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Geographical Indications in IPRs

Introduction 

Intellectual Property Rights are the rights that are associated with intangible property owned by a person/ company. These are protected from being used by others. It’s basically rights relating to ownership of intellectual property. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) also refers to intellectual property rights under Article 27 which states that Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.” 

There are ample of reasons why IPR was introduced some of which are:

  1. To provide legal protection.
  2. To promote creativity.
  3. To encourage inventions and creations.
  4. Preventions of infringement of the rights of creators.

There are kinds of IPR like copyrights, trademarks, patents, geographical indication etc.

Geographical indication is one of the kinds of IPR which will be discussed further in the article. 

A geographical Indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin. The product possesses specific qualities that implicates the very origin of the product. To function as a GI, the sign on the product must identify the product it is originating from. 

 

Geographical Indication 

As discussed above it is used to identify the goods that have specific features that represent the origin of the good. They denote quality, reputation, and other characteristics. These are mainly used for agricultural products, wines, handicrafts etc. Some examples are Basmati Rice, Darjeeling Tea etc.

 

Subject Matter

As per sec 2(1) of Geographical Indication Act, 1999 the subject matter is:

  • Use of which would cause confusion,
  • Use of which is contrary to the time of enactment;
  • Which would otherwise be destroyed for protection in a court;
  • Those determine to indicate common names or objects.

 

Benefits of geographical Indications

  • It provides legal protection to the signs.
  • Prevents unauthorized use of the GIs by others.
  • Promotes economic prosperity of the producers of the concerned geographical area.
  • Registered owners can approach for legal protection in other WTO member countries.

 

Who can apply for geographical indication.

Any person or manufacturer or organization or authority which has been established by law may apply for registration of GI

  1. The applicant should represent the interest of the producers in the product.
  2. The application submitted must be in required format in writing and must contain minute details about the products as well.
  3. The application must be addressed to the Registrar of Geographical Indicators along with prescribed fee.

 

Who can be considered as an authorized user.

  1. Manufacturer of goods 
  2. Person must be related to a registered GI.
  3. Must be applied in writing with a prescribed fee.

  

Rights under Geographical Indication

This kind provides various rights:

  • Rights to use the GI so as to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not conform to applicable standards.
  • Rights to sue are granted to the person who is protected under GI. The holder has a right of property that he can use subject to certain conditions and to take legal action against a person who uses his invention without his consent.
  • The holder is also entitled to the right to transfer license to any other person for the use regarding the product. 
  • The holder also has the right to claim relief in relation to violation of GI. 
  • Right to exploit the goods registered under the geographical indication.

 

Registration process 

Step 1 – 

Application filing 

To be in prescribed format including each and every detail of the product.

Step 2 and 3 – 

Preliminary Examination and Examination 

Examiner will check the application for any deficiency if found. Same must be removed within a stipulated time period. Examination report will be issued.

Step 4 – 

Show cause notice

If the registrar has any objection, he will issue show cause notice to the concerned applicant. He must reply within two months for the hearing.

Step 5 – 

Publication in GI journal 

The application must be published within 3 months of acceptance.

Step 6 – 

Inviting Objections 

After publishing the application if any person feels it’s violating their rights or is aggrieved by the application can file a notice within three months.

Step 7 – 

Registration of Application 

Where the application has been accepted it will be registered. The registrar will issue a certificate to the applicant with the seal of Geographical Indications Registry.

Step 8 – 

Renewal of Application

It will be registered for 10 years and can be renewed on renewal by paying fees.

 

Infringement of GI

It is violated by a person who is not a legally registered user of the GI. A geographical indication of trademark also infringes upon any use that is considered an act of “unfair competition.” 

It is also violated who is not a registered user which is actually true as to region or locality from where goods originated and publicly misrepresented that goods are originating in a particular region.  

 

Remedies for infringement

The remedies are similar to trademark infringement. Remedies that are available may be broadly classified into:

  • Civil remedies 

Injunction

 This includes temporary injunction and permanent injunction. It is granted for protection of violations of related documents or evidence. It is granted for restricting defendants from misusing the said product.

Damages

Damages are to be given in the form of compensation. It is provided when the defendant infringes and the same is taken in the court, the court awards damages for wrong use of GI.

  • Criminal remedies 

These are more effective than civil as these are more stringent. The Act provides for violation of various provisions:

  1. Misrepresentation of GIs. 
  2. Selling goods to false geographical indications.
  3. Falsification 

Punishment from six months to three-year imprisonment and a fine of not less than rupees fifty thousand but may extend to two lakhs.

 

Conclusion 

Registered G.I. prohibits the holder from using the registered mark of G.I. or its name in any product. G.I. has proved to be essential in developing and bringing economic prosperity to the origin place of the product. 

 

Written by: Anisha D.

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