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Geographical Indications of Goods

Frequently Asked Questions

Every region has its claim to fame. Christopher Columbus sailed from Europe to chart out a new route to capture the wealth of rich Indian spices. English breeders imported Arabian horses to sire Derby winners. China silk, Dhaka muslin,Venetian Glass all were much sought after treasures. Each reputation was carefully built up and painstakingly maintained by the masters of that region, combining the best of Nature and Man, traditionally handed over from one generation to the next for centuries. Gradually, a specific link between the goods and place of production evolved resulting in growth of geographical indications.
 
In December 1999, the Parliament had passed the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,1999. This Act seeks to provide for the registration and better protection of geographical indications relating to goods in India. The Act would be administered by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks- who is the Registrar of Geographical Indications. The Geographical Indications Registry would be located at Chennai.
   
What is a Geographical Indication?
 
It is an indication
It originates from a definite geographical territory.
It is used to identify agricultural, natural or manufactured goods
The manufactured goods should be produced or processed or prepared in that territory.
It should have a special quality or reputation or other characteristics
Examples of possible Indian Geographical Indications. Basmati Rice Darjeeling Tea
Kanchipuram Silk Saree
Alphanso Mango
Nagpur Orange
Kolhapuri Chappal
Bikaneri Bhujia
Agra Petha
What is the benefit of registration of geographical indications?
It confers legal protection to Geographical Indications in India
Prevents unauthorised use of a Registered Geographical Indication by others
It provides legal protection to Indian Geographical Indications which in turn boost exports.
It promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods produced in a geographical territory.
 
Who can apply for the registration of a geographical indication?
Any association of persons, producers, organisation or authority established by or under the law can apply:
The applicant must represent the interest of the producers
The application should be in writing in the prescribed form
The application should be addressed to the Registrar of Geographical Indications alongwith prescribed fee.
 
Who is a registered proprietor of a geographical indication?
Any association of persons, producers, organisation or authority established by or under the law can be a registered proprietor.
Their name should be entered in the Register of Geographical Indication as registered proprietor for the Geographical Indication applied for.
 
Who is an authorised user?
A producer of goods can apply for registration as an authorised user
It must be in respect of a registered geographical indication
He should apply in writing in the prescribed form alongwith prescribed fee
 
Who is a producer in relation to a Geographical Indication?
The persons dealing with three categories of goods are covered under the term Producer:
Agricultural Goods includes the production, processing, trading or dealing
Natural Goods includes exploiting, trading or dealing
Handicrafts or Industrial goods includes making, manufacturing, trading or dealing.
 
Is a registration of a geographical indication compulsory and how does it help the applicant?
Registration is not compulsory
Registration affords better legal protection to facilitate an action for infringement
The registered proprietor and authorised users can initiate infringement actions
The authorised users can exercise the exclusive right to use the geographical indication.
 
Who can use the registered geographical indication?
An authorised user has the exclusive rights to the use of geographical indication in relation to goods in respect of which it is registered.
 
How long the registration of Geographical Indication is valid?
The registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years
 
Can a Geographical Indication be renewed?
It can be renewed from time to time for further period of 10 years each.
 
What is the effect if a Geographical Indication if it is not renewed?
If a registered geographical indication is not renewed it is liable to be removed from the register.
 
When is a registered Geographical Indication said to be infringed?
When an unauthorised user uses a geographical indication that indicates or suggests that such goods originate in a geographical area other than the true place of origin of such goods in a manner which mislead the public as to the geographical origin of such goods.
When the use of geographical indication result in an unfair competition including passing off in respect of registered geographical indication.
When the use of another geographical indication results in false representation to the public that goods originate in a territory in respect of which a registered geographical indication relates.
 
Who can initiate an infringement action?
The registered proprietor or authorised users of a registered geographical indication can initiate an infringement action.
 
Can a registered geographical indication be assigned, transmitted, etc?
No. A geographical indication is a public property belonging to the producers of the concerned goods.
It shall not be the subject matter of assignment, transmission, licensing, pledge, mortgage or such other agreement
However, when an authorised user dies, his right devolves on his successor in title.
 
Can a registered geographical indication or a registered authorised user be removed from the register?
Yes. The Appellate Board or the Registrar of Geographical Indications has the power to remove the geographical indication or an authorised user from the register. Further, on application by an aggrieved person action can be taken.
 
How a geographical indication is different from a trade mark?
A trade mark is a sign which is used in the course of trade and it distinguishes goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises.
Whereas a geographical indication is an indication used to identify goods having special characteristics originating from a definite geographical territory.