A case for removal of the GI entries seems to have been mounted on the basis of lack of proper credentials of the applicant as rightful owner of GI.

Vinson Kurian

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec. 19

The office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks, has taken cognisance of two petitions for ‘rectification' and possible removal of Geographical Indication (GI) tags with respect to two entries in the GI Registry.

These are Darjeeling Tea (word and logo) that appears as entry No 1 and 2 on the Registry and Tirupathi Laddu as No 121, according to Mr P. H. Kurian, Controller of Patents, Designs and Trademarks.

Mr Kurian told Business Line on Thursday that the applications have been forwarded to the GI Registry at the Intellectual Property office in Chennai for further action. Concerned parties would be given a hearing and the matter settled in a judicious manner in due course, he added.

A case for removal of the GI entries seems to have been mounted on the basis of lack of proper credentials of the applicant as the rightful owner of the GI.

Section 11(1) of the Geographical Indication of Goods Act, 1999, says that any such application should originate from association of persons or producers, or any organisation or authority established by or under law for the time being in force representing the interest of the producers of the concerned goods.

GI OWNER

Those desirous of registering a geographical indication in relation to such goods shall apply in writing to the Registrar in such form and in such manner and accompanied by such fees as may be prescribed for the registration of the geographical indication.

In the case of Darjeeling Tea, the registration has been challenged on the ground that the Tea Board cannot be GI owner as it does not part of its value chain and/or its producer.

Constituted under the Tea Act, 1935, the Tea Board is a statutory body meant to regulate its exports and trade.

In the case of Tirupathi Laddu, it was the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) that had moved the application for GI entry.

ABSOLUTE MONOPOLY

The rectification plea in this case was moved by Mr R.S. Praveen Raj, Scientist, IP management and Technology transfer and R&D with the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, and a former examiner of Patents and Designs at India Patents Office.

Mr Raj cited from the GI application published in the Geographical Indication Journal No 28 from page 38 to page 66, in which the TTD had stated that it had absolute monopoly over the production of Tirupathi Laddu.

The laddus are, in fact, made by workers of the temple (TTD employees) and hired labour, but the application does not list any other beneficiary than the TTD.

“The crux of the matter referenced above lies in the interpretation of Section 11(1) of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, as to whether the GI applicant represents the ‘interest of the producers,' Mr Raj said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 20, 2010)
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