Geographical Indication“Champagne” is a geographical name the denominates the sparkling wine produced in the Champagne District of France & “Basmati” is a symbol which stands for some particular varieties of slender, long-grained, aromatic from the Greater Punjab region, now divided between India and Pakistan But why are these names important?

In respect of any agricultural goods, natural goods or manufactured goods or any goods of handicraft or goods of industry including, food stuff there is no specific law governing geographical indications of such goods, which could adequately protect the interests of producers of such goods. To prevent  unauthorized person from misusing geographical indications would protect consumers form deception and would add to the economic prosperity of the producers of such goods and would also promote  goods bearing Indian Geographical Indications in the export market. Geographical Indication is an intellectual property right equal to trade marks, designs or patents. In 1994, when negotiations on the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) were concluded, governments of all Member Countries of WTO had agreed to set certain basic standards for the protection of Geographical Indications in all member countries. The Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act was passed in 1994 (Act No.48 of 1999). Sec 2(1)(e) of Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 defines that the “Geographical Indication” , in relations to goods, means an indication which identifies such goods as agricultural goods, natural goods or manufactured goods as originating, or manufacture in the territory of country, or a region or locality in that   territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic 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.

Geographical Indication Geographical Indication can also be defined as a sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possesses qualities or a reputation that is due to that place of origin. Geographical indications generally refer to any indication that identifies a goods as originating from a particular place, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of the goods are essentially attributable to its geographical origin. Geographical indications need not always be geographical names (such as, name of a town, a region or a country) to designate the origin of goods to which they are attached, but may consist of symbols as well. For instance, “Champagne” is a geographical name the denominates the sparkling wine produced in the Champagne District of France , but “Basmati” is a symbol which stands for some particular varieties of slender, long-grained, aromatic rice produced in the Greater Punjab region, now divided between India and Pakistan.

Geographical indication can be used for different kinds of goods, that is to say, agricultural, natural or manufactured , some examples of geographical indications are: Darjeeling Tea, Alfanso Mango, Basmati, Kanjovaram Silk, Banarasi Saree etc.

Characteristics of Geographical Indications: following are characteristics of geographical indications:

Geographical indications identify the specific geographical origin of a product and the associated qualities, reputation or other characteristics. They usually consist of the name of the place of origin.

Agricultural and foodstuffs sometimes have qualities that derive from their place of production and local environmental factors.

Geographical indications are understood by consumers to denote the origin and quality of the product.  Geographical indications acquired valuable reputations which if not adequately protected may be misrepresented  by dishonest commercial operators.

Functions of Geographical Indications:

Basically, geographical indications have three functions. They provide information about-

The name of a product, The geographical origin of the product , and A given quality, reputation or characteristics essentially attributable to a geographical area. The economic function of geographical

The economic function of geographical indications is much the same as that of trade marks.

First, there exists related goodwill.

Secondly, they establish and protect market identity, by distinguishing the goods bearing a geographical indication from same or similar goods of a different geographical origin, though this distinctiveness is on a collective rather than on individual level.

This does not mean that geographical indications are not private rights like all other categories of intellectual property. Geographical indications are used collectively by several private persons engaged into production of goods bearing geographical indication. Like in thecase of trade marks, the use of geographical indication permits the consumer to associate a name or other sign to directly unobservable attributes of a product. From the legal point of view geographical indications share many properties with trade marks, such as distinctiveness, non-deceptiveness and unlimited duration of protection.

Like in the case of trade marks, the use of geographical indication permits the consumer to associate a name or other sign to directly unobservable attributes of a product

Geographical indications are not a collective trademark, such a ‘Reliance’, but it identifies particular goods as originating from a certain territory.

From the commercial point of view, geographical indication is closely relate to their function as individualizing symbols of goods of a specific geographic  origin, and their value in marketing. The traditional function of geographical indication is principally to serve as a designation of origin. The geographical indication immediately involves association with the geographical origin of the product. It is association to the place of origin that individuals the product.

Geographical indications are understood by consumers to denote the origin and quality of products. Many of them have acquired valuable reputations which, if not adequately protected may be misrepresented by dishonest commercial operators.

Distinction between Geographical Indications and Trade Mark

A trade mark is a sign affiliated with or used by a manufactured or an enterprise to distinguish its goods or services from those of others. It implies certain amount of human creativity. It gives its owner the right to exclude others from using that trade mark. Geographical indications are also a sign which indicates to the consumers the quality, reputation and other characteristics of the goods coming from a defined area, i.e. the place of origin. It may be used by all produces who make their products in the place designated by a Geographical indication and whose products share specified qualities.

A trade mark often consists of fanciful name or device.The name used as a Geographical indication is pre- determined by the name of the place of origin. There is no originality or invention or discovery involved and the Geographical indications may depend on traditional knowledge for that product development or on the talent of the craftsman. The development of Geographical indications is a time-tested process and to carve an aurora about the product it takes decades if not centuries. Geographical indications create a positive impression of product quality, the environment virtue and human skill of the area.

Geographical indications are not a collective mark as use of the trade mark “JP” or “Reliance” is reserved for use by members of “JP” or “Reliance”, but it identifies particular goods as origination in a certain territory of a country, or region or locality of a county where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of the goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin comprising natural environment and human factors.

Dr. Sailaja Petikam

5 thoughts on “Geographical Indication”

  1. lalit says:

    good one

  2. wassim says:

    nice article

  3. veena says:

    Well written

  4. yash says:

    Very informative

  5. anurag says:

    thanks for sharing

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