Every region has its claim to fame. Christopher Columbus sailed from Europe to chart out a new route to capture the wealth of rich Indian spices. English breeders imported Arabian horses to sire Derby winners. China silk, Dhaka muslin,Venetian Glass all were much sought after treasures. Each reputation was carefully built up and painstakingly maintained by the masters of that region, combining the best of Nature and Man, traditionally handed over from one generation to the next for centuries. Gradually, a specific link between the goods and place of production evolved resulting in growth of Geographical Indications (GIs).
What is a Geographical Indication?
Examples of possible Indian Geographical Indications.
In December 1999, the Parliament had passed the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,1999. This Act seeks to provide for the registration and better protection of geographical indications relating to goods in India. The Act would be administered by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks- who is the Registrar of Geographical Indications. The Geographical Indications Registry would be located at Chennai. The Act has come into force with effect from 15th September 2003.
What is the benefit of registration of geographical indications?
What Indications are not registrable ?
For registrability, the indications must fall within the scope of section 2(1)e of GI Act, 1999. Being so, it has to also satisfy the provisions of section 9, which prohibits registration of a Geographical Indication.
Explanation 1 to section 9 says that for the purposes of this section, “generic names of indications” in relation to goods which although relates to the place of the region where the goods was originally produced or manufactured, has lost its original meaning and has become the common name of such goods and serves as a designation for an indication of the kind, nature, type of other property or characteristic of the goods.
Explanation 2 further says a that “in determining whether the name has become generic, account shall be taken of all factors including the existing situation in the region or place in which the name originates and the area of consumption of the goods.”
Who can apply for the registration of a geographical indication?
Who is a registered proprietor of a geographical indication?
Who is an authorised user?
Who is a producer in relation to a Geographical Indication?
Is a registration of a geographical indication compulsory and how does it help the applicant?
Registration is not compulsory. Registration affords better legal protection to facilitate an action for infringement. The registered proprietor and authorised users can initiate infringement actions. The authorised users can exercise the exclusive right to use the geographical indication.
Who can use the registered geographical indication?
An authorised user has the exclusive rights to the use of geographical indication in relation to goods in respect of which it is registered.
How long the registration of Geographical Indication is valid?
The registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years
Can a Geographical Indication be renewed?
It can be renewed from time to time for further period of 10 years each.
What is the effect if a Geographical Indication is not renewed?
If a registered geographical indication is not renewed it is liable to be removed from the register.
When is a registered Geographical Indication said to be infringed?
When an unauthorised user uses a geographical indication that indicates or suggests that such goods originate in a geographical area other than the true place of origin of such goods in a manner which mislead the public as to the geographical origin of such goods. When the use of geographical indication result in an unfair competition including passing off in respect of registered geographical indication. When the use of another geographical indication results in false representation to the public that goods originate in a territory in respect of which a registered geographical indication relates.
Who can initiate an infringement action?
The registered proprietor or authorised users of a registered geographical indication can initiate an infringement action.
Can a registered geographical indication be assigned, transmitted, etc?
No. A geographical indication is a public property belonging to the producers of the concerned goods. It shall not be the subject matter of assignment, transmission, licensing, pledge, mortgage or such other agreement However, when an authorised user dies, his right devolves on his successor in title.
Can a registered geographical indication or a registered authorised user be removed from the register?
Yes. The Appellate Board or the Registrar of Geographical Indications has the power to remove the geographical indication or an authorised user from the register. Further, on application by an aggrieved person action can be taken.
How a geographical indication is different from a trade mark?
A trade mark is a sign which is used in the course of trade and it distinguishes goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Whereas a geographical indication is an indication used to identify goods having special characteristics originating from a definite geographical territory.