- India realized the need to protect its indigenous, unique, and reputed products through GI when an American company was given a patent of Basmati rice, and India had to resort to an expensive procedure of challenging the patent in the US court of law.
- This necessitated India to enact the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 in 2003 to give protection for GI through sui generis legislation.
- To facilitate this process, the Geographical Indications Registry of India was set up in Chennai.
- Darjeeling tea was the first Indian product that was awarded the GI tag in 2004 for its naturally occurring quality, flavor, and market potential.
Arriving at GI framework
- The present international framework on the Geographical Indications (GIs) derives its strength from Article 22 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.
- It defines GIs 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 characteristics of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin’.
- GI are also covered as an element of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) under Articles 1(2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.
What is Geographical Indication (GI)?
- GI is not a property right given to an individual to use it, rather it is attributed to goods or services specific to a region which allows every producer in the specified region to use the said GI.
- It is applicable as long as the quality of the GI goods is similar to the specified qualities of the identified product of the said region.
- This mandates member countries to provide for the protection of all GIs, where the obligation is for the members to provide the’ legal means for interested parties’, to secure protection of their GIs.
Need for GI
In general, GIs backed up by solid business management can bring competitive advantage by:
- More added value to a product
- Increased export opportunities
- Strengthened brand of produce
- Protect Indian products
- Better price and branding
- Recognition of uniqueness
Initiatives taken by India
In a bid to popularize India’s GI-tagged products and works of artisans, the government is aiming to market the products in international markets.
- GI Logo and taglines: While launching the new logo for the GI products, a new tagline for promotion ‘Invaluable Treasure of Incredible India’ has been selected.
- Marketing: The Ministry of Commerce is working with the Ministry of Civil Aviation as well as the Ministry of Railway to arrange a display for GI-tagged products.
- Dedicated GI stores: India’s very first GI Store of Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI) was launched in 2019, at the departure terminal of Goa.
- Export promotion: India’s Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2021-2026, which targets to achieve the exports value to USD 1.0 trillion by 2025, has recognized GI-tagged Agri commodities as one of the growth drivers.
- Various exemptions: Another small but important step to boost indigenous toys production to support artisans and MSMEs is the government adopting Toys (Quality Control) Second Amendment Order, 2020 which exempts goods manufactured and sold by artisans and those registered as GI from Quality Control Orders.
- Buyer-Seller Meets: Many agencies as well as the State governments are now frequently organizing Buyer-Seller Meet with a specific focus on GI-tagged products.
- Awareness: There is a need to prepare a strategy to raise awareness about various GI products, and the difference between GI and non-GI products amongst local farmers, consumers, and other relevant stakeholders.
- Promotions through policy input: The Central Government needs to come out with some long-term policy to provide Indian GI products an assured domestic as well as international market.
- FPOs promotion: The Central Sector Scheme of promotion and nurturing of 10,000 Agri-based Farmers Producers Organisations (FPOs), is being implemented through three national agencies, NABARD, SFAC, and NCDC, and a few other agencies.
- Cluster approach: Ex. One District One Product (ODOP) has been adopted to increase value addition, marketing, and exports which will benefit small, marginal, and landless farmers by giving access to technological inputs, finances, and better markets and prices for their crops.
- Necessary infrastructure: The government needs to make efforts for creating required infrastructures such as customs clearance facilities, laboratory testing facilities, pack-houses, and pre-cooling facilities, which would harness and boost the exports potential of GI products.
- Despite GI tagging, the commercial performance of many GI products is not up to the mark, even in the domestic market.
- Therefore, the govt may identify such product-place clusters and evaluate them commercially to develop them in their entirety.
- Setting up an incubation centre for helping users/farmers/entrepreneurs for obtaining GI and traceability solutions of their produce may help GI products to grow.