Geographical Indications in India are regulated by the Geographical
Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 came in force with
effect from September 2003. India had an obligation under TRIPS to pass a law
for protection and regulation of geographical indications. Before this act,
there was no protection in India for geographical indications. The present
geographical indications regime in India is governed by the Geographical
Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 and the Geographical
Indication of Goods (Regulation and Protection) Rules, 2002.
In most cases, a geographical indication consists of the name of the place of
origin of the goods. For example, Champagne, Cognac,, and Darjeeling Tea
in India. These are geographical indications designating the specific
geographical origin from which they originate. Agricultural products typically
have qualities that derive from their place of production and are influenced by
specific local factors, such as climate and soil.
A registered GI is a public property which belongs to the producers of the
goods. It cannot be used for licensing, pledge, mortgage etc. After the demise
of the authorized dealer, his right can be exercised by the successor. It is not
without reason that the place of origin is prefixed before the product; GI tag
surely makes us proud of the various products of our country.
Under the Act, the Controller-General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks under
Department of Industrial Policy and promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry
is the 'Registrar of Geographical indications'. The Controller General of
Patents, Designs & Trade Marks directs and supervises the functioning of the
Geographical Indications Registry (GIR). The Geographical Indications
Registry (GIR) is in Chennai, and it has All-India jurisdiction.
The holder of a registered GI has certain rights and privileges regarding the
goods. By way of registration, the rights holder can prevent unauthorized use of
the GI by others, and also boost the economic well-being of the producers and
manufacturers of the goods produced in a particular region. One important thing
to take note of is that even when the GI is not registered, legal action can be
taken against the infringing parties in a suit of passing off.
Thus, geographical indication in India has both legislative and common law
remedies. Registration of the geographical indication in India is not mandatory.
But it is good to have registration nonetheless, as the certificate of
registration also acts as prima facie evidence.
There are three broad requirements that a particular good should possess to
qualify for GI protection:
- Identification of the good and its particular area of geographical
- It should possess a given quality, reputation or other characteristics,
- Is essentially attributable to its area of geographic origin.
The Register of Geographical Indications is divided into two parts, part A and
Part 'A' consists of particulars relating to registered geographical
Part 'B' consists of particulars of the registered authorized users.
The first step before even contemplating registration of GI and any other
intellectual property is to conduct a prior search on the name, or rather a
clearance search. It is highly recommended to conduct a clearance search. This
search helps to ascertain if the GI is available for registration in India. The
supporting documents along with application have to be filed in the Chennai
office. The rights holder can file a single application for registration of a
geographical indication in different classes of goods as per the prescribed
After the filing of the application, the Examiner in the GI office scrutinizes
the application and the supporting documents to ascertain whether the
requirements of the GI Act and rules are met with or not. The search is very
similar to the search carried out for trademarks. The absolute grounds are based
on the test of whether the geographic indication has become generic or
descriptive. The test of deceptiveness and likelihood of confusion are also
involved, and whether the applied GI is deceptive is any absolute terms is also
looked into by the examiner. The examiner then raises objections to the
registration of the GI.
The applicant is given an opportunity to respond these objections within a given
time frame. And if there is no objection, the geographic indication is
advertised in the Geographic Indication Journal. The said journal is published
once every two months. Any person then can file a Notice of Opposition within a
maximum period of four months of publication in the Journal. In case no
opposition is filed, the geographic indication would proceed for registration
and a registration certificate will be issued and sent to the applicant. The
Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) has appellate jurisdiction over the
Geographic Indication Registry.
If some objections are problems are found in the application, they are forwarded
to the parties so that they have time to prepare in advance. If the applicant
fails to remedy the said objections within one month of the notification, the
application may be treated as abandoned. But the applicant has the right to
request for an extension of one month by filing the appropriate form and paying
the prescribed fee, as mentioned in the GI Rules.
After this is done, the examiner submits the application to the registrar for
his/her considerations. If the geographical indication is opposed, there is a
separate opposition proceeding, wherein the parties can be asked to make
representations before the registrar.
A registered geographical indication is granted for a period of 10 years. For
continued protection, the registration has to be renewed in timely manner.
Subsequent renewal of geographical indications may be concluded within a period
of six months prior to the expiry of the registration. Upon registration, the
details of the geographical indication are entered in Part A of the Geographic
Indication Register and the details of the registered users of that geographic
indication are entered in Part B of the Geographic Indication
Register. Finally, the Registrar of GI publishes all the GI applications in
In India, a huge variety of products have been granted with geographical
protection. One out of such varieties is agricultural products. Such a grant of
geographical indication to agricultural goods helps the agricultural field in
many ways. It protects that particular cultivated area through a legal right and
also enhances the further increasing scope of cultivation of the particular
Written By: Dr Farrukh Khan
- Introduction to Geographical Indications, IPR Toolkit, available at
- Preetha Kadhir, What is the GI tag?, The Hindu, March 11
2013, available at http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-in-school/what-is-the-gi-tag/article4495471.ece
- 'Laws relating to Geographical Indications (GIs)', Business.gov.in,
available at http://business.gov.in/legal_aspects/geographical.php
- Geographical Indications Filing Procedure in India, S.S. Rana &
Co., available at http://www.ssrana.in/Intellectual%20Property/Geograhical%20Indications/GI_Procedure.aspx
- Sumita Singh, Geographical Indications in India: Practice and
Procedure, available at http://www.asialaw.com/Article/1989056/Geographical-Indications-in-India-Practice-and-Procedure.html?Print=true&Single=true
is an Advocate and Managing Partner of Law
Firm- Diwan Advocates. Somya Mishra is an Advocate, working with Diwan Advocates