Geographic Indication also known as GI identifies a product as originating in a particular region, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of the product is essentially attributed to its geographical origin.
Geographical Indication is one of the six Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 which has come into effect from 15th September 2003. The key objectives of the Act are:
- adequately protect the interest of producers of GI goods and add to the prosperity of the producers of such goods
- Protect consumers from deception,
- Promote goods bearing GI in the export market.
GI may be associated with natural, agricultural, manufactured or industrial products. Geographical Indications can be registered at the “Geographical Indications Registry” established by the Government of India at Chennai. Process for registration is illustrated in the diagram.
Often, producers maintaining the quality of product are exposed to unfair competition by individuals who sell lower quality of products at the same price. Geographic Indication assures producers’ credit, trust, and competitiveness in the market. It is a tool that intends to help rural areas in improving their livelihood.Geographic Indications can be used in the domestic and international market as part of the product’s marketing strategy. It is seen as an action to evade unfair competition.
However, many of the Indian producers are not completely aware of the benefits of GI. Due to the lack of interest in Intellectual Rights in general, the number of applications for GI registration are low. Another reason could be that producer associations are not very well informed and networked. Frank and open communication channels are essential between various entities such as producers, cooperatives, associations, organisations, government representatives and the community in the Geographical Region.
A list of Geographic Indications in India can be found here.