Acquisition of GIs by more and more Indian products is “a concentrated focus to enhance their market value besides assuring Indian exporters of premium price overseas”.

G. Srinivasan

New Delhi, July 20 After five years of the enactment of the Geographic Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act that came into effect from September 2003, only nine products have been accorded the Geographical Indicator (GI) status while another two are due to get the status from the Registrar of GIs in India.

Official sources told Business Line here though innumerable agricultural, natural and manufactured products ranging from basmati rice, Darjeeling tea, Kanchipuram silk saree, Alphonso mango, Nagpur orange, Kolhapuri chappal to Bikaneri bhujia could form GIs, the registration is not compulsory as it only provides legal protection to Indian GIs.

This in turn helps boost exports, besides promoting economic prosperity of the producer of goods in a geographic territory.

India and Pakistan have resolved to jointly register Basmati abroad to ensure that no spurious or fake rice in such appellation gets into their lucrative overseas market, depriving them of the premium price their basmati rice commands.

Ministry initiative

When contacted, the Minister of State for Commerce, Mr Jairam Ramesh, said that though GIs are not compulsory, his own Ministry has taken the initiative to get registrations of GIs from the Chennai-based Registrar of GIs.

He said that he was happy that though numerous products in India got registered, some of the products that are registered by the commodity boards in his Ministry have bagged the GIs.

These include, among others, he said, Darjeeling tea, Kangra tea of Himachal Pradesh, Malabar pepper, Alleppey coir, Telechery pepper, Alleppy green cardamom, Coorg green cardamom, Monsooned Malabar Arabica and EI leather.

He said both Assam orthodox tea and Nilgiris orthodox tea would shortly get the GI status.

Mr Ramesh said that the Commerce Department has applied for GI to Darjeeling tea in Europe six months ago and hopes to get it within a year. He said the acquisition of GIs by more and more Indian products is “a concentrated focus to enhance their market value besides assuring Indian exporters of premium price overseas”.

Registration

Explaining the slower growth in registration of GIs, the sources said that once an application is made to the registrar, a number is allotted and after which the application gets scanned by a consultative group of experts to ascertain the veracity of claims and to check whether it meets the requirements of the Act and Rules.

After a GI is registered any person claiming to be the producer of the registered GI could file an application for registration as an authorised user. The procedure for registration as an authorised user is similar to that for the registration of a GI.

The sources noted that the registered proprietor and authorised users could initiate infringement action if their GI products are sold without their permission and the authorised users could exercise the exclusives right to use the GIs.

A special link between the goods and place of production is evolved resulting in the growth of GIs, the sources said adding that Indian exporters and traders or those dealing with the traditional Indian goods could surmount the problem of fake or counterfeit goods if only they have armed themselves with GIs registration.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 21, 2008)
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