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What are the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999?

Tanya Verma

| Updated: Sep 21, 2019 | Category: General

Geographical-Indications

The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 often called as GI Act, enacted by the Government of India for the protection of Geographical Indications. In this blog we are going to learn more about Geographical Indications, the method to get registration, and other important factors and guidelines related to it.

What are Geographical Indications?

Geographical Indication refers to a name or sign of/on a product that has a close similarity with a specific geographical location or origin. These geographical locations/origins may include a town, region, or country.

The Geographical Indication is used as a type of indication of the source. It acts as a certification that the product possesses specific qualities, or is made with traditional methods, or has specific reputation due to its geographical origin.

So, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) enacted the GI Act to comply with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs)[1].

The GI tag on the products depicts that no person/entity is allowed to use the popular product name other than those registered as the authorized user or people who are residing inside the geographical territory.

In India, Darjeeling Tea became the first product to be GI tagged in 2004-05. Since then, 323 goods have been added to this list till August 2018. Other examples include Malabar Pepper, Bangalore Blue Grapes, and manufactured goods like Pochampalli Ikat, Kancheepuram Silk, Solapuri Chandars, Bagh Prints, Madhubani Paintings, etc.

About the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999

The Geographical Indications of Goods {Registration and Protection} Act, was first approved on 30th December 1999 and was commenced on 15th September 2003. The GI Act provides better protection of geographical indications related to goods through registrations.

As per Section 2 (1) (e) Geographical Indication is defined as “an indication which identifies such goods as agricultural goods, natural goods or manufactured goods as originating, or manufactured 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.”

Registration Procedure

The process of registering the Geographical Indication is as follows;

  • First, the application for registration must be made with the Registrar of Geographical Indications by the person/producer or the entity or authority established under the law representing the interest of the producer of the concerned goods.
  • The application should be made in the appropriate form containing the quality, nature, reputation. Also, it should contain other characteristics such as related to the geographical environment, manufacturing process, natural and human factors, map of territory or production, the appearance of geographical indication and the list of producers along with the prescribed fees.
  • Then the Registrar inspects the product/good for any deficiency, in case of refusal, the applicant needs to rectify the deficiency/defect within a period of one month from the date of the communication.
  • The Registrar may accept, partially accept, or reject the application. In case of rejection, the Registrar will provide the reason for non-acceptance in writing. The applicant must file a reply within 2 months. Upon re-refusal, the applicant can make an appeal within 1 month of such decision.
  • In case of approval, the Registrar will advertise the application in the GI Journal, within three months of acceptance of the application.
  • In case there is no opposition, the Registrar will issue a Certificate of Registration to the applicant and the authorized users.

Duration of GI Registration

The GI is registered initially for a period of 10 years, and can be renewed from time to time.

Exclusions of GI Registration

As per Section 9 of the Geographical Indications of Goods {Registration and Protection} Act, the following indications cannot be registered;

  • That would likely deceive or cause confusion
  • That would contrary to any law
  • Comprising of scandalous or obscene matter
  • Which contains any matter that could hurt any religious belief
  • Which are disentitled to protection in a court
  • Names which are generic
  • Which falsely represents the origin of the products/goods in another territory, region, locality, etc.

What are the Effects of Registration?

Registration of the Geographical Indication provides its owner and the authorized users the exclusive right to use the indication in the way which satisfies the purpose of its registration. Furthermore, registration of GI protects it against infringement and recovery of damages for such infringement.

Infringement is caused by use of the GI in a place other than its place of origination, in other words, if any product indicates that such product originates from a place other than the place it was originally from. Registration acts as a piece of evidence indicating the validity and ownership of the particular GI.  

However, the registration cannot be transferred, mortgaged, assigned or licensed, except in case of inheritance of the GI upon the death of an authorized user.

Penalty

Anyone who infringes, falsely applies or falsifies any geographical indication, interferes with the origin of the product, make or have in possession of dye, block, machine, to falsify or copy the GI is liable for a penalty. The punishment for such infringements is not less than 6 months and that may extend to 3 years and with a fine not less than Rs. 50,000 and may extend up to Rs. 2 lakhs.

In the case of second and subsequent defaults the punishments include;

  • Jail term of 1 year, which may extend to 3 years and
  • Fine of Rs. 1 lakh and can extend up to Rs. 2 lakh

However, the judge can reduce the punishment in certain conditions stating the reasons for the reduction of the punishment in his judgment.

Other offenses include falsification of entries in the register, falsely represent the GI to be registered, or falsely represent the place connected to the GI Registry.

To Conclude

The Geographical Indications represents the aspect of intellectual property which refers to the geographical indications referring to a country, or the place of origin of that product. Typically, such name indicates that the product consists of some special quality and distinctiveness of finding only in a particular geographical location, region or country.

Under Articles 1(2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, GIs are covered as a subject or element of Intellectual Property Rights[2]. Also, it is covered under the Article 22-24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights {TRIPs} Agreement, which was the part of Agreements concluding the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.

Tanya Verma

Tanya is working as writer & editor from past 2 years with experience in covering startup and technology related topics.

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