Geographical Indication Tag

Context: Recently, the Geographical Indications Registry in Chennai has given tags to seven different products from Uttar Pradesh.
Probable Question: Q.  What are some of the challenges faced in implementing and managing the Geographical Indication (GI) tag system in India?
More on News:
  • Amroha Dholak, Mahoba Gaura Patthar Hastashlip, Mainpuri Tarkashi, Sambhal Horn Craft, Baghpat Home Furnishings, Barabanki Handloom Product, and Kalpi Handmade Paper are the products that been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
About Geographical Indication Tag:
  • A Geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • Geographical Indications are covered as a component of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.
  • Geographical indications are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts, and industrial products.
  • The first product in India to be accorded with GI tag was Darjeeling tea in the year 2004-05.

Image Credits: Times of India

Process Governing GI Tag:
  • International Level: At the International level, GI is governed by the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
  • National Level: In India, Geographical Indications registration is administered by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 which allowed India to join the WTO and sign the convention.
  •  A GI registration is given to an area, not a trader, but once a product gets the registration, traders dealing in the product can apply for selling it with the GI logo.
Note: A GI registry has been set up under the Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks to administer the GI of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, which protects the GI of goods.
Methods to Protect a Geographical Indication:
  • Sui generis systems (i.e. special regimes of protection): A “sui generis” system means “one that is of its own kind”. In this case, it refers to the creation of a new national law or the establishment of international norms that would afford protection to intellectual property dealing with genetic resources.
  • Using collective or certification marks such as Trademarks.
Benefits of GI Tag:
  • International Trade: GIs open doors of international trade by protecting products’ names and reputation in foreign markets which in turn increase exports.
  • Reputation & Trust: By establishing a reputation for quality and authenticity, GI tagging helps in bringing an instant confidence amongst consumers. The association of a specific region with the product adds value and establishes instant trust, loyalty, and reputation.
  • Market Differentiation: Offering valuable opportunities for businesses to differentiate their products in the marketplace, GIs highlight the uniqueness and qualities of the product.
  • Tourism and Destination Marketing: Unique regional products attract visitors seeking authentic experiences, fostering economic growth and cultural exchange. Thereby, GIs can serve as drivers of tourism and destination marketing.
  • Legal Protection to the Products: GI Tag prevents unauthorized use of GI tag products by others.
Challenges Associated with GI Tag:
  • Counterfeiting & Imitation: Businesses need to implement robust measures to combat infringements related to GI Violation.
  • International Recognition: Documentation and legal procedures to achieve international recognition for GIs is a complex process.
  • Legal Frameworks: Enforcing GI protection requires a strong legal framework and effective enforcement mechanisms. Regions lacking robust legal systems or with limited resources can inhibit the ability to enforce GI rights.
  • Consumer Awareness & Education: Many consumers still do not fully understand the added value and distinct characteristics associated with GIs.
  • Sustainability & Conservation: Climate change, pollution, and unsustainable practices pose threats to the ecosystem that support the production of GI tagged products, necessitating sustainable farming and production techniques.
  • Small-Scale Producer Participation: Navigating the GI system due to limited resources, lack of knowledge, or difficulties in meeting regulatory requirements, limits the small-scale producers from participating in GI tagging.
Initiatives taken by Government to Promote the GI Tag Products:
  • Launch of GI Store: India’s 1st Geographical Indication (GI) Store at Goa International Airport in Dabolim, with an eye over for the global tourists.
  • Promotion through Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA): The Centre, through Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA) has been facilitating trial shipments into new markets world wide for GI products.
  • Financial Assistance: In accordance with the objectives of national IPR policy, Government of India will provide financial assistance to eligible agencies for undertaking initiatives for Promotion of GIs.
  • Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT): It organized various GI Promotion Programmes/Exhibitions/ Conferences/ Buyer Seller Meets/ Workshops with focus on GI Products to boost its sale in India as well abroad.
Way Forward:
  • Strengthening Legal Frameworks: Governments should establish robust legal frameworks that clearly define the criteria for obtaining and maintaining a GI tag.
  • Enhancing Enforcement Mechanisms: Adequate resources and dedicated teams should be allocated to enforce and monitor the proper use of GI tags.
  • Market Promotion and Branding: Proactive marketing strategies and branding initiatives can enhance the visibility and market access of GI products.
  • Strengthening International Cooperation: International cooperation is crucial for the recognition and protection of GI products across borders.
  • Promoting Innovation and Product Development: Encouraging innovation within the framework of traditional practices can help address the challenge of balancing tradition and market demands.
News Source: The Hindu
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