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Geographical Indications Registration Procedure in India

Geographical Indications of Goods are defined as one aspect of industrial property that refers to the geographical indication referring to a country or to a place situated therein as being the country or place of origin of that product. Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to the fact of its origin in that defined geographical locality, region or country.
In India Geographical Indications of goods are protected under Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999 that came into effect from September 15, 2003. As per the Act, the agricultural, natural or manufactured goods originating or manufactured in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin and in cases where such goods are manufactured goods, one of the activities of either production or of processing or preparation of the goods concerned takes place in such territory, region or locality, are registrable as Geographical Indications.
A Geographical Indications Registry with all India Jurisdiction operates in Chennai, as per the Act.
It ensures that genuine products of the rightful producers are marketed and provides for infringement action against unauthorised use of Geographical Indications. The registration under the Act provides the registered proprietor and its authorised users, the legal right to the exclusive use of the GI and also the right to obtain relief in case of its infringement

For registrability, the GI 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.”
Following are the basic requirements for filing of a Geographical Indication application in India:
  1. Name of all the Applicants (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)
  2. List of association of persons/producers/organisation/authority
  3. Nationality
  4. Address of Applicant
  5. Legal status and country of incorporation
  6. Statement as to novelty
  7. Representation/ Copy of Geographical Indication
  8. User date in India (if any)
  9. Three certified copies of the map of the region to which the GI relates
  10. Details of the special characteristics and how those standards are maintained
  11. Details of the inspection structure if any to regulate the use of the GI in the territory to which it relates
  12. Affidavit by association of persons or producers or any organization or authority representing the interest of producers of the concerned goods stating how the applicant claims to represent interest of producers of goods
  13. Power of authority in favour of Indian Attorney/ Advocate, to be stamped in India. It may be filed later (before or along responding to official letter). Notarisation or legalisation is not mandatory
  14. Certified copy of priority document (where priority is claimed)
Pursuant to filing of the application, the content of statement of case is assessed by a consultative group of experts will versed on the subject. They ascertain the correctness of particulars furnished and thereafter an Examination Report is issued. The Application is examined in due course and scrutinized for any deficiencies, which should be remedied within one month from the communication.
If the Registrar has any objection to the application, the objections are communicated to Applicant and the applicant must respond within two months or apply for a hearing. The decision will be duly communicated. If the applicant wishes to appeal, he may within one month make a request. The Registrar is also empowered to withdraw an application, if it is accepted in error, after giving on opportunity of being heard

Every application, within three months of acceptance is published in the Geographical Indications Journal

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. The registrar serves a copy of the notice on the applicant. Within two months from receipt the applicant has to file counterstatement. If he does not do this the Application is deemed to have been abandoned. Where the counter-statement has been filed, the registrar serves a copy on the person giving the notice of opposition. Thereafter, both sides will lead their respective evidences by way of affidavit and supporting documents. A date for hearing of the case will be fixed thereafter for adjudication of opposition

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. The registrar shall issue to the applicant a certificate with the seal of the Geographical indications registry

The term of registration of GI is for 10 years and can be renewed further.
A registration of GI can be renewed further for 10 more years and so on, on payment of renewal fee.
Any person aggrieved by an order or decision may prefer an appeal to the intellectual property appellate board (IPAB) within three months.

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 accompanied with the copy of the notification issued. The application is to be made jointly by the registered proprietor of the Geographical indications in India and by all the producers of the Geographical indication.

Till date total 156 Geographical Indications have been registered in India. The famous Indian products registered with the Geographical Indications (GI) Registry are as follows: Darjeeling Tea (Assam); Kancheepuram silk (Tamil Nadu); Mysore silk (Karnataka); Kullu shawl (Himachal Pradesh); Kangra tea (Himachal Pradesh); Coorg Orange (Karnataka); Mysore sandalwood oil (Karnataka); Tirupathi Laddo (Andhra Pradesh); Feni (Goa); Phulkari (Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan); Konark Stone Carving (Orrisa); Bikaneri Bhujia (Rajasthan); and Kashmiri Pashmina (Jammu & Kashmir

Only Five (5) foreign GI have been registered in India till date and few of famous foreign Geographical Indications registered in India are Champagne (France); NAPA Valley (USA), Scotch Whisky (United Kingdom) and Cognac (France).

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