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Frequently asked questions on GI

Government of India, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion: Frequently Asked Questions on Geographical Indications

In December 1999, the Parliament had passed the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. This Act seeks to provide for the registration and better protection of geographical indications relating to goods in India. The Act would be administered by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks- who is the Registrar of Geographical Indications. The Geographical Indications Registry would be located at Chennai. 

1.                  What is a Geographical Indication?

It is an indication

It originates from a definite geographical territory.

Is used to identify agricultural, natural or manufactured goods

The manufactured goods should be produced or processed or prepared in that territory.

It should have a special quality or reputation or other characteristics  

2.                  Examples of possible Indian Geographical Indications.

Basmati Rice

Darjeeling Tea

Kanchipuram Silk Saree

Alphanso Mango

Nagpur Orange

Kolhapuri Chappal

Bikaneri Bhujia

Agra Petha 

3.      What is the benefit of registration of geographical indications?  

It confers legal protection to Geographical Indications in India

Prevents unauthorised use of a Registered Geographical Indication by others

It provides legal protection to Indian Geographical Indications which in turn could also boost exports.

It promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods produced in a geographical territory. 

4.      Who can apply for the registration of a geographical indication? 

Any association of persons, producers, organisation or authority established by or under the law can  apply:

The applicant must represent the interest of the producers

The application should be in writing in the prescribed form

The application should be addressed to the Registrar of Geographical Indications along with prescribed fee.

5.      Who is a registered proprietor of a geographical indication? 

Any association of persons, producers, organisation or authority established by or under the law can be a registered proprietor.

Their name should be entered in the Register of Geographical Indication as registered proprietor for the Geographical Indication applied for. 

6.      Who is an authorised user?

A producer of goods can apply for registration as an authorised user

It must be in respect of a registered geographical indication

He should apply in writing in the prescribed form along with prescribed fee 

7.      Who is a producer in relation to a Geographical Indication? 

The persons dealing with three categories of goods are covered under the term Producer:

Agricultural Goods includes the production, processing, trading or dealing

Natural Goods includes exploiting, trading or dealing

Handicrafts or Industrial goods include making, manufacturing, trading or dealing.

8.      Is a registration of a geographical indication compulsory and how does it help the applicant?

Registration is not compulsory

Registration affords better legal protection to facilitate an action for infringement

The registered proprietor and authorised users can initiate infringement actions

The authorised users can exercise the exclusive right to use the geographical indication. 

9.      Who can use the registered geographical indication? 

An authorised user has the exclusive rights to the use of geographical indication in relation to goods in respect of which it is registered. 

10. How long is the registration of Geographical Indication valid?

The registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years. 

11. Can a Geographical Indication be renewed?

It can be renewed from time to time for further period of 10 years each. 

12. What is the effect if a Geographical Indication if it is not renewed? 

If a registered geographical indication is not renewed it is liable to be removed from the register. 

13.When is a registered Geographical Indication said to be infringed?

When an unauthorised user uses a geographical indication that indicates or suggests that such goods originate in a geographical area other than the true place of origin of such goods in a manner which mislead the public as to the geographical origin of such goods.

When the use of geographical indication result in an unfair competition including passing off in respect of registered geographical indication.

When the use of another geographical indication results in false representation to the public that goods originate in a territory in respect of which a registered geographical indication relates. 

14.Who can initiate an infringement action? 

The registered proprietor or authorised users of a registered geographical indication can initiate an infringement action. 

15.Can a registered geographical indication be assigned, transmitted, etc?

No. A geographical indication is a public property belonging to the producers of the concerned goods.

It shall not be the subject matter of assignment, transmission, licensing, pledge, mortgage or such other agreement

However, when an authorised user dies, his right devolves on his successor in title.

16.Can a registered geographical indication or a registered authorised user be removed from the register? 

Yes. The Appellate Board or the Registrar of Geographical Indications has the power to remove the geographical indication or an authorised user from the register. Further, on application by an aggrieved person action can be taken. 

17.How a geographical indication is different from a trade mark?

A trade mark is a sign which is used in the course of trade and it distinguishes goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises.

Whereas a geographical indication is an indication used to identify goods having special characteristics originating from a definite geographical territory.

(From, Government of India, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion,