1. What is GI tag?
  2. How is GI different than trademark?
  3. Mechanism: Internationally
  4. Mechanism India: GI Act 99
  5. Problem/issue with GI Act?
  6. Pakistani Basmati
  7. Meerut scissors
  8. Madurai Malli
  9. Entire list?
  10. Mock Questions

What is GI tag?

  • Geographical Indication tag.
  • A GI tag =A particular item has originated from a particular region only.
  • For example: Kanchipuram Silk Saree, Alphanso Mango, Nagpur Orange, Kolhapuri Chappal, Bikaneri Bhujia, Agra Petha
  • So outsiders cannot sell other variety of teas with title/label “Darjeeling”, else they can be punished.

Why is GI-tag important?

  1. When a product is given GI status, its price increases in international market (because consumers in first world prefer such “exotic” items)
  2. It boosts exports.
  3. It can boost tourism.
  4. The poor farmers/artisans from the given region have to face less competition from fake guys selling bogus products.
  5. = indirectly leads to sustainable Development.
Difference between GI Vs. trademark?
GI Trademark
Product comes from a particular place/region. Product comes from a particular enterprise/company.
Right is enjoyed by a community / association of producers.=community right. Right enjoyed by only one person/company=individual right.
Given for “Goods” (physical stuff.) Can be goods (mobile, PC etc) or service (e.g.music, spa etc.).

GI Mechanism: Internationally

  1. Under WTO–> Trade related Intellectual property rights (TRIPS), the Member nations have to respect geographical indications.
  2. They’ve to take measures to prevent violation of GI rights. (e.g. order custom authorities seize bogus products.)
  3. If a product enjoys GI status in member nation “A” then, Member nation “B” shouldnot grant trademark for the same.

Multilateral register: problem area

  • For example, Darjeeling tea is given GI tag in India, under India law.
  • So if someone inside /from India is selling fake Darjeeling tea, he can be jailed/fined in India.
  • But If a Sri Lankan guy exporting fake Darjeeling tea to France, you cannot do anything in India.
  • You’ve to manually file petition in France’s court to protect your GI. (or India Government need pursue the matter via WTO).
  • So, to prevent such problem, you’ve to again apply for GI status in European Union’s office for “Protected Geographical Indication” (PGI).
  • =this is Gaddha Majoori (donkey labour) just like for getting MBA admission, you’ve to apply for so many entrance tests such as CAT, XAT, SNAP, CMAT etc. and each of them costs around 1000 rupees.

The ideal system should be:

  1. You register a product in GI office in your own country.
  2. Database is uploaded on WTO website and notification is served to all nations. (=multilateral register).
  3. Whoever sells fake stuff, in xyz country will be caught and prosecuted. And you don’t need to run from pillar to post in every foreign country, to protect your GI-tag.

But this “Multilateral register” system has not been established yet.

  • Because there is disagreement among WTO members.
  • EU wants this system compulsory for everyone.
  • But China, Hong Kong want this system compulsory for “only” those country that agree to participate in it.
  • However, the wine and liquor business lobby of Europe is very powerful. Hence they’ve managed to get WTO to negotiate for a multilateral GI register for Wine and liquor.
  • Such liquor register is hardly of any use to India because our “GI-expertise” is handicraft and agriculture products.
  • India wants a common GI register for all products and not just for liquors.

Mechanism in India: GI Act 99

Government of India enacted Geographical Indications of Goods  (Registration and Protection) Act in 1999. (Came into force in 2003). As per this act:

  1. Registrar of Geographical Indications= you’ve apply to this person.
  2. Intellectual Property Appellate Board to hear appeals over the decisions of the Registrar of Geographical Indications.
  3. Geographical Indications Registry (to keep the GI-database @Chennai.)
  4. GI can be given to agricultural, natural or manufactured goods originating in the said area.
  5. GI rights are given to an association of persons, producers, organization. (=it is a “community right”.)  Because geographical indications are not built up by one individual but by a community of persons
  6. Punishments for violating GI. (e.g. some guy selling “Banaras Saree” but they’re actually made in Bengal.)
  7. Registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years (can be renewed.)

Intellectual Property Rights (Imported Goods) Enforcement Rules, 2007

  • Customs authorities have the power to seize imported goods at the border, if there is prima facie evidence that xyz product is in infringing on the geographical indication of the rights holder
  • + Customs authorities don’t even need a court order to carry out such raid or seizure.

Problem/issues with GI Act?

  • India has huge social, cultural, ethnic, food diversities= thousands of products that would qualify for a geographical indication.
  • But Most of the people engaged in the production of such products are small households or small units, although in the same area.
  • So it is often difficult to organize them into associations and apply for the GI registration.

Pakistani Basmati

  • Basmati is a variety of rice originally grown in Punjab and Himalayan foothills.
  • Post 1947, Punjab was divided between India and Pakistan, so now both nations claim GI tag for Basmati rice.
  • After much negotiations, India and Pakistan decided to get a Joint GI for Basmati globally.
  • But the talks came to a halt soon after 26/11 attack in Mumbai.
  • Now Bangladesh also wants to be part of this joint GI for Basmati.
  • In the meantime, Philippines etc. are selling their rice as “Basmati” in EU and USA (despite the fact that Basmati is native to Indian subcontinent).

Meerut scissors

Madurai Malli

  • Recently got GI status under Indian Act.
  • It is for the first time, a handmade tool is given GI status in India.
  • Meerut Scissors are known for their sharpness.
  • They are preferred by industrial garment manufacturers.
  • They can be repaired, unlike other scissors that are thrown out after use.
  • Meerut scissors are made of carbon steel blades sourced from scrap metal found in cars, buses, trucks and railways.

Madurai Malli

GI tag meerut scissors

  • Recently granted GI status.
  • It is a jasmine flower grown in Madurai region of Tamilnadu.
  • Madurai Malli is mentioned in Tamil Literature since the Sangam age.( 5th cent.BC)
  • The price can be as high as Rs.2000 per kilogram.
  • Here comes the Problem= some clowns mixup other cheap varieties of Jasmine flowers and export them under the label of “Madurai Malli”.
  • Such fake Madurai Malli flowers donot have decent fragrance of original Malli. So foreign consumers think “this is not a good flower.” = demand falls in international market = Indian farmers suffer.
  • But Now GI status is given to Madurai Malli = such bad guys can be punished and legit farmers can get decent price for their produce**.
  • (**in theory, because we have not counted the “Middlemen” in the equation!)
  • Anyways, this is the first GI tag given to a flower in Tamil Nadu.
More GI Tags (List not exhaustive)
Item Place What is it?
Shankarpura mallige Karnataka Jasmine flower.
Navalgund Dhurries Karnataka Handwoven fabric
Karimnagar Silver Filigree Andhra They make artifacts by weaving/soldering Silver threads.
Palakkad madhalam Kerala hand-held drums
Darjeeling Tea W.Bengal Earlier other blends of cheap tea varieties mixed up and sold as Darjeeling tea abroad= they can be punished.
Mysore Silk Karnataka Self explanatory.
Tirukanur Papier Mache Pondicherry dolls and idols made up of glue and paper.
Villianur Terracotta Pondicherry can be moulded in virtually any thickness, and so it can produce idols up to 30 feet in height. This is not possible with most other forms of terracotta
Matti Gulla Karnataka Type of brinjal, rich in iron.

Applied (and waiting)

(although information can be outdated)

Place Characteristic
Pokkali rice Kerala grows in the saline waters of the coastal areas with disease-resistant quality. No fertilizer/pesticide used.
Bangalore Blue Grapes Around Banglore originally an American variety, introduced here 150 years ago. Acid-sugar blend of the fruit is perfect for wine making.
Dindigul locks TN Dindigul locks are mango shaped iron and brass locks. They are handmade and each one is unique in design and system.
Nimari’ chillies and the ‘Malwi’ potatoes MP Malwi potatoes are significant because they contain negligible quantities of starch, which is highly suitable for manufacturing chips and wafers

GI Tags: Entire list?

  • Download this PDF file (click me). It contains name of goods given GI status (till July 2012). You don’t have to mugup all of them but only those originating from your state for “Profile based interview questions”.
  • +any other names that sound important from “Culture” point of view (in GS Mains paper 1)

Mock Questions

Q1. Which of the following are eligible to apply for GI-tag in India?

  1. Agriculture produce
  2. Handicrafts
  3. Manufactured goods.

Answer choices

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of them

Q2. Correct statements about GI Act 1999 are

  1. Provides for GI registration for any Goods or services associated with a particular region in India.
  2. GI status is given for a period of 10 years at a time.
  3. Recently Madurai Scissors and Meerut Malli were given GI-protection under this act.

Answer choice

  1. Only 1 and 3
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 2
  4. All of them.