A GI tag is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess origin-based qualities and reputation in the region. It enables the right holders to use the indication to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not belong to the particular region and doesn't have the required quality and standards. Here we discuss the importance of GI Tags and how one can register for it.
GI is typically used in combination with conventional extraction, refining, and marketing, including product branding, for agricultural products. The GI tag, on the other hand, faces problems in terms of quality management, manufacturing process, distribution, and environmental standards and distribution. The GI may be a name of the place of origin, such as Payyanur Pavithra Ring, or an unnamed place of origin, such as Punjab's Phulkari embroidery. A segment on GI was included in the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement) in 1994.
India, as a WTO member, enacted the GI Act, which took effect on September 15, 2003. It ensured that only approved users could manufacture, distribute, and sell goods with a geographical origin. The definition of GI can be found in Section 2(1)(e) of the GI Act, which specifies the types of goods that can be classified, namely agricultural, natural, and manufactured goods that originated or were manufactured in the territory of a country, area, or locality within that territory. In 2004-2005, Darjeeling tea was the first commodity in India to earn a GI tag. Since August 2020, 370 products have been registered as GI in India.
The value of a GI is based on the rights of GI holders to use the indication for the purpose of meeting quality requirements and maintaining the uniqueness of the location. When an applicant obtains a right over a sign that constitutes GI, the right of holders is obtained, according to the conditions and limitations set forth in the registration. This entails a right to prohibit third parties from manufacturing goods that do not reach the specified quality level or use the same technique as is necessary to meet the GI standard. For example, a producer of Salem Fabric may impose restrictions on other producers within or outside Salem’s (Tamil Nadu) geographical boundaries which do not adhere to the GI Act's code of practice and norm.
It also gives the holder the right to sue for infringement and recover damages incurred by the infringement on the condition that the holder obtains GI registration under Section 21 of the GI Act. Except in the event of the death of an authorised holder, who rendered the mark inheritance as given under Section 24 of the GI Act, the register cannot be transferred, mortgaged, authorised, or assigned.
Infringement is described, in this Act as goods made in a location other than the place of origin, as well as unfair practises or competition. Section 18 of the GI Act allows for the registration of a GI tag for a period of 10 years, which can be extended at any time. Under Section 39 of the GI Act, if the holder of a GI falsely applied or falsified any indication, tampered with the originality of the product, made or had in his possession dye, blocks, or machine to use in falsifying GI, he may be sentenced to a term of not less than 6 months, but not more than 3 years, and a fine of not less than INR 50,000 but not more than INR 2 lakh.
The GI tag is registered under the GI Act on the grounds set forth in Sections 11, 13, and 16 of the GI Act:
The significant underlying factors of GI prove to be a determining condition for passing the requirements needed for certificate approval to the applicant or approved users. Section 9 of the GI Act defines the following requirements that must be fulfilled in order for GI to be granted:
The Registrar of Geographical Indications shall be the Controller-General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks appointed under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999, or the Central Government can appoint such officer with the same designation to discharge the functions of Registrar. Furthermore, the register for documenting the recorded GI with the proprietors' names, addresses, and descriptions, approved users' names, addresses, and descriptions, and other matters relating to registered geographical indications (under Section 6 of the Act).
Part A will provide registration for a GI, and Part B will provide registration for registered users. The registrar may identify the products in whole, or in part, and the GI may be registered in relation to a specific country, territory, or locality. The registrar has the right to issue an alphabetical index of product classifications.
Technology-driven innovation now necessitates e-marketing and online payment from the comfort of your own home, as well as the use of a cell phone to order goods at any time and from any location . With the aid of an online portal, you can get everything shipped to your door, including GI Tagged items.
The GI tag has proven to be a significant intangible property with a long-term effect on people's perceptions of product quality in relation to the country, area, or locality of origin. It offers benefits such as legal protection for the product, the prevention of illegal use of the product, the provision of a quality and standardized product, and the growth of product economic stability in national and international markets.
Furthermore, the GI tag must be given after a thorough examination of historical and empirical evidence, and in the event of a dispute over the place of origin, the responsible authority may either grant ownership to either states or none at all. The aim of granting a GI approval is to ensure that resources are fully used for the best possible use of services and products in the manufacturing, sale, and distribution of GI products. Such a Geographical Indication (GI) Tag allows for improved competitiveness, efficiency, and national prestige in the international market.
However, there is always a possibility of a misuse, in the sense that certain unauthorized retailers, distributors, or producers create duplicate and unlawful sale, delivery, and thereby deceive and distort the quality and goodwill of the licensed product in the market. This includes deceptive trade practices, which are in violation of the Consumer Protection Act, Trademark Act, Indian Companies Act, Competition Act, and other laws. As a consequence, it is imperative that this act be enforced and governed quickly and strictly in order to maintain originality.