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Proposal

GIs stand out as the only instance with respect to intellectual property rights where a substantial number of Southern members of the World Trade Organisation demand stronger protection. For these countries, GIs are seen as a means for protecting long-established cultural repertoires of production; thus, potentially beneficial for sectors like handicrafts, cottage industries and agriculture. India has been a constant advocate for stronger protection at the TRIPs Council, having been equally galvanised by local demand (e.g. Feni producers) and export revenues (e.g. Basmati rice and Darjeeling tea).

 

The proposed research is motivated by an aim to understand how GIs can localise economic control. In particular, this draws our attention to issues related to defining the protected product where opportunities exist for strongly tying production and processing to a particular territory. Equally, the proposed research is fascinated by the puzzle of ‘How different actors cooperate to form a GI-club?’ Members of a GI-club are interdependent: the reputation embedded in the indication is collectively on account of and simultaneously accrues to all club-members in the geographical region. However, despite this interdependence, club members compete with each other: “horizontally” for market shares (e.g. competition between distillers) and “vertically” for share of the rents (e.g. competition between distiller and a retailer). It is with this dimension to the collective action problem that the research will explore the following questions:

 

  • What role do differentially endowed and interested actors play in the process of re-codifying the rules of the club?
  • What are the problems faced in actualising the potential of GIs for localising economic control?

     

The project will involve desk-based research where significant attention will be devoted to studying case law in the area of GIs. A baseline survey of the industry will be conducted by a local partner, Shodh. Fieldwork, over a three to four month period, involves semi-structured interviews and focus groups with a random sample of actors across the supply chain. A stakeholder meeting at the end of field work will allow for initial insights to be discussed. Two project disseminations meetings, one in Goa and one in Geneva, will occur towards the end of the research to share the findings and distribute the final report. Details will be made available here.

The project will produce a variety of outputs that includes a final report and a policy brief. In addition, there will be a number of journal articles and articles in popular media. These outputs, once completed, will be available here.The project team is led by the principal investigator, Dwijen Rangnekar, and includes a Research Assistant, VC Namballa – a PhD candidate in the School of Law. A local partner, Shodh, with Rucha Ghate and Pranab Mukhopadhyay, will conduct the baseline survey. A Research Advisory Group, consisting of scholars, local and national government representatives, policy analysts and multilateral organisation bureaucrats, has been constituted to monitor and evaluate the research.

 

For more information about the project contact Dwijen Rangnekar.