Geographical Indications (GI) for Products are described as IPR type that typically refers to a nation’s geographical indications. A name like this provides a sense of quality and uniqueness, primarily due to its roots in a specific geographical location, region, or nation. Geographic indicators are protected as an aspect of IPRs under Articles 1(2) and 10 of the Paris Convention regarding the Preservation of Industrial Property. They are also covered by Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was included in the Uruguay Round of GATT discussions’ final agreements.

Perhaps as a signatory to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), India passed the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act in 1999. GI is an essential intellectual property right used in commerce to indicate the source of the goods. The inability to accomplish the goal is due to a lack of knowledge among GI stakeholders and the absence of qualitative check procedures.

GI Challenges in India

India might just have unwittingly made it highly challenging for its agricultural growers to obtain GI protection. However, under Section 9 of the Act, which prohibits the registration of any GIs considered to be general labels or indications of products, an indication becomes generic when it returns to the common sphere and is not or no longer protected in its place of origination, or when it has fallen out of use in that nation.

It should be emphasised that TRIPS leaves it entirely to the decision of the nation of origin to determine whether a specific geographic name has become general or otherwise. As a consequence, it will be up to the countries of WTO signatories to determine if such a particular GI has now turned general or ought to be preserved. It is argued that India must have limited the range of genericide as strictly as possible, allowing its courts to assess which terms are generic and which are not based solely on the circumstances in India and not on their presence in consumer markets. Therefore, the more regions and situations we investigate, the more likely the word is generic, particularly given the zeal with which enterprises in the “Age of exploration” try to undermine GIs.

Global GI Challenge

IPR protection has recently taken centre stage. Established nations, which own the majority of intellectual property with regard to advanced expertise innovations, implement IPR agreements to protect their interests and frequently complain about the insufficiency of IPR protections in emerging regions, accusing them of IP piracy. Established countries, particularly those with GI goods, have passed legislation to safeguard their genetic resources. Thailand’s one-of-a-kind GI protection scheme aims to address the issue of origin-based identity exploitation. Thailand’s GI Act was created in response to the obligations of the international business system and in response to biopiracy involving the country’s well-known Thailand’s jasmine rice. The fear of biopiracy was cited as the primary motivator for the passage of the GI law.

Growing commercial liberalisation via multilateral trade agreements with economies like the United States, as well as an effort to safeguard its national “resources” by securing a patent for rice genes from the USPTO, have produced a scenario that has begun to put GI protection in Thailand under threat. This is owing to the limited duration of protection for patents issued in the United States. Moreover, Thailand hasn’t ever advocated for the patent rights of living organisms in global economic deals on patents.

There are recommendations on ways to tackle such problems, such as beginning discussions that go beyond the current request for GI protection extension or updating its unique national system for protecting GI by including protection of GI plants’ genetic resources. Such proposals, however, come with a cost, and the intended consequence is uncertain. Addressing the problem of automated protection of GI plants’ genetic reserves inside the GI protection framework is considerably more difficult, while opposition to the unique system of GI protection is criticising it in a series of multilateral trade agreements. Issues such as whether the government would be better served by focusing its energies on other aspects of growth that are more certain to provide long-term results. Although raising consumer knowledge regarding GIs, for instance, is usually a good idea, it should be remembered that GI advocacy is costly and does not guarantee long-term advantages. Given the societal, cultural, and economic significance of GIs in Thailand, it is vital and worthwhile to try and find win-win alternatives that satisfy both opponents and supporters of GI protection. Several Thai GIs are agriculture-based in nature and include a diverse range of stakeholders, from destitute rural people to GI exporters. Loss of “GI assets” owing to insufficient protection could have a significant influence on several of the rural poor’s livelihoods.

Conclusion: Mostly on the world stage, the Geographic Indicators are still a work in progress given the reality that wines and spirits are currently protected under Article 23 under TRIPS, while additional products are not. Therefore, India must demand the expansion of Geographical Indications (GI) protection to additional products in addition to wines and spirits through modifying Article 23 of the TRIPS Agreement.

A licensed GI tag prohibits the owner from using GI’s registered mark or identity on any identical goods or deceiving the registered product. Since the passage of the TRIPS Agreement, there’s been a greater understanding of the importance of proper geographic indication protection, including all products. Furthermore, the World Trade Organisation debates in the sphere of industrial as well as agricultural goods highlight the growing relevance of raising the degree of geographical indication preservation of wines and spirits to all goods. Countries must recognise that protection for GIs is effectively supplied through national laws because it is the terms of the agreement, not the existing federal regulations, that offer protection for GIs. Since it increases the chances of accessing the market for such goods, such protection is a useful marketing tool that adds value to exports. The GI tag is a necessary component for developing and sustaining abstracts as well as the uniqueness of a product’s essentials and qualities. India isn’t far behind when it comes to pursuing intellectual property in a lawful manner.

Disclaimer: The present article intends to provide general guidance on the subject, and you can also consult us in your specific case.

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    Khadeeja Zaidi is an undergraduate student studying B.A.LL.B (Hons) from the Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. Khadeeja aspires to be an expert in Cyber Law, Intellectual Property Rights and Technology Law. Along with her academics, Khadeeja is fond of writing blogs, posts, and articles highlighting contemporary issues revolving around Cyber Space and Intellectual Property Law.