A ‘geographical indication’ (GI) is a place name used to identify the origin and quality, reputation, or other characteristics of products. It is a sign used on products that have specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation by virtue of their geographical association. The owner of the GI tag has exclusive rights over the product and can prohibit others from using the same name.
For instance: champagne, Darjeeling tea, Nagpur Orange, Kangra Paintings
India’s GI Law “Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999″ has come into force with effect from Sep 2003.
In India, the tag is awarded by the GI Registry in Chennai, and it indicates that a produce possesses certain qualities exclusive to its land of origin.
WTO Law: GIs have been defined under Article 22(1) of the WTO Agreement on TRIPS.
- Darjeeling tea became the first GI tagged product in India, in 2004-05. Other famous GI products of India include Basmati Rice, Chanderi Fabric, Mysore Silk, Kanchipuram Silk, Banarasi Silk Saree, Jaipur Blue Pottery, Kullu Shawl, Kangra Tea, Thanjavur Painting, etc.
Significance of GI registration
- Legal protection -> Prevents unauthorized use of GI by others.
- Consumer protection -> right information -> GI Tag conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
- Promotes economic prosperity of the producers of goods by enhancing demand in national and international market
- Essential to get protection in other countries.
- Article 22 of TRIPS agreement says unless a geographical indication is protected in the country of its origin, there is no obligation under the agreement for other countries to extend reciprocal protection.
- Opportunity to promote development in rural areas: GI registration along with strengthening of e-commerce in rural areas can promote higher income for people producing GI tagged products.
- The hyper-localized nature of GI offers solutions to reverse urban migration and conserve India’s ancient crafts, culture and food.
- Other wider benefits – Encourages protection of biodiversity, local know-how and natural resources.
Challenges and Way forward
- GI businesses are micro; therefore, it is necessary to address the challenges of capacity building, formal or easy access to credit, forming marketing linkages, research and development, product innovation and competitiveness, in both domestic and international market.
- Solve the vexed issue of middlemen: Ensure that distribution margins of intermediaries are competitive and doesn’t exploit the producers.
- Promote GI cooperative bodies or associations. This can be nationally managed by a GI board under the auspices of the Department for the Promotion and Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
- Promote Digital literacy among the GI producers. This should be a priority agenda for NGOs and other stakeholders like DPIIT
Conclusion: The Indian GI economy can be a platform for India to showcase to the world a model for ethical capitalism, social entrepreneurship, de-urbanization, and bringing women to workforce, on the back of robust digital system
Discuss the key pre-requisites and advantages of getting Geographical Indication Status for any product. [15 marks, 250 words]