According to the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, Section – 2, clause defines the term geographical indications, “geographical indication”, in relation to goods, means an indication which identifies such goods as agricultural goods, natural goods or manufactured goods as originating, or manufactured in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin and in case where such goods are manufactured goods one of the activities of either the production or of processing or preparation of the goods concerned takes place in such territory, region or locality, as the case may be.
The TRIPS prescribes minimum standards of protection of GIs and additional protection for wines and spirits. Articles 22 to 24 of Part II Section III of the TRIPS prescribe minimum standards of protection to the geographical indications that WTO members must provide. India, in compliance with its obligation under TRIPS, has taken legislative measures by enacting the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, which came into effect on 15th September, 2003 and the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Rules, 2002.
Need for Geographical indications
Quite often, we doubt whether the geographical indication is worthwhile. Let’s have a look at the below benefits relating to GI protection and get a precise solution to this confusion that keeps hovering over millions of minds.
GI tag bestows the growers with a legal security shield that motivates them to make more efforts and increase the production of better quality products. A rise in production enables the farmers and nation to export more. Hence, we can say that geographical indication boosts up exports.
Grows Economic Wealth
By rewarding the products with a good reputation, geographical indication plays a vital role in making the producers confident to ask optimal prices for their world-class products. It means GI protection results in the growth of the economic wealth of producers, which further leads to the development of their country’s economy.
Graphical indication protection provides the producer with legal rights to prevent anyone who does not belong to his geographical region from misusing his certification. It is the best way to prevent damages to the reputation of genuine farmers and their high-quality goods. As per some reports, the growers who sell with a tag of a geographical indication face minimum possible competition from fake vendors who vend bogus commodities.
Benefits of Geographical Indication
Registered geographical indications have the exclusive right to access or use G.I.’s products during the business. AuthorizedAuthorized users enjoy the right to sue for infringement. It provides legal protection to geographical signs in India. Prevents unauthorized use of registered geographical indications by others. It provides legal protection to Indian geographical signals which in turn promotes exports. It promotes the economic prosperity of producers of goods produced in a geographical area. A registered owner can also approach for legal protection in other WTO member countries. It provides legal protection to the respective goods in domestic as well as international markets.
Registration of Geographical Indications
Under Section – 11 of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, An application for the registration of a GI is to be made to the Registrar of Geographical Indications in the form prescribed under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (the GI Act) read with the Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Rules, 2002 (the GI Rules).
Duration of Protection
Under Section – 18 of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, A Geographical Indication is registered for a period of 10 years and the registration may be renewed from time to time for a period of 10 years at a time.
Infringement of Geographical Indications
Under Section – 22 of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, The remedies relating to the infringement of Geographical Indications are similar to the remedies relating to the infringement of Trademark. Similarly, under the (Indian) Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, falsification of a Geographical Indication will carry a penalty with imprisonment for a term which may not be less than six months but may extend to three years and with a fine which may not be less than Rs 50,000 (approx. US$ 800) but may extend to Rs 2,00,000 (approx. US$ 3,000).
What Indications are not registrable?
For registrability, the indications must fall within the scope of section 2(1)e of GI Act, 1999. Being so, it has to also satisfy the provisions of section 9, which prohibits registration of a Geographical Indication
- the use of which would be likely to deceive or cause confusion; or
- the use of which would be contrary to any law for the time being in force; or
- which comprises or contains scandalous or obscene matter; or
- which comprises or contains any matter likely to hurt the time being in force; religious susceptibilities of any class or section of the citizens of India; or
- which would otherwise be dismantled to protection in a court; or
- which are determined to be generic names or indications of goods and are, therefore, not or ceased to be protected in their country of origin or which have fallen into disuse in that country; or
- which although literally true as to the territory region or locality in which the goods originate, but falsely represent to the persons that the goods originate in another territory, region or locality as the case may be.
Geographical Indications of Goods are defined as that aspect of industrial property, which refers 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, the GI tag 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. They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS), which was part of the Agreements concluding the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations. Promoters of Geographical indications regard them as strong tools for protecting their national property rights. Opponents, however, consider GI as a barrier to trade.
Understanding Intellectual Property by Dr. Mathew Thomas
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