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Geographical Indications and Protected Geographical Indications
Geographic Indications and Protected Geographical Indications
S u b m i t t e d B y
Registration Process for a Geographic Indicator..........................................................................................5
Flowchart of the GI Registration Process.....................................................................................................8
Benefits of GI with examples.......................................................................................................................9
European Union schemes of geographical indications and traditional specialties....................................13
Examples of PGIs.......................................................................................................................................14
PGI Applied By India..................................................................................................................................17
Challenges, Mistakes and awareness........................................................................................................21
Indian Perspective- Other Potential Options for PGIs................................................................................23
“Geographical indications are the 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
characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.”
The concept of GIs was first introduced by France in 1919, when the Parliament passed a law on
the protection and control of regional agricultural products. Then, in 1935, the more
comprehensive GI certification system was created. The underlying idea of GIs is that product
quality and taste are both strictly linked to the place of production, its geography, flora, fauna,
climate and regional know-how.
World Trade Organisation rules provide in fact for a ‘binary system’ that allows a different level
of protection depending on whether the subject of GI are wine and spirits (Article 23) or other
food (Article 22).
The TRIPS Agreement contains three distinctions in the level of protection:
1) For geographical indications related to all products
The scope of protection is limited to the prohibition of the use of geographical
indications by producers not located in the region designated by the particular
2) For wines and spirits
The additional protection for both wines and spirits includes three elements:
• The provision of the legal means for interested parties to prevent the use of a
geographical indication identifying wines and spirits, not originating in the place
indicated by the geographical indication.
• The possibility to refuse or invalidate the registration of a trademark for wines or
spirits which contains or consists of a geographical indication identifying wines or
spirits at the request of an interested party.
• The call for future negotiations aimed at increasing protection for individual
geographical indications for wines and spirits.
3) For wines only
• An “extra-additional” protection by the TRIPS Agreement for wines only
emphasizes the need to accord protection for each geographical indication for
wines in the case of homonymous indications.
• The establishment of a multilateral system of notification and registration of
geographical indications for wines eligible for protection in the jurisdictions of
those WTO Members participating in the system.
The objective is clear: to prevent that wrong information might provoke confusion among
consumers and products. The application of GIs generates a number of economic consequences
for Consumers, Producers and Markets. GIs aim on providing customers with information about
product quality and characteristics, therefore reducing transaction costs. European consumers,
for instance, know that Italian Parmigiano has a specific taste, and hence, producers have a clear
incentive in clarifying that Parmigiano has a number of characteristics for which it cannot be
assimilated to other categories of look-alike cheese. Furthermore, GIs are meant to protect
customers from the deceiving usage of geographical names. French Champagne is a luxury and
expensive good, which is produced by specific production methods and must fulfill high quality
standards. Buying sparkling wine falsely labeled as Champagne and not produced in accordance
to the strict rules, would represent an economic damage for the customer.
Finally, it can be argued that GIs are mostly used for protecting the intellectual property of a
region, of its producers and of their products. The idea is that certain localities and their
inhabitants and producers have developed unique products, which should be protected against
• Name of a country region or locality (Darjeeling Tea).
• Any name which relates to a specific Geographical area and is used upon or in relation to
particular goods originating from that country region or locality (Basmati Rice).
• Goods: Agricultural, Natural, Manufactured, Handicrafts, Industrial Products, Food
Stuffs, wine and Spirit.
Registration Process for a Geographic Indicator
STEP 1: Filing of application
The association of persons or producers or any organization or authority should represent the
interest of producers of the concerned goods and should file an affidavit how the applicant
claims to represent their interest.
Application must be made in triplicate.
The application shall be signed by the applicant or his agent and must be accompanied by
a statement of case.
Details of the special characteristics and how those standards are maintained.
Three certified copies of the map of the region to which the GI relates.
Details of the inspection structure if any to regulate the use of the GI in the territory to
which it relates.
Give details of all the applicants together with addresses. If there is a large number of
producers a collective reference to all the producers of the goods may be made in the
application and the G.I., if registered will be indicated accordingly in the register.
The applicant must have an address for service in India. Generally, application can be filed by
(1) a legal practitioner (2) a registered agent.
STEP 2 and 3: Preliminary scrutiny and examination
The Examiner will scrutinize the application for any deficiencies.
The applicant should within one month of the communication in this regard, remedy the
The content of statement of case is assessed by a consultative group of experts will
versed on the subject.
The will ascertain the correctness of particulars furnished.
Thereafter an Examination Report would be issued.
STEP 4: Show cause notice
If the Registrar has any objection to the application, he will communicate such objection.
The applicant must respond within two months or apply for a hearing.
The decision will be duly communicated. If the applicant wishes to appeal, he may within
one month make a request.
The Registrar is also empowered to withdraw an application, if it is accepted in error,
after giving on opportunity of being heard.
STEP 5: Publication in the geographical indications Journal
Every application, within three months of acceptance shall be published in the Geographical
STEP 6: Opposition to Registration
Any person can file a notice of opposition within three months (extendable by another
month on request which has to be filed before three months) opposing the GI
application published in the Journal.
The registrar shall serve a copy of the notice on the applicant.
Within two months the applicant shall sent a copy of the counterstatement.
If he does not do this be shall be deemed to have abandoned his application. Where the
counter-statement has been filed, the registrar shall serve a copy on the person giving the
notice of opposition.
Thereafter, both sides will lead their respective evidences by way of affidavit and
A date for hearing of the case will be fixed thereafter.
STEP 7: Registration
Where an application for a GI has been accepted, the registrar shall register the
geographical indication. If registered the date of filing of the application shall be deemed
to be the date of registration.
The registrar shall issue to the applicant a certificate with the seal of the Geographical
STEP 8: Renewal
A registered GI shall be valid for 10 years and can be renewed on payment of renewal fee.
STEP 9: Additional protection to notified goods
Additional protection for notified goods is provided in the Act.
STEP 10: Appeal
Any person aggrieved by an order or decision may prefer an appeal to the intellectual property
appellate board (IPAB) within three months.
The Following Indications cannot be registered
The use of which would be likely to deceive or cause confusion
The use of which would be contrary to any law for the time being in force
Which comprises or contains scandalous or obscene matter
Which comprises or contains any matter likely to hurt the time being in force; religious
susceptibilities of any class or section of the citizens of India
Which would otherwise be disentitled to protection in a court
Which are determined to be generic names or indications of goods and are, therefore, not
or ceased to be protected in their country of origin or which have fallen into disuse in that
Which although literally true as to the territory region or locality in which the goods
originate, but falsely represent to the persons that the goods originate in another territory,
region or locality as the case may be.
Flowchart of the GI Registration Process
Benefits of GI with examples
Case 1: Pinggu peaches – China
The Pinggu district is located seventy kilometers northeast of Beijing. The Pinggu district bills
itself as the largest peach farm in the world with a growing area of 6,000 hectares and an annual
output of 270 million kilograms of more than 200 varieties of peaches. The Pinggu peaches also
act as one of the major source of economic growth for the people as it provides employment to
over 1, 50,000 people.
Pinggu peaches are distinguishable from peaches cultivated in other regions due to their beautiful
colour, high sugar content, unique flavor and large size. A growing Chinese economy brought
increasing demand for Pinguu peaches, and by 2005 orchard owners were exporting them to over
twenty provinces in China as well as foreign markets such as Brunei, the European Union,
Russia Singapore and Thailand.
Most Chinese farmers are small, disparate producers that lack the capital and know-how to create
brand names or undertake mass production or operations, the use of a geographical indication
(GI) give them a chance to share the added value of brand names without necessarily
establishing their own. The registration and use of trademarks and geographical indications of
feature produce has become a key tool in increasing farmers’ incomes and accelerating
The immense success of Pinggu peaches prompted orchard owners and the government of
Pinggu district to select Pinggu peaches as a candidate for registration as products of GI. Under
Chinese law, GI registration is confined to a group, association or other organization, rather than
an individual producer or trader. Such organizations must comprise of members who are native
to the region that is specified by the GI. Therefore to register a GI for Pinggu peaches, orchard
owners and the Pinggu government formed the Pinggu County Production and Distribution
Service Center of Agricultural Products (PDSCAP). This alliance resulted in the Pinggu peach
being the first agricultural product to have its GI registered in China in 2002. In 2007, China and
the European Union (EU) signed an agreement aimed at protecting the GI status of certain
agricultural products sold in each other’s markets. Ten products were chosen from China, and
Pinggu peaches were among them.
After the Pinggu peach was registered as a GI product, the market value of the fruit increased
greatly, both at home and abroad. To meet increased domestic demand, cut out the middlemen
and shorten transportation from plantations to markets, Pinggu District set up twenty licensed
wholesale outlets selling fresh Pinggu peaches in three major communities in Beijing. To meet
increased international demand, PDSCAP works with local orchard owners and companies to
export and commercialize Pinggu peaches in major markets in Europe and Asia.
Following GI registration and the public relations campaign, the price of a Pinggu peach rose to
a level thirty percent higher than others, while premium Pinggu peaches sell for double the price.
Pinggu district exports over forty percent of China’s fresh peaches, and in 2005 its peach sales
hit RMB 420 million, earning each of the region’s growers eighteen percent more than they did
As a result of the 2007 GI agreement with the EU, Pinggu peaches are now sold in over twenty-
five countries in the EU for around five Euros each.
It has also increased the land value of the Pinggu region and has substantially helped the socio-
economic development and sustainability of the region.
Case 2 : Rooibos – South Africa
Known scientifically as aspalathuslinearis but called “rooibos” by the locals (which literally
means “red bush” and is pronounced “roy-boss”), rooibos is found deep in the mountains of
Cedarburg some two hundred kilometers north of Cape Town in the Republic of South Africa
(South Africa). The plant has been used by indigenous people – notably the Khoi and San – for
generations as a remedy to a wide range of ailments. The Khoi and San discovered that the fine,
needle-like rooibos leaves made a healthy, tasty and aromatic herbal tea. High in antioxidants
and caffeine-free, rooibos can relieve allergic symptoms, provide an energy boost and help heal
It grows only in a small region of the Cedarburg mountain ranges and requires specific
geographical conditions to grow. Harvesting and processing wild rooibos is a time consuming
and difficult task, and for centuries the health benefits of rooibos were only enjoyed by the Khoi
and San people. Farming and rooibos production was small-scale, and the popularity of the tea
was limited to the local level.
In 1948, rooibos producers and famers organized and formed the Clanwilliam Tea Cooperative.
In 1954, the South African Minister of Agriculture, at the request of the Tea Cooperative,
established the Rooibos Tea Control Board (the Tea Board). Tasked with revitalizing the rooibos
industry after its collapse following World War II, the Tea Board put significant investment into
regulating the product, stabilizing prices, improving quality and bringing rooibos tea back to the
market. The Tea Board introduced modern equipment, refined production methods and increased
distribution in an effort to allow rooibos to reach as many people and markets as possible. As
production picked up the popularity of the tea quickly spread, and with the help of Tea Board the
industry started to move back on track.
The rooibos industry has become very streamlined and modern, and by 2011 there were over 400
farmers producing rooibos tea for Rooibos Limited and other companies. These farmers are
extremely productive, and have successfully combined traditional knowledge with modern
equipment to output over 12,000 tons of rooibos tea every year. Out of that, approximately 5,000
tons is for the domestic market, with the remainder exported to over thirty countries. Denmark,
Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America (USA) are the largest
importers of rooibos tea. This lively and growing industry provides jobs for over 5,000 people
and brings in approximately R500 million (approximately US $70 million) in annual earnings.
Despite the booming tea industry, rooibos has many other applications, one of the most popular
of which is used in cosmetics and skin care. As a result, the industry experienced another
positive turning point, as farmers and companies cultivated more rooibos to keep up with the
In 2008, South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry recognized the importance of
geographical indications (GI) and submitted the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill to
parliament. Rooibos met all of the requirements for geographical indication protection: it is only
grown in one part of the world; the properties of the plant are a direct result of the unique
geographical conditions in which it grows; there is a strong link between rooibos and the farmers
that grow it, as they have traditional knowledge on the correct way to cultivate and produce the
plant; and the plant is truly part of South African identity.
First, it protects the name from usurpation while allowing all those involved in the rooibos
industry in the region – from farmers to exporters – to use it without fear of litigation in foreign
markets. Second, a GI comes with specific guidelines for how a product should be produced, and
this will ensure that all rooibos is of the same high quality. Third, it adds value for the producers,
and a GI would put more power in the hands of the producers and farmers. Fourth, because the
GI links an area to a product, it would be a powerful marketing tool for the region, and could be
used to promote other activities such as tourism. Fifth, rooibos is produced in a fragile
ecosystem, and a GI will help protect the unique biodiversity of the region. Lastly, a GI will
ensure that rooibos tea blends are in fact genuine and not diluted, by requiring the product to
contain at least 80% rooibos in order for it be labeled as an official rooibos product.
It has turned into a thriving and prosperous industry, providing jobs for thousands and
putting a sparsely populated region at the forefront of the international tea industry.
Demand for rooibos has steadily increased, and tripled for the ten year period between
1997 and 2007, going from an annual production of 5,000 metric tons to 15,000 metric
tons. By 2008, production was over 18,000 metric tons.
The cultivation area has also doubled in that time frame, and by 2008 was over 40,000
hectares. By early 2011, the rooibos industry was enjoying an average annual growth rate
of approximately six percent.
Members have been able to make significant strides in improving their communities
through efforts such as building schools and providing support for disadvantaged people.
European Union schemes of geographical indications and traditional specialties
Three European Union schemes of geographical indications and traditional specialties, known as
protected designation of origin (PDO), protected geographical indication (PGI), and traditional
specialities guaranteed (TSG), promote and protect names of quality agricultural products and
foodstuffs. This Regulation (enforced within the EU and being gradually expanded
internationally via bilateral agreements between the EU and non-EU countries) ensures that only
products genuinely originating in that region are allowed to be identified as such in commerce.
The legislation first came into force in 1992. The purpose of the law is to protect the reputation
of the regional foods, promote rural and agricultural activity, help producers obtain a premium
price for their authentic products, and eliminate the unfair competition and misleading of
consumers by non-genuine products, which may be of inferior quality or of different flavor.
These laws protect the names of wines, cheeses, hams, sausages, seafood, olives, olive oils,
beers, Balsamic vinegar and even regional breads, fruits, raw meats and vegetables.
Protected designation of origin (PDO)
The Protected Designation of Origin is the name of an area, a specific place or, in exceptional
cases, the name of a country, used as a designation for an agricultural product or a foodstuff,
which comes from such an area, place or country, whose
quality or properties are significantly or exclusively determined by the geographical
environment, including natural and human factors
production, processing and preparation takes place within the determined geographical
Protected geographical indication (PGI)
The Protected geographical indication is the name of an area, a specific place or, in exceptional
cases, the name of a country, used as a description of an agricultural product or a foodstuff,
which comes from such an area, place or country,
which has a specific quality, goodwill or other characteristic property, attributable to its
whose production, processing or preparation takes place within the determined
In other words, to receive the PGI status, the entire product must be traditionally and at least
partially manufactured (prepared, processed or produced) within the specific region and thus
acquire unique properties.
Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG)
The TSG quality scheme aims to provide a protection regime for traditional food products of
specific character. Differing from PDO and PGI, this quality scheme does not certify that the
protected food product has a link to specific geographical area.
To qualify for a TSG a food must be of “specific character” and either its raw materials,
production method or processing must be “traditional”. For a food name to be registrable under
the TSG scheme it must
have been traditionally used to refer to the specific product; or
identify the traditional character or specific character of the product.
A TSG creates an exclusive right over the registered product name. Accordingly, the registered
product name can only be used by producers who conform to the registered production method
and product specifications.
Examples of PGIsColumbian Coffee
Coffee is one of the major industries in Colombia. It is the second biggest coffee producer of the
world with approximately 560,000 people employed in the coffee industry. Colombian coffee is
exported to many countries in Europe as well as Japan and the United States. Colombian coffee
growers have a long history of developing strategies to protect and promote their product.
Colombian Coffee Federation (Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia, FNC) founded in
1927 really brought dynamism in the industry and led to the expansion of international markets
for Colombian coffee. Since its establishment, the FNC has been successful in managing the
farmers and ensuring reasonable benefits for them. During the late 1950s, the price of Colombian
coffee plummeted from US $0.85 to 0.45 per pound due to an excessive supply in the world
market. The market was dominated by the coffee roasters, who would blend coffee beans from
various unspecified origins in their products in order to give themselves the flexibility that would
maximize their profit margins. As a result, public awareness of the origin of coffees was low.
Only 4 percent of consumers in the United States, the largest coffee market at the time, were
aware that Colombia produced coffee. The federation of growers (FNC) felt this had to change.
The FNC realized that the problem could be overcome only if consumers knew where coffee
comes from. So Colombia became the first coffee-producing country to embark on an active
strategy of differentiating and marketing its product.
The FNC began by putting a face on Colombian coffee – literally. With the help of a New York-
based advertising agency, the FNC created Juan Valdez® – a fictional character wearing a
sombrero and leading his mule Conchita – to represent the archetypal Colombian coffee grower.
Television commercials shown in North America in the 1960s featured Juan Valdez in the coffee
fields with his faithful mule, painstakingly selecting and hand-picking the ripest beans.
Consumers began to respond to the message that Colombian beans are grown and harvested with
great care, with little help from machines, in ideal climatic conditions with plenty of rain, sun
and fertile volcanic soil. Demand grew. Many coffee roasters began marketing their products as
Colombian coffee. The creation of the Juan Valdez persona has been instrumental in selling
Colombian beans around the world.
Colombia already had in place the same legislations for the protection of GIs, and in December
2004 the FNC presented the Colombian government with an application to recognize “Café de
Colombia” as a GI. Within three months it was ratified. In 2005, the FNC broke new ground by
applying to protect Café de Colombia as a Protected Geographical Indication under the European
Union (EU) system - the first time this had ever been done for a product from a country outside
the EU following the opening of the EU system for non-European GI products. After some ups
and downs along the way, the EU procedure concluded successfully. When the two-year period
of opposition expired, the formal recognition of Café de Colombia as a Protected Geographical
Indication under the EU system became official in September 2007.
Through its innovative strategies, ranging from branding to certification marks to GI, the FNC
has established Colombian coffee as one of the worlds’ best, which increased the country’s
coffee exports on the one hand, and the returns to the growers and traders on the other. In the
international arena, “Juan Valdez” has been a huge success over the last several decades, creating
a clear, global brand identity for Colombian coffee. Every single kilogram of Juan Valdez coffee
has been sold, ever since its inception, at a 20 percent higher price than coffees from other
countries. Subsequent brands such as freeze-dried Buencafé have also proved to be very
successful. In 2009, Colombia produced more than 9.6 million 60-kilogram bags of coffee. Most
of the coffee is exported to other countries.
Tequila – Mexico:
Mexico has been a party to the Lisbon Agreement since September 25, 1966. The definition of
appellation of origin used in our Industrial Property Law is based on the definition established by
Article 2(1) of the Lisbon Agreement.Article 1(2) of the Lisbon Agreement provides that States
parties shall undertake to protect, on their territories and in accordance with the terms of the
Agreement, the appellations of origin of the products of other countries which are recognized
and protected as such in the country of origin, and registered with WIPO.
As regards Tequila, in 1973 Tequila Herradura, S.A. and the Regional Chamber of the Tequila
Industry applied for the declaration of protection for this appellation of origin from the
Secretariat of Trade and Industrial Promotion, in order to protect the blue variety of Agave
Tequilana Weber distilled liquor. The declaration of protection in question was published in the
Official Federation Gazette of December 9, 1974, which provided that Tequila could be applied
only to the liquor of the same name, was drawn up in accordance with the Official Quality
Standard (NOM) for Tequila, and delimited the territory of origin.
In 1977, the declaration in question was amended in order to extend the geographical area,
including to the State of Tamaulipas. Subsequently, on June 22, 1999 the extract of the
application for amendment to the Declaration of Protection for Tequila was published in the
Official Federation Gazette, having been made by the Municipality of Marcos Castellanos of the
State of Michoacán, since this Municipality was excluded from the territory covering the
appellation of origin in question as the result of an administrative division. Consequently, on
November 3, 1999 the amendment to the declaration mentioned was published in the Official
Federation Gazette and included the Municipality of Marcos Castellanos. Similarly, on June 26,
2000 a further amendment to the Declaration of Protection for Tequila was published and
included the Municipality of Romita of the State of Guanajuato.
Finally, on August 16, 2001 the Official Federation Gazette published an extract of an
amendment to the Declaration of Protection for Tequila so as to include the rules for indirect use
of Tequila in other beverages.
Fig: Area Protected Under GI
PGI Applied By India
1. Darjeeling Tea
2. Kangra Tea
Out of this Darjeeling Tea, is registered.
Darjeeling tea goes back to 1835. It is statutorily controlled by the Government as part of the Tea
industry from 1933 under various enactments culminating in the Tea Act, 1953. The Tea Board
is vested with the authority to administer all stages of tea cultivation, processing & sale through
various orders. It is cultivated currently in 87 designated gardens in the Darjeeling district.
A joint communiqué has been signed between the Tea Board of India and the European Tea
Committee (ETC), supporting the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) registration granted
in respect of Darjeeling tea within the European Union (EU).
The Tea Board of India was represented by Mr. M.G.V.K. Bhanu, Chairman, while the European
Tea Committee was represented by Mr. William Gorman, President. The ETC and Tea Board
have also jointly agreed that they would cooperate and work together in disseminating
information about the PGI registration and its implications in the local language in Germany and
other tea consuming countries within the EU.Tea Board India and ETC would jointly approach
EU for any financial assistance to take necessary steps towards informing EU consumers and
citizens about Darjeeling PGI and its implications. It also involves evolving a joint working
relationship to implement the PGI registration for Darjeeling in letter and spirit.
Physical characteristics of Darjeeling tea estates:
The special Darjeeling logo, created in 1983 and registered as a collective trademark in India, is
a labelling requirement, for tea that has been certified by the Board as conforming to the
standards and characteristics of Darjeeling tea.
Since its introduction, the Darjeeling logo has always appeared on packaging cartons/chest
under the control of the Board. The Tea Board has obtained registration of the Darjeeling logo as
a Certification Mark under the Indian Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958.
The Tea Board has also registered the Darjeeling logo under the new Geographical Indication of
Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999.
The status indicates that the tea produced only in Darjeeling can be sold as Darjeeling tea in
the European Union countries. Along with this, a section of blenders selling the brew with a
certain percentage of the commodity as Darjeeling tea was given a five-year time to shift to the
new business. "Darjeeling tea has a shelf life of three years.
If EU has to sell pure Darjeeling tea from 2016, it will have to start buying tea from this year. EU
blenders are expected to offload their inventory this year and start buying fresh stock," said
SheoSankarBagaria, chairman, Darjeeling Tea Association. Till date, some blenders in the EU
countries generally mix 49% of any tea with 51% of Darjeeling tea and still sell it as Darjeeling
At present, EU imports nearly 3-4 million kg of Darjeeling tea, which accounts for nearly 60% of
Darjeeling’s tea export.
Other PGI applied is Kangra Tea. (Still pending)
• The only other PGI applied by India
• Submitted on25.01.2008
• Kangra tea is an orthodox variety, close to Darjeeling tea, and it has been registered
under the Geographical Indications (GI) of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,
• The total production of Kangra tea is about 7-8 lakh kg annually. Nearly 96 per cent of
the holdings have an average size of less than an acre.
Challenges, Mistakes and awareness
• We are yet to realize the potential.
• India needs the list to be expanded to include items like basmati, so that its
products can also get the protection afforded to French wine.
• People engaged in the production of such products are small households or small units,
although in the same area.
• No aggressive as the EU counterpart.
• Lenient or no counter action
• Reduced import duties for EU dairy products by India,
• EU does not allow import of Indian dairy products, (strict sanitary standards-non-
• India needs the list to be expanded to include items like basmati, so that its products can
also get the protection afforded to French wine.
Major challenges faced are :
1. Integrating the production chain between the countryside and industry, thereby
guaranteeing the main component
2. Ensuring complete production.
3. Meeting the demand for the product fully (100 per cent).
4. Modernizing the sector by means of technology.
5. Consolidating the Indian identity and origin in new markets.
Basmati Rice-Potential Option for PGI
GIs, as defined by TRIPS, need not always be geographical names (such as name of a
town,region or country) to designate the origin of the goods to which they are associated, but
may consist of symbols as well, if such symbols are capable of indicating the origin of the goods
concerned without literally naming the place of their origins. One such indication is ‘Basmati’
for particular varieties of fragrant rice produced in certain regions of India and Pakistan.
‘Basmati’ is not a geographical name. But if it is perceived by the public as an indication of rice
originating from those particular geographical regions of India and Pakistan, then ‘Basmati’ can
very well qualify as a GI.
In the absence of GI status for ‘Basmati’ (rice), a US-based multinational RiceSelect had been
wrongfully using the term ‘Basmati’ for its rice ‘Texmati’ for more than two decades.
RiceSelect has six flavoured rice mixes, based on a strain of basmati called Texmati (it's grown
in Texas). When this practice was challenged in the court, the company claimed that ‘Basmati’
is a generic term, which refers to a class of rice, and not necessarily a particular category of rice
produced in certain regions of India and Pakistan.
However, ‘Basmati’ (rice)–one of the most controversial and crucial GIs–is yet to be registered
under the GI Act. A major reason for this delay is the selection of the right varieties. Over the
years, scientists have developed several varieties of aromatic rice, naming them ‘Basmati’,
although many of these aromatic rice varieties do not contain any parental line of the traditional
‘Basmati’. This has generated enormous confusion regarding the authenticity of different
varieties of ‘Basmati’.
Basmati is a variety of rice originally grown in Punjab and Himalayan foothills. Post 1947,
Punjab was divided between India and Pakistan, so now both nations claim GI tag for Basmati
rice. After many negotiations, India and Pakistan decided to get a Joint GI for Basmati globally.
But the talks came to a halt soon after 26/11 attack in Mumbai. Now Bangladesh also wants to be
part of this joint GI for Basmati. India accounted for around 233,985 tons or about 84% of total
basmati rice imports by the EU in 2012-13, which is up about 30% from the previous year, while
basmati rice imports from Pakistan stood at around 44,917 tons in 2012-13 which is down about
9% from 2011-12. In the meantime, Philippines etc. are selling their rice as “Basmati” in EU and
USA (despite the fact that Basmati is native to Indian subcontinent).
Indian Perspective- Other Potential Options for PGIs
Till date, India has 215 GIs registered under the GI Act. Out of 215 GIs, India has been able to
register only one product i.e. Darjeeling tea as PGI in European Union. The trade share which a
PGI enjoys in European nation would increase the turnover many folds. There is a need of
awareness about GIs and PGIs among Indians so that the number of PGIs increases and this in
turn would help India to increase the GDP.
Some of the important GIs from India’s perspective are present in the below picture:
Nagpur orange is a variety of orange grown in Nagpur. It is rustic and pockmarked exterior
which is sweet and has juicy pulp. It gives the city of Nagpur its pseudonym Orange City.
The Geographical Indication was applied for Nagpur Orange with the registrar of GIs in India,
and is effective as of April 2014.
Devgad is widely known for its pure Alphonso mango cultivation/farming and the whole
development has evolved due to undertaking of the cultivation of Alphonso mango farming. A
majority of farmers are converting from rice cultivation to mango cultivation in the Western
Konkan Region of Maharashtra, alongside the Arabian Sea Western Coast.
Mahabaleshwar contributes to 85% of the total Strawberry produce in India and about 80% is
consumed fresh. Mapro Gardens is a garden park in the hill station
of Panchgani, Maharashtra, India, situated close to Mahabaleshwar, known for their strawberry
Comparative Analysis-Registered PGIs
Below mentioned graph tells about the number of PGIs which are registered by different
countries (Data as per European Commission’s Website)
UK Spain Portugal Italy Germany France China India0
Analysis of Registered PGIs-Country Wise-Broad View
Registered PGIsBefore 20002000-2010After 2010
About 96% of share of PGIs is shared by France, Italy, Spain, Germany, UK and Portugal while
the countries from the developing nations form a very small portion of it. The major reason
behind it is the lack of awareness about importance of PGI registration. But, now the third world
developing countries are growing at the faster pace and competing with other developed
countries in terms of PGI registrations as well. Below mentioned graph gives a positive view,
about China’s effort to reach higher up the ladder
UK Spain Portugal Italy Germany France China India
After 2010 14 23 2 20 24 28 6 1
Registered PGIs-After 2010Re
China has registered 6 of its products after 2010 which is far way better than many more
European Union countries. But, India has registered only one product and hence we need to work
upon it and it’s the future of several GIs which are registered in our country if we want to
increase our share of trade on the world’s map.
ConclusionThe protection of geographical indications matters economically and culturally. They can create
value for local communities through products that are deeply rooted in tradition, culture and
geography. They support rural development and promote new job opportunities in production,
processing and other related services. Geographical indications are becoming a useful intellectual
property right for developing countries because of their potential to add value and promote rural
socio-economic development. Most countries have a range of local products that correspond to
the concept of geographical indications but only a few are already known or protected globally.
For example: Basmati rice or Darjeeling tea
However, geographical names with commercial value are exposed to misuse and counterfeiting.
The abuse of geographical indications limits access to certain markets and undermines consumer
loyalty. Fraudulent use of geographical indications hurts both producers and consumers. So in
order to safeguard our GIs we need to have our products registered at international level and
PGIs are way for future.
Henceforth, there is a need for Multi-lateral registration so that we can register a product in GI
office in our own country. Database of all such countries should be uploaded on WTO and
interlinked and this in turn will reduce the fraudulent activities. But this “Multilateral register”
system has not been established yet because there is disagreement among WTO members. EU
wants this system compulsory for everyone. But China and Hong Kong wants this System
compulsory for “only” country which agrees to participate in it. However, the wine and liquor
business lobby of Europe is very powerful. Hence they’ve managed to get WTO to negotiate for
a multilateral GI register for Wine and liquor. Such liquor register is hardly of any use to India
because our “GI-expertise” is handicraft and agriculture products. India wants a common GI
register for all products and not just for liquors.