WHAT ARE GI TAGS?

INTRODUCTION

A GI or Geographical Indications is a sign used on the products which have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.

In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its origin place of production.[1]

It is part of Intellectual property rights that comes under the Paris Convention for the protection of Industrial property.

Geographical Indications of Goods are defined as that aspect of industrial property which refer to the geographical indication referring to a country or to a place situated therein as being the country or place of origin of that product. Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to the fact of its origin in that defined geographical locality, region or country. Under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of IPRs. They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the Agreements concluding the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.[2]

In India, GI registration is administered by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registrations & Protection) Act of 1999. Geographical Indications are typically used for agriculture products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts, and industrial products.[3]

Section 3 of Part II of the TRIPS Agreement consist of  ‘Geographical Indications’. A geographical indication (GI) is defined in the TRIPS Agreement as an indication which identifies a good as originating in the territory of a member, or a regional locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin. Typical examples would be ‘Cognac’ for a brandy coming from that region of France and ‘Darjeeling’ for tea coming from that region of India.[4]

IMPORTANCE

Many people and associations across the globe often get confused while thinking about whether it is worthwhile to obtain GI protection or not. Some of the benefits of registering a geographical indication are as follows, which will help you in understanding its importance.[5]

1- ENHANCES ECONOMIC GROWTH

The protection of geographical indications leads to the overall economic prosperity of the manufacturers and producers. Furthermore, the marketing and promotion of the products with the GI tags enhance the secondary economic activities in that specific region, which in turn boosts the regional economic development. Last but not least, the protection of geographical indications creates a positive image and reputation of the product in the minds of the consumers and rewards the producers with incentives and better ROI.

2- PREVENTS UNAUTHORIZED USE OF GI TAGS

The registered holder of the GI tag has all the legal rights to prevent anyone not belonging to the GI region from using their GI tags. The owners can also initiate legal proceedings against the unauthorized user to save their reputation from being damaged.

3- EXPANDS BUSINESS

The prime purpose of registering a geographical indication is to seek protection for specific products produced in a particular geographical region, which further encourages and motivates the marketers to expand their business at a global level. Furthermore, the protection of geographical indications boosts exports and helps the producers in earning well for themselves.

4- INCREASES TOURISM

The protection of GI tags builds a global reputation for the products. People around the world notice various GI products from different regions and get motivated to visit those regions and use such products. Therefore, it helps in the growth of the tourism industry of that particular region as well.

LAWS AND TREATIES

There is a number of international laws and treaties which deal with Geographical Indications, partly or entirely with the protection or appellations of origin of GI.

Few relevant treaties administered by WIPO

  1. Paris Convention
  2. Madrid Agreement for the Repression of False or Deceptive Indications of source on Goods
  3. Lisbon Agreement
  4. Madrid Agreement
  5. Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement
  6. Overview of the TRIPS Agreement on the WTO Website.

[1] https://www.wipo.int/geo_indications/en/ (Last visited on 28th August 2021).

[2] https://ipindia.gov.in/about-us-gi.htm (Last visited on 27th August 2021).

[3] https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/what-are-gi-tags-and-how-are-they-awarded/article31667981.ece. (Last visited on 28th August 2021).

[4] https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/ta_docs_e/modules4_e.pdf (Last visited 28th August 2021)

[5] https://www.kashishworld.com/blog/geographical-indication-overview-importance-and-benefits/

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