Certain geographical names have acquired a lot of importance in commercial market particularly with regard to the goods uniquely associated with such names. Consequently, traders attach considerable value to the recognizing the source, particularly the place of origin of the goods, especially when the name of that place is taken as a synonym, necessarily after long and continues use, for some special quality associated with the product originating from that place for example, Paris perfume, Darjeeling Tea and Lucknow Chicken.
Persons producing such article will, justifiably, claim an exclusive right to use such geographical appellations in the description of their products, which implies that they would seek to prevent traders producing those goods elsewhere from appending these applications to their products for the simple reason that those descriptions are not true and it would be misleading the public as to the true supplies of those goods.
So, a geographical indication is a name or sign used or certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location (e.g. a town, region, or country). The geographical indication tells consumers that a product is produced in a certain place and has characteristics that are unique to that place. The use of geographical indication is an important method of indicating the origin of goods and services.
Meaning of Geographical Indication
Section 2(e) defines geographical indication as:
“Geographical indication” , in relation to goods, means an indication which identifies such goods as agricultural goods, natural goods or manufactured goods as originating, or manufactured in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin and in case where such goods are manufactured goods one of the activities of either the production or of processing or preparation of the goods concerned takes place in such territory, region or locality, as the case may be.
Explanation: For the purpose of this clause, any name which is not the name of country, region or locality of that country shall also be considered as the geographical indication if it relates to a specific geographical area and is used upon or in relation to particular goods originating form the country, region or locality, as the case may be.
Object and Purpose of the Act
The Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 was enacted to provide for the registration and better protection of geographical indications relating to goods in India. Its purpose is to protect the interests of the producers, manufacturers and consumers for being deceived by the falsity of the geographical origin.
Explanation to this provision states that any name which is not the name of a country, region or locality of that country shall also be considered as the geographical indication if it relates to a specific geographical area and is used upon or in relation to particular goods originating from that country, region or locality.
Registration of Geographical Indication
Section 8 provides that a geographical indication can be registered of any or all the goods comprised in a prescribed class of goods and in respect of a definite territory of a country or a region or a locality. It is also provided that the classification shall, as far as possible, conform to the international classification of goods. It further provides that where any question arises regarding classification of goods or the determination of the definite area it shall be determined by the registrar whose decision shall be final.
Section 9 prohibits the registration of certain geographical indications:
- the use of which could be deceptive or likely to cause confusion, or
- the use of which would be contrary to any law for time being in force, or
- which comprises or contains scandalous or obscene matter, or
- which comprises any matter likely to hurt the religions feeling of any class or section of citizens of India, or
- which comprises aby matter likely to hurt the religious feeling of any class or section of citizens of citizens of India, or
- which would otherwise be disentitled to production in court, or
- which are determined to be generic names or indications of goods and are, therefore, not or ceased to be protected in the country or origin, or which have fallen into in that country, or
- which, although literally true as to the territory, region or locality in which the goods originate, but falsely represent to the persons that the goods originate in another territory, region or locality.
What should application contain?
(a) A statement as to how the geographical indication services to designate the goods as originating from the concerned territory in respect of specific quality, reputation or other characteristics of which are due exclusively or essentially to the geographical environment, with its inherent natural and human factors, and the production, processing or preparation of which takes place in such territory, region or locality.
(b) The class of goods to which the geographical indication shall apply,
(c) The geographical map of the territory of the country or region or locality in which the goods originate or being manufactured,
(d) The particulars regarding the appearance of the geographical indication as whether it is comprised of the words or figurative elements or both,
(e) A statement containing such particulars of the producers of the concerned goods, if any proposed to be initially registered with the registration of the geographical indication as may be prescribed, and
(f) Such other particular as may be prescribed
Duration of Registration
Section 18 provides that the registration of a geographical indication and authorized user shall be for a period of 10 years. Both the registrations may be renewed from time to time on the payment of prescribed fee for a term of 10 years from the date of last renewal of registration for an indefinite period.
However, if the renewal is not effected within the prescribed or extended time, the Geographical indication or the authorized user as the case may be, is liable to be removed form the records.
Infringement of Geographical Indications
Sections 22 lays down the law relating to infringement of registered geographical indications.
A person who is not an authorized user of a registered geographical indication infringes it when he:
- Uses such geographical indication by any means in the designations or presentation of goods that indicates or suggests that such goods originate in a geographical area other than the true place of origin of such goods in a manner which misleads the persons as to the geographical origin of such goods; or
- Uses any geographical indication in such manner which constitutes an act of unfair competition including passing off in respect of registered geographical indications; or
- Uses another geographical indication to the goods with although literally true as to the territory, region or locality in which the goods originate, falsely represents to the persons that the goods originate in the territory, region or locality in respect of which such registered geographical indication relates.
(i) For the infringement of a registered geographical indicator, or
(ii) Relating to any right in a registered geographical indication, or
(iii) For passing off arising out of the use by the defendant of any geographical indication which is identical or deceptively similar to the geographical indication relating to the plaintiff, whether registered or unregistered shall be instituted before the District Court having jurisdiction to try the suit. The act provides civil and criminal remedies for falsely dealing with geographical indications.
Section 67 provides following civil remedies for the infringement of a registered geographical indication:
- Damages or account of profits,
- Delivery up of the infringing labels and indications.
Law Center-II, Faculty of law, University of law, 2nd Year, Student