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  FAQ



GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATORS FAQ's

  1. What is the legal position relating to geographical indications of goods in India?
  2. What is a Geographical Indication?
  3. Can a geographical indicator be registered in the name of an individual?
  4. Who administers the registration of geographical indication?
  5. What are the prohibitions against the registration of geographical indications?
  6. What is the procedure for registration?
  7. What happens to the application for registration in the Registry of Geographical Indications?
  8. Is it possible to amend and correct the entries in the register of geographical indicators?
  9. What is the duration of a geographical indications?
  10. What are the remedies available to the infringement of geographical indications?
  11. Is there a period of limitation for indication of criminal cases?

1. What is the legal position relating to geographical indications of goods in India?

Prior to the enactment of Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. There was no enactment relating to geographical indications. Prior to this enactment, a misdescription or false representation relating to a geographical indicators was considered as an act of passing off. Now after the passing of this Act, registration of a geographical indication is mandatory. Some of the most famous Indian Geographical Indicators are Darjiling Tea, Basmati Rice, Kanjeepuram sarees, etc. This legislation was also to give effect to the obligations India voluntarily assumed by becoming the member of WTO TRIPS Agreement and Paris Convention on the Protection of Industrial Property.

2. What is a Geographical Indication?

It is an Indication which, identifies the goods with a particular geographical location regarding the origin of the goods. It will be available to agricultural goods, natural goods or even manufacture goods. For a geographical indication to be registrable, the goods should display a unique quality, reputation or other characteristic attributable to its geographical origin, such as the climate or soil qualities, processing and production methods etc. It is possible to cover even handicrafts and foodstuff under the Act.

3. Can a geographical indicator be registered in the name of an individual?

Normally, a geographical indicator is a community or a group right. Hence it is not possible to get Geographical Indication registration in the name of an individual.

4. Who administers the registration of geographical indication?

A statutory body called Geographical Indication Registry has been established under the Act. The Registry maintains a Register of Geographical Indications and the Register is maintained in 2 parts viz, Part-A and Part-B.
Part A contains the essential characteristics of the goods and the name of the Registered Owner.
Part B contains the rules relating to the registration of the Authorized Users of that Geographical Indicator

5. What are the prohibitions against the registration of geographical indications?

  1. Indications which are likely to deceive or cause confusion.
  2. Indications which would be contrary to any law.
  3. Indications which contain scandalous or obscene matter.
  4. Indications which would hurt the religious sentiments of people.
  5. Indications which are generic in character.

6. What is the procedure for registration?

Any association of persons or organization or Statutory Authority can apply for registration and the application should contain:

  1. A statement as to how the indication connotes specific quality, reputation or other characteristic which, are essentially due to the geographical environment, natural and human factors, special methods of production, processing or preparation, which takes place in the said geographical area.
  2. The class of goods sought to be covered by the registration.
  3. The geographical map of the territory in which, the goods originate.
  4. Method of appearance of the geographical indicators on the goods.
  5. Particulars of the procedures of the authorized users of the geographical indications.

A single application can be made covering the different classes of goods and in that case, prescribed fee for each class must be paid.

In the case of registration of foreign geographical indications, the application should contain an address for services located in India.

7. What happens to the application for registration in the Registry of Geographical Indications?

The application may be accepted either absolutely or conditionally. In case of refusal or conditional acceptance of the registration, the Registrar shall record in writing the grounds for refused or conditional acceptance stating the reasons for such decisions.

After the acceptance of the application, the application will be advertised in the Geographical Indication Journal and within 3 months of such advertisement any person can file an opposition proceedings against the registration.

The Registrar will forward the copy of the opposition to the applicant and within 2 months of receipt of opposition copy, the applicant should lodge a counter statement against the opposition.

If the applicant fails to lodge the counter statement, the application would be deemed to have been abandoned.

After this procedure is over, the parties are permitted to submit evidence in support of their respective cases.

After the submission of evidence, the Registrar will give an opportunity to the parties for an oral hearing and thereafter the matter will be decided in a quasi-judicial manner. Foreign entities wanting to lodge opposition will be required to furnish security for costs.

8. Is it possible to amend and correct the entries in the register of geographical indicators?

YES. Section 15 of the Act provides for making corrections and amendments to the entries in the register either before or after the registration of geographical indications.

9. What is the duration of a geographical indications?

The initial Registration of a Geographical Indication shall remain valid for a period of 10 years each. A grace period of 2 years has been provided for restoring the registration of geographical indications that has lapsed due to non payment of renewal fee.

10. What are the remedies available to the infringement of geographical indications?

The law provides both civil and criminal remedies.

Civil remedies include injunctions (Interim and permanent), damages, delivery up of the infringing goods for destruction and forfeiture of the goods that bear false representation of an existing Geographical Indication.

The criminal remedies may involve punishment to the offender which can be a minimum mandatory sentence of 6 months imprisonment and maximum of 3 years and the minimum mandatory fine of Rs.50,000/- and a maximum of Rs.2 lakhs. In case of subsequent convictions of the same offence, the minimum mandatory sentence will be one year imprisonment and fine of Rs.2 lakhs.

11. Is there a period of limitation for indication of criminal cases?

The law provides that the right to initiate a criminal case comes to an end after the expiration of 3 years from the commission of offence charged or 2 years after the discovery thereof by the prosecutor, whichever is earlier. The infringement of geographical indicator is a cognizable offence and the investigation has to be carried out by an officer with the rank of a Deputy Superintend of Police.

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