural products, art and painting etc of particular region have got the recognition through Geographical Indication which helps to prevent their authenticity. The standard of living of several community is somehow affected positively to a certain extent. It plays a crucial role for enhancing the tourism as well as it exposes the real roots of the cultural and regional heritage to its potential value, increasing the market value at the same time, raising the demands for export and hence, somehow contributes towards the economy of that state and ultimately to the Indian economy. 


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