“Position of GI tags in India”- By Yashika Soni
A Geographical Indication (GI) is a term or symbol that is placed on products to distinguish them from others because they have a specific quality, employ traditional manufacturing processes, or have a reputation owing to their geographical origin.
The WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which was signed in 1994, dates back to the early twentieth century in France and is known as appellation d'origine controlee (AOC). However, it has spread to various countries, including India, that are members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
In India, GI tags are issued by the Geographical Indication Registry, which is part of the Department of Industry Promotion and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and is governed by the provisions of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, which took effect on September 15, 2003.
Any individual producer, association of individuals, organisation, or authority created by or under the legislation can apply for a GI tag, and the application must be prepared in the suitable format and submitted to the appropriate authorities together with the required fee. A GI tag is only good for ten years, but it may be renewed for another ten years every time it is renewed.
Darjeeling Tea was the first commodity in India to be given a Geographical Indication (GI) tag, which was given to it between 2004 and 2005, and since then, the number of registrations and applications has risen.
As per Section 2(f) of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, roughly 370 GI tags have been awarded to various goods, according to the Indian government.
Decisions of the Courts:
Geographical indication, like any other intellectual property, is one of the recently found yet well-utilized opportunities for products with distinctly distinctive features according to their origin or manufacture site. The Geographical Indications Act of 1999 governs geographical indications, and goods that come under this category are given special marks and symbols so that consumers are informed of the product's quality. With the rise in crime, intellectual property rights are also at risk, since numerous sellers offering imitation items under the false pretense of the original product sell them to unknowing consumers. There have been several instances where the product has been the focus of a disagreement. In other circumstances, a manufacturer would purposefully add terms that belong to the original product and sell them in the market under a false impression, such as in the case of the Scotch Whiskey Association, Following the same verdict, the Delhi High Court declared the same in Cartier International B.V. v. Cartier International B.V. as a deception for buyers and generated a confusion between the original and imitated goods in Cartier International B.V. v. Cartier International B.V. (2003), Time incorporated v. Lokesh Srivastav and Another (2005), Microsoft corporation v. Yogesh Popat and another (2007).
In the case of Tea Board of India vs. ITC Ltd., one of the most important decisions was set (2011). The defendant deceitfully utilised the term 'Darjeeling' to name one of its locations, leading consumers to assume it was the location of origin, which was not the case. The plaintiff filed an interlocutory motion for a temporary injunction against using the name because the Court believed that doing so would endanger the tea industry in that location.
In Comité Interprofessionnel Du Vin De Champagne v. M/s. Chinar Agro Fruit Products (2011), the defendant was barred from using the term "Champagne" for the non-alcoholic sparkling drink under Section 22 of the GI Act. The plaintiff used the Geographical Indication (Registration and Protection) Act of 1999 to register the word "Champagne." The plaintiff's right under Section 22(3) was infringed because of the usage of the term.
In one of the famous cases of Bikanerwala v. New Bikanerwala (2005) The plaintiff's right is infringed upon when a comparable misleading name is used to sell the product, according to the Court. The defendant's establishment was known as 'Agarwal Bikanerwala' and sold sweets and snacks, whereas the petitioner had been using the term 'Bikanerwala' since 1981 and was registered in 1992. As a result, the defendant was barred from selling or advertising any food under the distinctive mark/name.