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The locus of Registered Proprietor to Institute Suit in Geographical Indication Infringement Cases

The protection and enforcement of GIs are pivotal to safeguarding regional specialties from unauthorized use or imitation. A recent judgment by the Hon'ble High Court of Madhya Pradesh delineates the contours of the locus of a Registered Proprietor (RP) to initiate legal proceedings concerning GI infringement. This article elucidates the intricacies of the judgment and its implications on GI protection jurisprudence.

The Plaintiff sought protection for its GI Application No. 151 concerning Scotch Whisky under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. However, the Ld. Trial Court, invoking Order 7 Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), rejected the plaint due to the non-impleadment of an Authorized User (AU). The order, dated 28.10.2021, in CS no. 07/2020 from the Commercial Court in District Indore, became the subject of scrutiny before the Hon'ble High Court.

High Court's Analysis:
Interpretation of Order 7 Rule 11 CPC:

The Hon'ble High Court meticulously analyzed Order 7 Rule 11 CPC and categorically stated that the non-joinder or joinder of necessary parties does not serve as a ground for the outright rejection of a plaint. The court emphasized that procedural aspects like joinder/non-joinder can be addressed at subsequent stages of the trial, ensuring that mere procedural irregularities do not stifle substantive rights.

Locus of Registered Proprietor:
Delving into the Geographical Indications Act, 1999, and the accompanying Rules of 2002, the High Court elucidated the pivotal role of the Registered Proprietor. The court underscored that the genesis of a GI tag emanates from the application of the Registered proprietor or another applicant, emphasizing that the Registered proprietor stands distinct and independent of the Authorized User . The court's observation elucidates that while the RP can act independently, they must be kept informed regarding any additions or alterations concerning the AU in the GI register.

Independence of RP (Registered Proprietor) vis-�-vis AU (Authorized User):
The judgment significantly underscores the autonomy and distinct identity of the RP concerning the GI Act. The RP's capacity to institute actions, including renewal or seeking additional protection, reinforces their pivotal role in ensuring the integrity and protection of the geographical indication.

Implications and Conclusion:
The judgment by the Hon'ble High Court of Madhya Pradesh accentuates the pivotal role of the Registered Proprietor in the realm of Geographical Indications. By emphasizing the RP's autonomy and independent locus to institute legal proceedings, the court fortifies the legislative intent behind the GI Act, ensuring robust protection against infringements.

The Concluding Note:
In conclusion, the judgment reaffirms the foundational principles underpinning GI protection in India, ensuring that the interplay between substantive rights and procedural compliance strikes a harmonious balance, fortifying the protection accorded to regional specialties and upholding the sanctity of Geographical Indications.

The Case Law Discussed:
Case Title: Scotch Whisky Association Vs J K Enterprises
Date of Judgement/Order:18.12.2023
Case No. Misc. Petition No. 4543 of 2021
Neutral Citation: N.A.
Name of Hon'ble Court: Madhya Pradesh High Court [Indore Bench]
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Sushrut Arvind Dharmadhikari and Hirdesh, HJ

Ideas, thoughts, views, information, discussions and interpretation expressed herein are being shared in the public Interest. Readers' discretion is advised as these are subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue involved herein.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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