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Important Concepts - Geographical Indication (GI)

Important Concepts - Geographical Indication (GI)

Important Concepts - Geographical Indication (GI)
Important Concepts - Geographical Indication (GI)

Reason for Discussion:

Recently many products have been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag. It is currently observe that product face challenges with proceedural complexities in obtaining Geographical Indication (GI), which emphasize the need for improvements in the registration process.

Key Facts:

Geographical indications

◾ GI tag is given to any agricultural, natural or manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) representing a specific region or which is grown or manufactured in a specific area only.

◾ The importance of protection of industrial property and geographical indications as integral components of intellectual property is acknowledged in articles 1(2) and 10 of the Paris Convention, with greater emphasis on its protection.

◾ The international regulatory regime of GI tag at the international level is done under the TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Right-TRIPS) agreement, while at the national level, it is done under the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. The GI tag is issued by the Geographical Indications Registry based in Chennai.

◾ The basis for providing GI (Geographical Indication) is the specific geographical origin, special quality and identity of a product. 

◾ To provide GI tag to a product, it is necessary that "the said product should be produced or processed in the same area for which the GI tag is being obtained."

◾ Some important products of India which have got GI tag - Mahabaleshwar-Strawberry, Jaipur-Blue Pottery, Banarasi Saree, Laddus of Tirupati, Kadaknath Murga of Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh, Painting of Kangra, Orange of Nagpur, Pashmina of Kashmir, Himachal Black cumin, cumin seed of Chhattisgarh and Kandhamal turmeric of Odisha etc.


India's Position with Respect to GI-tag Registration:

◾ According to the GI Registry, till December 2023, only 1,167 applications have been received from India under Intellectual Property, out of which only 547 products have been registered. India lags far behind in terms of GI registrations in terms of applications as compared to other countries.

◾ According to World Intellectual Property Organisation data for the year 2020, Germany leads in terms of GI registrations with 15,566 registered products, followed by China (7,247 products).

◾ Globally, wine and related products account for 51.8% of registered GI products, followed by agricultural products and foods (29.9%).

◾ In terms of nature of products, handicrafts (about 45%) and agriculture (about 30%) constitute the majority of GI products in India.

Barriers Regarding GI Tag in India:

◾ Presently the GI Act, 1999 is not capable of meeting the current challenges and needs amendment to make it contemporary. Along with this, there is a need to simplify the registration form and application processing time for easy compliance of the process.

◾ The current application acceptance ratio of GI indicator in the Indian context is only about 46%. This is mainly due to lack of institutional development which hinders effective implementation of the process. Products often struggle after GI registration due to lack of guidance and support.

◾ Due to vague definition of 'producers' in the GI Act 1999, involvement of middlemen increases. Due to this the expected profit of actual producers is less as compared to middlemen.

◾ In case of some agricultural products like Tea and Basmati rice, disputes like jurisdiction, patent, trademark and copyright open arise and as a result less attention is paid to the development of GI.


Tips for Identifying GI-based Products and their Recommendation:

◾ Government needs to encourage producers to promote GI based products.

◾ 'Non-producers or middlemen' should be eliminated to ensure direct benefits to producers.

◾ Training programs should be organised to connect GI stakeholders with modern technology, skill building and digital literacy.

◾ GI-based product should be promoted through government media.

◾ International focus on GI product by government can boost global presence

◾ Integrating GI with One District One Product scheme will encourage GI products.

◾ Promotion of market outlet schemes by the government, specially rural markets (Gramin Haat), will encourage GI products.

◾ Testing laboratories should be established to ensure consumer confidence in the quality of GI products.

◾ Aligning GI products with startups and linking their performance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can contribute to social development as well as the growth of GI products.


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