Geographical Indication (GI) tag

Geographical Indication (GI) tag


A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess certain qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.

In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. The qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin.

Article 22.1 of the TRIPS Agreement (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) defines geographical indications as “…indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member [of the World Trade Organization], or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.”

India as a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) enacted the Geographical indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,1999 has come into force w.e.f 15 September 2003.

What rights does a geographical indication provide?

The right to use a protected geographical indication belongs to producers in the geographical area defined, who comply with the specific conditions of production for the product.

The GI tag ensures that none other than those registered as authorized holder are allowed to use the popular product name.

However, a protected geographical indication does not enable the holder to prevent someone from making a product using the same techniques as those set out in the standards for that indication.

Type of products for which GI can be used

Geographical indications are typically used for agricultural products but not limited to agricultural products only. It is also used for foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts, and industrial products.

A geographical indication may also highlight specific qualities of a product that are due to human factors found in the product’s place of origin, such as specific manufacturing skills and traditions.

Protection of geographical indications

Protection for a geographical indication (GI) is granted by a national (regional) competent authority. In some countries, a special body carries the responsibility for GI protection; and somewhere, the national intellectual property (IP) office carries out this function.

Though, GI is protected in different countries and regional systems through many ways. There are four main ways to protect a geographical indication:

  1. sui generissystems (special regimes of protection)- protection for a registered geographical indication will remain valid unless the registration is cancelled.
  2. Collective or certification marks system– generally protected for renewable ten-year periods.
  3. Methods focusing on business practices, including administrative product approval schemes; and
  4. through unfair competition laws.

Protection may be requested by a group of producers of the product identified by the geographical indication. In some jurisdictions, protection may also be requested by a national competent authority such as, a local government authority.

Required condition for GI protection

  • A sign must qualify as a geographical indication under the applicable law and not be subject to any obstacles to registering a geographical indication (GI).
  • The good identified by the GI needs to have a link (a given quality, reputation or other characteristic) to the geographical origin.

Significance of Geographical Indication (GI)

  1. Benefits to local community- GI protection encourages the preservation of biodiversity, local know-how and natural resources. In this way, there are potential benefits to local communities in India.
  2. Enhance economy and soft power- GI ecosystem can enhance economic prosperity of the manufacturers and producers. It can mitigate the issue of poor pay for talent, urban migration, and also low female participation in labour force. So, it can boost the regional economic development.
  3. Entrepreneurship growth- The talent available can be moved to entrepreneurship where temporary job workers can monetise their skills and expand their business. GI tag encourages and motivate the marketers to expand their business at a global level.
  4. Image and Reputation- The protection of GI creates a positive image and reputation of the products in consumer’s mind which in turn rewards the producers with better return.
  5. Reduce urban migration- The hyper-localized nature of GI has potential to reduce urban migration and conserve India’s ancient crafts, culture and foods.
  6. Increase tourism and trade- The protection of GI tag builds a global reputation for the products. Thus, it helps in the growth of tourism industry of that particular region as well. GI has great potential to play a big role in trade between countries.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

What do you mean by GI tag or what is a GI tag?

It is a sign used on certain products that have a specific geographical origin and possess certain qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.

The 1st product to get a GI tag in India was?

Darjeeling Tea.

In India GI is governed by?

Geographical indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,1999 that come into force w.e.f 15 September 2003.

What are the total numbers of GI tag of India?

547 (till December 2023).

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