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What is Geographical Indication?

  1. It is an indication.
  2. It originates from a definite geographical territory.
  3. It is used to identify agricultural, natural or manufactured goods.
  4. The manufactured goods should be produced or processed or prepared in that territory.
  5. It should have a special quality or reputation or other characteristics

What do we mean by GI or Geographical Indiacation?

The Geographical Indications Act affords protection to goods that can be identified as originating or manufactured in the territory of a country or a region or locality in that territory where a given quantity, reputation or other characteristic of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical conditions. In the case where such goods are manufactured goods, one of the activities of production or of processing or preparation at goods concerned takes place in such territory or locality as the case may be. The term is initially for a period of 10 years and can be renewed from time to time.

What protection I get?

Geographical names and other terms associating a product with a particular place have great commercial importance for the consumer, who often makes choices on the basis of such indications. Therefore national, international and community jurisdictions provide for the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin.

What is the concept of INDICATION AND ORIGIN?

Specific legal acts vary in their definition of the terms "geographical indications and designations of origin". According to the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, "geographical indications" are indications that identify a product as originating from the territory of a State that is party to the Agreement, or from a region or from a place located in the territory, if a specific quality, reputation, or other characteristics of the product is essentially attributable to its geographical origin. Under Council Regulation (EC) No 510/2006

  1. designation of origin" (named as PDO) means the name of a region, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, a country, used to describe an agricultural product or a foodstuff:
  2. originating in that region, specific place or country,
  3. The quality or characteristics of which are essentially or exclusively due to a particular geographical environment with its inherent natural and human factors, and
  4. The production, processing and preparation of which take place in the defined geographical area;
  5. "geographical indication" (named as PGI) means the name of a region, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, a country, used to describe an agricultural product or a foodstuff:
  6. Originating in that region, specific place or country, and
  7. Which possesses a specific quality, reputation or other characteristics attributable to that geographical origin, and
  8. The production and/or processing and/or preparation of which take place in the defined geographical area.

Who are protected under Geographical Indication?

Geographical indications and designations of origin protect:

  1. The interests of entrepreneurs who offer goods that bear marks indicating which geographical region they come from,
  2. Consumers from being mislead as to the origin of goods and their quality (their attributes and characteristics).

Regulation 510/2006 protects geographical indications and designations of origin that mark agricultural products and foodstuffs. The indications which are used on industrial products and services are protected by the Paris Convention, the TRIPS Agreement and national legislations.

What is legal protection?

Under Regulation 510/2006, designations of origin are protectable when all stages of making a product (an agricultural product or a foodstuff) take place in one and the same geographical area to which the indication pertains.

Geographical indications enjoy protection when at least one stage of production of the product takes place in the territory concerned.

It is also possible to protect so-called "indirect geographical indications of origin", i.e. traditional (geographical or non-geographical) names indicating that products originate from a particular region or a specific place, under the condition that they fulfil the requirements foreseen to PDO or PGI.

Who can apply?

Under Regulation 510/2006, the following are entitled to apply for a registration of a geographical indication or a designation of origin:

  1. Any association (irrespective of its legal form or composition) of producers or processors working with the same agricultural product or foodstuff,
  2. Natural or legal persons (in exceptional cases).

Designations of origin and geographical indications are protectable if they have been entered in the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications. The register is maintained by the European Commission

Procedure for registration of GI

Under Regulation 510/2006, there are usually two stages in the registration procedure, namely:

  1. The procedure before an authorized national body (bodies) of an EU Member State (which is used when the application concerns a geographical area located in the specific Member State) and
  2. The procedure before the European Commission.

If the application concerns a geographical area located in a country which is not an EU Member State, it is forwarded to the Commission directly or through competent authorities.

If the application is admissible, protection is granted for a geographical indication or a designation of origin.
A refusal to register by the European Commission can be appealed before the European Court of Justice.

Who can use GI?

A registered geographical indication or designation of origin may be used by any member of marketing agricultural product or foodstuffs conforming to the corresponding specification. It includes among others: a product or foodstuff description (eg. the raw materials), a definition of the geographical area, evidence that the agricultural product or the foodstuff originates in the defined geographical area, a description of the production method.

These members enjoy an exclusive right to the designation or indication. Producers and their products are subject to control by appropriate bodies verifying that the products comply with the requirements set in the specification

Community protection of geographical indication and/ or designation of origin prevent national protection. Under Regulation 510/2006, where a designation of origin or geographical indication has been entered into the Register of Protected Designations of Origin and Protected Geographical Indications (Community protection), the designation or geographical indication cannot be simultaneously protected by national law.

Protection of geographical indication and/ or designation of origin of wines and spirits: Special regulations apply to geographical indication and designation of origin of wines and spirits. Therefore, the rules of protection specified in Regulation 510/2006 do not apply to the protection of such marks. The law for the method of marking and protecting quality wines, table wines with geographical indications and wines marked with the v.q.p.r.d. acronym is laid down in Council Regulation (EC) No 1493/1999 of 17 May 1999 on the common organization of the market in wine.

Members of the TRIPS Agreement (including the EU) should guarantee legal measures to prevent the use of geographical indications for wines and spirits that do not originate from places to which the respective geographical indications pertain. This obligation exists - as a rule - even if the true origin of the goods is indicated or the geographical indication is used in translation, or is accompanied by an expression like "a kind of", "a type of", "quality of", etc. However, the TRIPS Agreement provides numerous exceptions to this rule.

What is registration process?

STEP 1 : Filing of application

Please check whether the indication comes within the ambit of the definition of a Gl under section 2(1)(e).

The association of persons or producers or any organization or authority should represent the interest of producers of the concerned goods and should file an affidavit how the applicant claims to represent their interest.

  1. Application must be made in triplicate.
  2. The application shall be signed by the applicant or his agent and must be accompanied by a statement of case.
  3. Details of the special characteristics and how those standards are maintained.
  4. Three certified copies of the map of the region to which the GI relates.
  5. Details of the inspection structure if any to regulate the use of the GI in the territory to which it relates.
  6. Give details of all the applicant together with address. If there is a large number of producers a collective reference to all the producers of the goods may be made in the application and the G.I., If registered will be indicated accordingly in the register.

The applicant must have an address for service in India. Generally, application can be filed by (1) a legal practitioner (2) a registered agent.

STEP 2 and 3: Preliminary scrutiny and examination

  1. The Examiner will scrutinize the application for any deficiencies.
  2. The applicant should within one month of the communication in this regard, remedy the same.
  3. The content of statement of case is assessed by a consultative group of experts will versed on the subject.
  4. The will ascertain the correctness of particulars furnished.
  5. Thereafter an Examination Report would be issued.

STEP 4: Show cause notice

  1. If the Registrar has any objection to the application, he will communicate such objection.
  2. The applicant must respond within two months or apply for a hearing.
  3. The decision will be duly communicated. If the applicant wishes to appeal, he may within one month make a request.
  4. The Registrar is also empowered to withdraw an application, if it is accepted in error, after giving on opportunity of being heard.

STEP 5: Publication in the geographical indications Journal

Every application, within three moths of acceptance shall be published in the Geographical Indications Journal.

STEP 6: Opposition to Registration

  1. Any person can file a notice of opposition within three months (extendable by another month on request which has to be filed before three months) opposing the GI application published in the Journal.
  2. The registrar shall serve a copy of the notice on the applicant.
  3. Within two months the applicant shall sent a copy of the counterstatement.
  4. If he does not do this be shall be deemed to have abandoned his application. Where the counter-statement has been filed, the registrar shall serve a copy on the person giving the notice of opposition.
  5. Thereafter, both sides will lead their respective evidences by way of affidavit and supporting documents.
  6. A date for hearing of the case will be fixed thereafter.

STEP 7: Registration

  1. Where an application for a GI has been accepted, the registrar shall register the geographical indication. If registered the date of filing of the application shall be deemed to be the date of registration.
  2. The registrar shall issue to the applicant a certificate with the seal of the Geographical indications registry.

STEP 8: Renewal

A registered GI shall be valid for 10 years and can be renewed on payment of renewal fee.

STEP 9: Additional protection to notified goods

Additional protection for notified goods is provided in the Act.

STEP 10: Appeal

Any person aggrieved by an order or decision may prefer an appeal to the intellectual property appellate board (IPAB) within three months. The address of the IPAB is as follows:

Intellectual Property Appellate Board
Annexe 1, 2 nd Floor, Guna Complex,
443, Anna Salai, Chennai – 600 018

What Indications are not registrable ?

For registrability, the indications must fall within the scope of section 2(1)e of GI Act, 1999. Being so, it has to also satisfy the provisions of section 9, which prohibits registration of a Geographical Indication

  1. the use of which would be likely to deceive or cause confusion; or
  2. the use of which would be contrary to any law for the time being in force; or
  3. which comprises or contains scandalous or obscene matter; or
  4. which comprises or contains any matter likely to hurt the time being in force; religious susceptibilities of any class or section of the citizens of India; or
  5. which would otherwise be disentitled to protection in a court; or
  6. which are determined to be generic names or indications of goods and are, therefore, not or ceased to be protected in their country of origin or which have fallen into disuse in that country; or
  7. which although literally true as to the territory region or locality in which the goods originate, but falsely represent to the persons that the goods originate in another territory, region or locality as the case may be.

Explanation 1 to section 9 says that for the purposes of this section, “generic names of indications” in relation to goods which although relates to the place of the region where the goods was originally produced or manufactured, has lost its original meaning and has become the common name of such goods and serves as a designation for an indication of the kind, nature, type of other property or characteristic of the goods.

Explanation 2 further says a that “in determining whether the name has become generic, account shall be taken of all factors including the existing situation in the region or place in which the name originates and the area of consumption of the goods.”

Additional protection to certain goods

  1. An application may be made to the registrar in respect of goods notified by the central Government for additional protection for a registered geographical indication in Form GI-9 accompanied in triplicate along with a statement of case and shall be accompanied with the copy of the notification issued.
  2. The application shall be made jointly by the registered proprietor of the Geographical indications in India and by all the producers of the Geographical indication.
  1. The Affidavits required by the Act and the rules to be filed at the Geographical indications Registry or furnished to the Registrar, unless otherwise provided in the matter or matters to which they relate, paragraphs consecutively numbered, and each paragraph shall as far as practicable be confined to one subject. Every affidavit shall state the description and the true place of abode of the person filing it and shall state on whose behalf it is filed.
  2. Affidavits shall be taken-

    a.In India-before any court or person having by law authority to receive evidence, or before any officer empowered by such court as aforesaid to administer oaths or to take affidavit,
    b.in any country or place outside India before a diplomatic or consular Officers (Oaths and Fee) Act, 1948, or such country or place, or before a notary public or before a judge or magistrate of the country or place.

  3. Where the deponent is illiterate blind or unacquainted with the language in which the affidavit is written a certificate by the person taking the affidavit that the affidavit has read translated or explained in his presence to the deponent made his signature or mark in his presence shall appear in the jurat.
  4. Every affidavit filed before the Registrar in connection with any of the proceedings under the Act or the rules shall be duly stamped under the law for the time being in force.
    Inspection of Documents by the Public
  5. 1. The documents mentioned in sub-section (1) of section 78 shall be available for inspection at the Head Office of the Geographical indications registry.
    2. A copy of the register and such of the other documents mentioned in section 78, as the Central Government may by inspection at each branch office of the Geographical Indications Registry as and when established.
    3. The inspection shall be an payment of the prescribed free and at such times on all the days on which the offices of the Geographical Indications Registry are not closed to the public as may be fixed by the registrar.
    4. Distribution of copies of journal and other documents. The Central Government may direct the Registrar
    to distribute the necessary to such places as may be fixed by the Central Government in consultation with the State Government and notified form time to time in the Official Gazette.
    The above information is also available on official website of Government of India. www.ipindia.nic.in