Geographic Indication (GI) of goods is a sign used on the products belonging to a country or a particular region from where the product has been originated. Such goods possess certain quality that are distinctive and differentiated from other competitive products by the place it is geographically located. The main office of GI Registry is located in Chennai where all the applications are forwarded for registration. Few registered geographic indications in India include Darjeeling tea from West Bengal, Pochampalli Ikat from Andhra Pradesh, Mysore Sandal Soap from Karnataka etc.
Search and Clearance
Conducting a search for GI of goods is not obligatory under the law, however, keeping in mind the potential risks and costs involved, it is critical to do a thorough search before proceeding with registration. The basic objective is to identify the potential risks or liabilities that subsist by choosing to use a sign in connection with the products originated from the location. Costs involved in conducting a search is quite insignificant comparing the efforts and capital involved in rebranding due to infringing rights of other parties. Keeping in mind the relevance of such product and reputation such product would generate over the period, it is essential to get clearance at an early stage. False use of geographic indications by traders can also hamper the good will or bring bad repute to such product hence, it needs protection through registration. GI search can be done through online database. However, it is extremely essential that a proper search is conducted by professionals who are experienced and well aware of the procedures involved. Intellect Juris has a team of experts that provides search and clearance services thereby assisting clients in selecting a particular sign for registration of GI with the Registry.
After a GI search is completed, an application for the same can be filed with the GI Registry. An application can be filed under the prescribed form for a single class or for multiple class along with prescribed fees. A statement of case has to be attached along with additional representations. In India the following types of application can be filed with the registry:
Ordinary application: An application which is to be registered with the GI of India.
Convention application: An application that is already registered with a convention country and is to be filed in India. Proof of registration in the home country to be submitted along the form.
Single class application: Where an application for registration includes specification of goods in a single class.
Multiple application: Where an application for registration includes specification of goods in multiple class.
On receipt of application, the examiner scrutinizes the application and lists out deficiencies in the preliminary examination which is communicated to the applicant. The time period of one month is allotted to the applicant to reply to deficiencies. Pursuant to compliance of deficiencies, the Registrar shall constitute an Consultative Group to ascertain the correctness of particulars furnished in the application and statement of case. Based on the observations a final examination report is issued. Within the period of two months, the applicant has to incorporate such amendments or put forward his observation or apply for a hearing. Once the application is accepted by the Registrar, the same is published in the GI Journal. Any person who wants to oppose the registration can do so within period of four months of the publication of GI in the Journal. It can be made to the Registrar in the form of an application stating the grounds of opposition along with the prescribed fees. If no opposition is filed, the Registrar shall enter the GI in PART A of the Register and issue the Registration Certificate. The term of a registered GI is for a period of ten years which can be renewed for a further period.
The registration of a GI confers an exclusive right over the owner, a monopoly to put into use such GI for commercial benefits. GIs are essential indicators or signs of a particular product that can be distinguished from other competitive products in the market. Deceptive products sold in the market by unauthorized traders not only tarnish the standard of the original product but cause unfair competition by creating confusion regarding establishment, manufacturing process or commercial process. Hence, it is essential for the registered owner to continuously monitor for potential infringement and enforce their rights.
Civil remedies can be enforced by filing a suit for infringement at a District Court or High Court having jurisdiction. The following forms of civil relief are available:
- Discovery of documents.
- Damages or accounts of profits.
- Delivery-up of the infringing labels and indications for destruction or erasure.
The Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 ensures that the owner of the GI can take criminal action against infringer. Criminal action lies in case of:
- Falsifying and falsely applying geographical indications to goods.
- Selling goods to which false geographical indications is applied.
- Falsely representing a geographical indication as registered.
- Improperly describing a place of business as connected with the geographical indications registry.
- Falsification of entries in the register.
A product registered as a GI represents the exquisite quality that distinguishes it from other similar products. It is used as an indication to identify the handicraft or agricultural product or manufacturing good from the place of origin which have developed a reputation or good will in their own relevant market.
Intangible assets such as these have commercial value and contribute to the socio economic prosperity of a country. However, unfair business practices cause loss in terms of good will and revenue for the genuine owners as well as mislead the consumers who buy the copied product due to the standard maintained by the original product. Therefore, GI registration is extremely vital and must to be meticulously handled with utmost dedication by law professionals specialized in Intellectual Property Rights.
Intellect Juris has a team of legal experts that mentors the clients in understanding the legal scenario involved with registration and using such GIs for commercial usage. We also advise our clients on utilizing an intellectual property as source of generating investments and gaining utmost benefits. Intellect Juris plays a strategic advisory role by counseling clients in a wide range of transactions.