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Deep Analysis of Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999

In the Indian context, Geographical Indications (GIs) has evolved in the past few years as a prominent form of the concern of intellectual property. GI allows a producer community distinguish their goods from competitor's goods, also build goodwill for their goods, perhaps at a premium price. GIs serve as a communication platform from the consumer's perspective, enabling them to differentiate high premium goods and thus safeguard them from counterfeit goods.

Considering their commercial potential, sufficient legal enforcement of GIs is vital to minimize misappropriation of them. For the protection of GI the parliament enforced The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, together with The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Rules, 2002. The paper intends to overview and analysis the important provisions of the Act.

India, as a member the World Trade Organization, passed the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 which was enforced from 15 Sep 2003. GI Act was established to register as well as protect goods relating to GIs. A GI registration in India is being implemented by the Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (CGPDT), Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.

The CGPDT coordinates and regulates the working of the Geographical Indications Registry and any inquiries or complaints aligned with GI registration can be made at Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) at Chennai, India.

GI registration in India has numerous advantages which incorporate, legitimate protection in India, precludes unauthorized utilization of a registered GI by others. It assists with expanding Indian GI exports, it advances economic wealth of makers of goods produced in a geographical territory and it additionally empowers seeking for legitimate protection in other member countries of WTO.

GI registrations began in India from April 2004 moreover goods are registered in 4 classes:

  1. Agricultural
  2. Foodstuff
  3. Handicrafts and
  4. Manufactured goods
Over the ongoing past, GI has emerged as a critical type of Intellectual Property Rights issue in the India. GI helps a network of maker producers to separate their items from contending items in the market and construct goodwill around their items, frequently fetching a quality price. From customer�s perspective, GIs go about as a flagging gadget, which causes them recognize veritable quality-items and furthermore ensure them against fakes.

Taking into account their business potential, sufficient legitimate protection of GIs becomes essential to preclude their misappropriation. In spite of the fact that India has previously possessed an impressive number of items that could fit the bill for lawful protection as geographical designators, the activities to abuse this potential started as of late when the nation set up as sui generis system of GI insurance with the order of �the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, coupled with the �Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Rules, 2002.

However, there were three substitute manners by which the then existing lawful frameworks of the nation could be used for forestalling the abuse of GIs.
  1. under the consumer protection laws;
  2. by passing off action in courts; and
  3. by certification trademarks.

Socio-Economic Perspective

Geographical Indications are intellectual property rights. Their capacity is to recognize items on the market, like trademarks as well as trade names. Well protected as well as pro-actively utilized, GIs are an extremely fascinating advertising device since they can pass on a great deal of information from the producer to the purchaser. GI give the producers of a region the exclusive right to utilize the indication for their items originated from that province.

It likewise implies that they reserve the privilege to disallow any unapproved use usurpation or impersonation of the sign on an item that isn't from the designated area or which doesn't have the characteristics ensured by the GI.

GI adds to the socio-economic enhancement of the province around the world over. They generate employment, contribute to the rules of the market as well as empower the expansion of production. Furthermore, they guard natural resources as well as uphold the cultural heritage. Much like trademarks, the economic reason of GIs depends on the information asymmetry among purchasers and sellers in the market as well as role of repute, expresses through distinguishing signs, in talking such asymmetry.

Given its commercial potential the lawful protection of GI accept tremendous noteworthiness. Without such protection, contenders not having genuine right on a GI might ride free on its notoriety. Such unjustifiable business practice brings about loss of income for the legitimate right holders of the GI and furthermore deceives the purchasers.

Besides, such practices may in the long run hamper the generosity and notoriety related with the GI. In request to preclude its abuse and to plug the potential monetary and financial advantages exuding from this IP, it is fundamental to guarantee a fitting lawful insurance for GIs at the national level.

Status of registration in India[1]

According to a study there are approximately 1500 Indian goods which are having the potential to get GI tag[2]. But only 346 products have been registered so far till March 2020. Karnataka has registered the highest no. of GI tags where as Jharkhand, Lakshadweep, Chandigarh, Andaman &Nicobar Island have not registered any solo GI. 15 foreign products have also been awarded GI tag.

Analysis of the GI Act

Prior to to passing of GI Act, there was no Act for the protection of geographical indication in India. The need and reason for this law has been apropos expressed in the statement of object.
  1. What is Geographical Indications?
    Sec 2(e) of the Act defines �geographical indications� in relation to goods to mean an indication which identifies such goods as:
    1. agricultural goods, natural goods or
    2. manufactured goods as originating, or
    3. manufactured in the territory of county, or
    4. 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 preparations of the goods concerned takes place in such territory, region or locality, as the case may be.
  2. Registration
    The process of filing application for registration of GI
    1. Following persons can apply for registration of GI (section 11)
      1. Any association of person
      2. Every associate of producers
      3. Any organisation or else any authority established under any law, if represents the interest of producers of the concerned products./
        The aforesaid Person who is eager to register any GI may apply to the registrar in the prescribed format.
    2. Particulars of application (Sec 11)
      1. An affidavit by the applicant that symbolize his interest.
      2. Three copies of application are required.
      3. Application shall be duly signed by the applicant or his representative.
      4. Application must convoy the statement of case.
      5. Exceptional features of the good as well as how its benchmark is maintained must be provided in detail in the application.
      6. Map of region to which GI is related shall also be attached(3 certified copies)
      7. The personal details and address of applicant should be provided in the application.
    3. Objection to registration (Sec14)
      1. Any person having any objection regarding advertisement of an application for registration of GI may file an application of objection within 3 months from the date of advertisement and may be further extended for the period of 1 month if so requested before the completion of 3 months.
      2. The registrar will serve a copy of application of objection to the applicant.
      3. Within the tenure of 2 months the applicant has to send a counter statement. If the applicant doesn�t act in accordance with the aforesaid the application shall be supposed to dispose of.
      4. The registrar will provide the copy of counter statement of applicant to the person who has filed the application of objection.
      5. Both the parties have to present evidence for taking sides of their claims by means of affidavit as well as supporting documents.
      6. On the day fixed for hearing the objection may be accepted or rejected
    4. Period of protection (Sec 18)
      GI can be registered for the tenure of 10 years however it may be renewed again by filing application in prescribed form along with prescribed fees.
    5. Effects of registration
      1. Registration of a GI gives its proprietor as well as the authorised agent the sole right to utilize registered good. Further, registration offers right to institution of suit against encroachment and recuperation of damage for such infringement. (Sec21)
      2. Infringement can be caused by utilization of the GI on such goods which shows that such goods originate in such place other than its actual place which deceive the public about its geographical source or by means of unfair trade competition. (Sec 22)
      3. No person shall be allowed to institute any suit to avert, or to recover damages for, the violation of an unregistered GI. However, if there should be an occurrence of non-registered GIs, an instance of passing-off can be instituted.(Sec20)
      4. Registration acts an as a prima facie proof of legitimacy of the indication and ownership. (Sec23)
      5. The registration can't be transferred, mortgaged, assigned or licensed, except in case of inheritance of the mark upon death of an authorised user. (Sec24)
  3. Effect of non-registration
    For registration, the indications is required to fall within the extent of sec 2(1) (e) of GI Act. Being in this way, it needs to likewise fulfill the requirements of sec 9, which exclude registration of a GI
    1. the use of which would be likely to deceive or cause confusion; or
    2. the use of which would be contrary to any law for the time being in force; or
    3. which comprises or contains scandalous or obscene matter; or
    4. which comprise or contains any matter likely to hurt the religious susceptibilities of any class or section of the citizens of India; or
    5. which would otherwise be disentitled to protection in a court; or
    6. 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
    7. 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, shall not be registered as a geographical indication.

      For the purposes of this section, generic names or indications refers to the name of a good which, although relates to the place or region where the goods were originally produced or manufactured, has lost its original meaning and has become the common name of such goods and serves as a designation for or indication of the kind, nature, type or other property or characteristics of the goods.

      In evaluating whether the name has become generic, all factors including the existing situation in the region or place where the name originates and the area of consumption of the goods shall be taken into consideration
  4. Remedies for infringement of a GI
    1. Civil Remedies (Sec 67)
      • Injunction( ex-parte or any other interlocutory order)
      • Damages
      • Delivery up of the infringing labels and indications

        The court shall not grant remedy if the defendant satisfies that he was ignorant and had no rational ground to consider that the GI was register in the name of plaintiff and after being awarded of plaintiff�s right in GI, he immediately ceases to utilize it.
    2. Criminal Remedies (Sec 38-44)
      The GI contains penal provision for violation of various provisions relating to GI are given below:
      1. Falsifying and falsely applying geographical indications to goods.
      2. Selling goods to which false geographical indications is applied.
      3. Falsely representing a geographical indication as registered.
      4. Improperly describing a place of business as connected with the geographical indications registry.
      5. Falsification of entries in the register.

Penalty for the aforementioned offence

Imprisonment for 6 months which may extent up to 3yr with or without fine which shall not less than 50,000 and extent up to 2 lakh.

After analyzing the Act it is concluded that the Act has enlisted a number of provisions to execute the statement of object. But still after 17 years of enforcement there is very less number of registration which clearly shows the lack of awareness about the provisions of the Act. For the implementation of the Act public awareness is required. The consumer and the producers both are required to know their right to protect themselves from all kind of unfair practice.

  1. List released by the registrar of geographical indications, Chennai,
  2. Natarajan, V. (2008) �Indian perspective of GI Registration�, presentation delivered in the Regional Conference on IPR protection through Geographical Indication, organised by the UNCTAD India programme and the Textiles Committee, Hyderabad, India, 3-4, June.

Written By:
  1. Saket Anand - BBA LLB, University Institute of Legal Studies, Chandigarh University.
  2. Komal Chowbey - BBA LLB, Faculty of Law, Banasthali Vidyapith

    Awarded certificate of Excellence
    Authentication No: AG023062023762-17-820

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