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Geographical Indications

Written by: Aakarsh Kamra
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Geographical indications means any indications which define the goods as originating in the territory of a country or a region or locality in that territory, provided a given quality reputation or other characteristics of the product are attributable to its geographical origin. this means that the geographical indications has to indicate that a product of a particular origin has a certain quality or reputation or some other characteristics, which is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

Geographical indications are, for purposes of the TRIPS Agreement, a type of intellectual property ("IP"). "Geographical Indications," ("GIs") are defined, under Article 22(1) of the TRIPS Agreement, as "indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin." Geographical indications are valuable to producers from particular regions for the same reasons that trademarks are valuable. First, they are source ;identifiers; they identify goods as originating in a particular territory, or a region or locality in that territory. Geographical indications are also indicators of quality they let consumers know that the goods come from an area where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the goods is essentially attributable to their geographic origin. In addition, GIs are business interests ? GIs exist solely to promote the goods of a particular area. Finally, for purpose of the TRIPS Agreement, GIs are intellectual property, eligible for relief from acts of infringement and/or unfair competition.

Geographical indications are used to indicate the regional origin of particular goods, whether they are agricultural products or manufactured goods ; provided that those goods derive their particular characteristics from their geographic origin. Any producer who meets the standards set by the GI owner can use a GI. In the United States, the owner of a GI can be any legal entity be it a government, an association of producers, or even an individual.

The registration of geographical indications confers certain rights on the registered proprietor and the authorized user and they can institute suit for infringements of geographical indications.
In India some of the examples of geographical indications are :
# Basmati Rice
# Darjeeling Tea
# Kanchipuram Silk Saree
# Alphanso Mango
# Nagpur Orange
# Kolhapuri Chappal
# Bikaneri Bhujia
# Agra Petha
# malabar pepper

Controversy regarding geographical indications arises when names that are protected in one region have a common usage in another. For example, products such as Dijon mustard, Feta cheese, or Basmati rice may be viewed as having obtained a generic status in the marketplace. Thus, some may claim that these names should not belong exclusively to a specific group of producers in a specific geographic location as consumers expect these names to identify a class of product that can be produced in one of many locations. On the other hand, others argue that the products associated with the name have a certain quality that derives from the geographic region and specific production process used. Thus, the protection of the name helps prevent the development of a generic association thereby preserving the ability of the product to be made in the traditional manner. If a geographical term is used as the designation of a kind of product, rather than an indication of the place of origin of that product, this term does no longer function as a geographical indication. Where that has occurred in a certain country over a substantial period of time, that country may recognize that consumers have come to understand a geographical term that once stood for the origin of the product - for example, "Dijon Mustard," a style of mustard originally from the French town of Dijon - to denote now a certain kind of mustard, regardless of its place of production.

Champagne, Florida Oranges, Prosciutto di Parma, and New Zealand Lamb. While most often used on food products, geographical indications can be used to identify any product (e.g., Czech crystal, Swiss watches, Indian carpets. other examples of geographical indications internationally are :Camembert cheese, from camembert, a village in Normandy, France .Champagne, an effervescent wine usually white in colour and made in champagne a former province in north eastern France. parmesan, a variety of cheese originally from Parma in Italy. A trademark is a sign used by an enterprise to distinguish its goods and services from those of other enterprises. It gives its owner the right to exclude others from using the trademark. A geographical indication tells consumers that a product is produced in a certain place and has certain characteristics that are due to that place of production. It may be used by all producers who make their products in the place designated by a geographical indication and whose products share typical qualities.

In India geographical indications are protected and governed by the geographical indications of goods (registration and protection) act 1999.

Under the geographical indications of goods (registration and protection) act 1999 an application can be made for registering a geographical indication by an association of persons or producers or any organization or authority representing the interests of the producers of the goods concerned under section 11 of the act.

The application must contain:
1. a statement of how the geographical indication serves to designate the goods as originating from the concerned territory in respect of the quality, reputation or other characteristics which are due exclusively or essentially to the geographical environment, with its inherent natural, and human factors and the production or processing or preparation of which takes place in such territory or region or locality.

2. the class of goods to which the geographical indication shall apply.

3.the geographical map of the territory of the country or region or locality in the country in which thegoods originate or are being manufactured;

4.the particulars regarding the appearance of the geographical indication as to whether it is comprised of the words or figurative elements or both;

5. a statement containing such particulars of the producers of the concerned goods, if any, proposed to be initially registered with the registration of the geographical indication as may be prescribed; andsuch other particulars as may be prescribed.

After an application for registration is accepted by the registrar and if there has been an opposition which is dismissed the geographical indication shall be registered.

The registration of a geographical indications shall if valid, give to the registered proprietor and the authorized user or users the right to obtain relief in respect of its infringements and to the authorized user the exclusive rights to the use of the geographical indication in relation to the goods in respect of which it is registered. For an unregistered geographical indication only an action of passing off can be taken.

The following geographical indications are prohibited from registration under section 9 of the act:

A geographical indication

1. the use of which would be likely to deceive or cause confusion;
2. the use of which would be contrary to any law for the time being in force ;
3. which comprises or contains scandalous or obscene matter;
4. which comprises or contains any matter likely to hurt the religious susceptibilities of any class or citizens of India.
5. which would be disentitled to protection to protection in the court of law.
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;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, but falsely represent to the persons that the goods originate in another territory, region or locality, as the case may be, shall not be registered as a geographical indication.

Section 18 of the act provides that the registration of a geographical indication shall be for a period of 10 years and shall be renewed for a period of another 10 years on an application made in the prescribed manner and within the prescribed period and subject to the payment of the prescribed fees.

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