Geographical Indications

A geographical indication (GI) is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country). India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 has come into force with effect from 15 September 2003. GIs have been defined under Article 22(1) of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights(TRIPS) Agreement as: “Indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or a locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin.”

The Geographical Indication tag ensures that none other than those registered as authorised users (or at least those residing inside the geographic territory) are allowed to use the popular product name. Darjeeling tea became the first GI tagged product in India, in 2004-05, since then by May 2017, 295 had been added to the list.

The TRIPS prescribes minimum standards of protection of GIs and additional protection for wines and spirits. Articles 22 to 24 of Part II Section III of the TRIPS prescribe minimum standards of protection to the geographical indications that WTO members must provide. India, in compliance with its obligation under TRIPS, has taken legislative measures by enacting the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, which came into effect on 15th September 2003 and the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Rules, 2002.

As per Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 “Geographical Indication”, in relation to goods, means an indication which identifies such goods as agricultural goods, natural goods or manufactured goods as originating, or manufactured in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin and in case where such goods are manufactured goods one of the activities of either the production or of processing or preparation of the goods concerned takes place in such territory, region or locality, as the case may be.

Registration of Geographical Indications
An application for the registration of a GI is to be made to the Registrar of Geographical Indications in the form prescribed under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 read with the Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Rules, 2002.

Duration of Protection
A Geographical Indication is registered for a period of 10 years and the registration may be renewed from time to time for a period of 10 years at a time.

Infringement of Geographical Indications
The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999,states that falsification of a Geographical Indication will carry a penalty with imprisonment for a term which may not be less than six months but may extend to three years and with a fine which may not be less than Rs 50,000 (approx. US$ 800) but may extend to Rs 2,00,00.

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