Why Geographical Indications?
A Geographical indication indicates that particular goods originate from a country, region or locality and has some special characteristics, qualities or reputation which could be attributable to the place of its manufacture. The special characteristics, qualities or reputation attached to products or goods may be due to various factors, for instance natural factors such like raw materials, soil, regional climate, temperature, etc.; or the method of manufacture or preparation of the product such as traditional production methods; or other human factors such as concentration of similar businesses in the same region, specialization in the production or preparation of certain products and the maintaining of certain quality standards.
The protection of a valid Geographical indication and the registration procedures for the same is governed by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. The complete registration grants the Applicant of a GI exclusive rights to (1) use the particular GI in relation to the goods to which such GI has been registered, and (2) obtain relief against any infringement or unauthorized use of such GI.
The ultimate purpose of why you should think of getting a GI protection is to assure the quality and consistency of your products by associating it with a permanent territory to the consumers across the world. Thereby, boosting the consumer economy and exchange of genuine consumer products with assured quality and standards.
What can be protected under Geographical Indications?
GIs primarily nurtures and responds to the needs of indigenous local communities and farmers around the world. Thus, GI being a community based Intellectual Property, they are mostly availed with respect to the such goods and products which originates from a definite geographical territory and possesses certain special quality or other reputation associated to such territory. Some of the well-known GIs existing in the world are Darjeeling Tea, Basmati Rice, Swiss Watches, Champagne, Scotch Whiskey, Lucknow Chickan Craft (Chikankari), Bikaneri Bhujia, etc.
Under the Act, the registration of an GI provides for the protection for a period of 10 years. The payment may be renewed from time to time on payment of prescribed fees.
Process for applying for a Geographical indication protection.
GI being a community based Intellectual Property, it grants exclusive rights to a particular community or an association of persons or producers. Thus, for the purpose of Application for registration of a geographical indication, any such organization or authority representing the interest of the producers of the concerned goods needs to make an application to Registrar of Geographical in a prescribed form.
The Application should meet certain essential requirements in order to receive a relevant GI protection. Some of the important requirement which needs to complied are as follows: (1) A statement of case, (2) the class of goods to which the GI is sought, (3) the Geographical map or boundaries of the territory in which the goods originate or are being produced, (4) the particulars of the mark or appearance which is to be used as a GI tag, (5) a statement containing the particulars of the producers of the concerned goods, and (6) such other particular as prescribed under the act.
For the purpose of registration, the Geographical indication registry has been established in Chennai to administer the Geographical Indication Act, 1999, under the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks.
Difference between GIs and Trademarks
GI protection are as important and functional as a Trade mark protection. However, the function of GI protection differs from that of the trade mark at the first place. Trade marks are usually owned by enterprises with the purpose to identify products and services in the market whereas a GI can never be owned by an enterprise. A geographical indication can be used by several enterprises at the same time, provided that the products for which it is used originate in the geographical area to which the indication refers.