Geographical Identification (GI) Tag
Geographical Identification (GI) Tag
You may have heard of products such as Aranmula Kannadi of Kerala, Kanchipuram Sarees of Tamil Nadu and Feni of Goa. These products are named after the places they originated from and are unique in its own sense. Their names are not just merely an indication of where they originate. It also indicates that these products are exclusively grown or manufactured in those particular geographic locations. Hence, such products come with a Geographical Identification Tag. Let’s take a closer look at what a GI Tag is and why it is essential.
What is a Geographical Indication?
A Geographical Indication Tag is a symbol that is used on products that have a particular geographical origin and has a reputation or certain qualities that are due to the said origin. Some well-known examples of names associated to certain products of a specific nature and quality around the world are Darjeeling and Tequila, as they are known for their geographical origin and for possessing characteristics linked to the same source.
Additionally, a Geographical Identification Tag must be able to identify a product as unique and originating in a particular place. Moreover, the reputation or the quality of the product must be due to the area of origin. The tag should be able to place a link between a product and its place of origin/production as the qualities of the product depends on the geographical location of its origin/production.
Importance of Geographical Identification Tags
The following are the reasons why it is essential to have Geographical Identification Tags.
- A GI tag plays a vital role for the producers of a particular product to differentiate their products from other competing products in the market.
- This tag will enable the producers of a particular product to build a stellar reputation and goodwill for their products, which could often fetch a premium price for their products.
- Geo-tagged products boost exports, tourism, cultural heritage, as well as national identity. An excellent example of this would be Kanjeevaram Silk Sarees and Pochampally Ikat as they both contribute to the exports of the country through their popularity.
- Geographical Identification Tags can play a significant role in enhancing trade activity in various countries.
- Geographical Identification Tags are given legal protection in order to preserve and enhance livelihoods as well as to encourage employment generation within the country.
- Several traditional skills may be preserved owing to the premium prices associated with many products that are geo-tagged.
- Various advantages apply to the rural economy, such as improved income generation for farmers and non-farmers.
- A Geographical Identification Tag permits genuine producers to capture and thrive in their respective markets and creates legal entry barriers for fake or counterfeit products.
Geographical Identification vs Trademark
Geographic Identification and Trademarks are both distinctive signs that are used to distinguish goods and services in a marketplace. Both these sings convey information concerning the origin of a particular product or service while enabling consumers with the ability to associate the good/service to a specific standard or quality.
Generally, a trademark informs a consumer about the source of a particular good/service. Consumers can identify a specific good/service from a particular company. It helps consumers associate an excellent/service with a specific quality/reputation through the information conveyed with the help of a trademark about the company responsible for producing the product. A trademark often comprises of a fanciful/arbitrary symbol that is commonly used by its owner or a person authorized to do so. A trademark may be assigned/licensed to anyone anywhere in the world as it is linked to a particular company and not to a geographical location.
On the other hand, Geographical Identification Tags help identify a good or service based on its place of origin. Based on this, consumers may choose to associate a good/service with a specific quality, characteristics or reputation. The sign used to indicate a Geographical Identification would typically be the name of the place of origin of the said product or a name by which the product is popular in that place. A Geographical Identification may be used by every person who resides in the area of origin of the product and manufactures the product as per the specified standards. However, a Geographical Identification cannot be licensed/assigned to an individual outside the respective place of origin or not belonging to the group of authorized producers of the product due to its link with the location of the source.
Process of issuing GI Tags
The following is an overlook of the registration process for attaining a Geographical Identification Tag for a particular product.
Step 1: Filing the application for GI tag for the desired product
Before applying for a GI Tag for a particular product, one should ensure that the product comes within the scope of the definition of a Gl Tag prescribed under Section 2(1)(e) of the Trademarks Act of 1999.
The association of individuals/producers/organization/authority of a product should represent the interests of producers of the concerned goods/services. An affidavit claiming to represent their interests for the goods should be filed. The following conditions should be fulfilled, as well.
- The application must be in three different copies for office purposes.
- The application must be signed by the applicant or their agent, accompanied by a statement of the case.
- The details of the product, such as its unique characteristics and how the standards for the same are maintained should be maintained.
- Three certified and approved copies of the map of the particular region concerning the GI Tag.
- Details pertaining to the inspection structure, if any, are to be submitted to regulate the usage of GI Tag in the region to which it relates.
- Details concerning the applicant, along with their respective address, must be submitted.
The application must be sent to the following address:
Geographical Indications Registry
Intellectual Property Office Building
Industrial Estate, GST Road
Guindy, Chennai-600 032
Phone: 044-22502091-93 or 044-22502091-98
E-mail Address: [email protected]
The applicant of the GI Tag must have an address in India for further processes. Typically, the GI Tag application may be filed by either a legal practitioner or a registered agent.
Step 2: Preliminary review and examination
- The Examiner of the GI Tag will scrutinize and review the concerned application for any errors or deficiencies.
- The applicant is required to make the necessary changes to remedy the errors or deficiencies within one month of receiving the notification for the same.
- The statement and application of the particular case will be assessed by a consultative group of experts who are well-versed on the subject.
- The experts will ensure the accuracy of the particulars that were furnished.
- Finally, an Examination Report detailing the case would be issued.
Step 3: Show cause notice
- If the Registrar encounters any objection to the furnished application, the applicant will be contacted concerning the same.
- The applicant is required to respond within two months or apply for an objection hearing.
- The decision concerning the GI application will be duly communicated. If the applicant wishes to appeal, they may do so within one month of making the request.
- Additionally, the Registrar is empowered to withdraw a GI application if the application is accepted in error. However, the opportunity to be heard will be offered to the applicant.
Step 4: Publication in Geographical Identification Journal
Every application will be published in the Geographical Identifications Journal within three months of accepting the application.
Step 5: Opposition to Registration
- Any individual may file a notice for opposition to the application within three months of issuing the application in the Geographical Identifications Journal. However, it may be extendable by an additional month on a request filed in advance of three months.
- The Registrar will serve a copy of the objection notice to the applicant.
- The applicant is required to respond to the notice and send a copy of a counter statement within two months of receiving the notification if they wish to oppose the objection. If not, the application will be considered to be abandoned. However, if a counter-statement is filed, the same will be served to the opposing applicant.
- After that, both the sides will present their pieces of evidence to the Registrar through an affidavit and supporting essential documents.
- Finally, a date for the Hearing of the case will be scheduled.
Step 6: Registration of the Product
- When the Registrar accepts an application, the product shall be registered under an appropriate geographical identification. If registered, the date of applying will be the date of registration as well.
- The Registrar shall issue a certificate indicating the product with the seal of the Geographical Identifications Registry.
Step 8: Renewal
A registered Geographical Identification for a particular product shall be valid for 10 years and maybe renewed along with a renewal fee.