Launch of India’s First GI Store: A boon for products with local appellations

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On January 28, Suresh Prabhu, the Minister of Civil Aviation, unveiled the very first GI Store in the country at Dabolim International Airport in Goa. With the promise of launching 101 more stores across various airports in the country, the government aims at finding a place for indigenous products, globally. Although the aboriginal products are easily available, the objective for these government-owned stalls is to ensure the promotion of native craftsmen and artisans. Therefore, the next time you disembark from a Delhi to Goa flight, do not forget to get your hands on cashews and other unique wares.

The distance must be bridged across geographies to make specialty products available, is exactly something the Minister of Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu believes in. Effective collaboration with the state governments is brought about to ensure their local business thrives well.

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed with the Goa Government by the Civil Aviation Ministry directed at the promotion of products by local artisans and women’s self-help communities. Similar agreements with various other state governments are expected to soon fuel the cause.

Before we dive deeper into an evaluation of the new establishment, let us wrap our minds around the concept of Geographical Indications.

What are Geographical Indications?

Geographical Indications or GI is the sign that indicates products or commodities which originate from a particular region or territory. The quality and related characteristics of the product are traceable to a particular origin. This implies that GI tagged items can cover everything from Darjeeling tea to Nagpuri Oranges. The authenticity and uniqueness of geographically diverse items appeal to the customers, making them gravitate towards specialty products, thus, making the business leverage the best in terms of its offerings.

Typically used for products related to agriculture, wine and spirits, food and handicrafts, GI debars a third party to use the sign/indication that denotes authenticity to a particular origin, provided their product is not at par with the standards.

Protection of Geographical Indicators

The approach to the protection of GI varies from one country to another. The rules are framed in accordance with the economic conditions and legal framework of the country. Mainly, there are 3 ways in which GI can be protected—with the use of certification marks, Sui-Generis systems, and formulation of schemes related to product approval in business. The usage of such rights may exclusively be limited to products that comply with well-defined standards.

Some facts pertaining to GI and its usage are as follows:

  • Geographical Indications do not accord to any individual rights (such as trademarks or patents). GIs may only be used by producers who belong to a particular region/geographical area, in order to safeguard their collective rights.

  • Registration of GI ensures its protection for an unlimited duration of time. Therefore, the need for renewal is absent, unless the registration is terminated. The registration may be cancelled in case the product no longer complies with the conditions mentioned in the product specifications.

  • GIs cannot be used to protect the rights of non-agricultural or industrial products at European Union level, except for a few member states. Such states ensure that the products from a particular origin or geographical area are safeguarded through specific instruments, pertaining to the legal framework in the country. For instance, specific regulations in Switzerland govern the use of GIs for watches, and law in Germany shields GI for industrial products such as knives, cutlery, scissors etc.

Registration Process of GIs

The process of registration of Geographical Indications may be summed up in the following points:

  • Listing/definition of product specifications (including the characteristics of the product, details about the production process, details on the origin of materials used)

  • Filing the registration application to the national authorities. The authorities scrutinize the application and publish the same. From the day of the application begins, the opposition period wherein any person residing within the national territory may lodge a complaint or an objection to the application. In case there are no acceptable objections, the state ensures temporary national protection, eventually filing an application with the European Commission.

  • The European Commission examines the application, ensuring its compliance to conditions specified by law, followed by a three-month opposition period. Any member state or the third party may object the registration citing reasons for the objection.

  • In case the commission fails to reach an agreement within the three months of the opposition period, the European Commission makes a publication in the official journal of the EU.

  • The registration process is done and dusted with the enrollment of the name in the European Register of Destinations of Origins and Protected Geographical Indications.

The GI Logos: PDO and PGI

Products with Geographical Indications may be broadly classified into Product Designations of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGI). Application of PDO or PGI requires the producer to draft a ‘product specification’ document, listing or providing details on precise specifications of the product.

  • Protected Designations of Origin: PDO logos distinguish special commodities which have been produced and processed in a specific terrain or location. PDO products must include the ingredients from the area concerned and the know-how of regional producers. The linkage of the product to its geographical origin must be clear and traceable. All PDO products must require each stage in the production process to be carried out in a specific geographical area.

  • Protected Geographical Indications: Products identified by specific characteristics associating them to a particular region is marked by PGI logo. Unlike PDO products that have strictly region-bounded production procedure, PGI products may include materials procured from other regions. PGI products must have at least one stage in the process of production carried out in the area concerned.

Geographical Indications in India

The response on the establishment of nascent GI stores may be gradual, but there is no dearth of GI tagged products in India. In 2004-05, Darjeeling tea was labeled the first GI tagged product in India, only to add 321 more products to the list in the next few months.

The recent GI tag was granted to Madhya Pradesh on July 30, 2018 for Kadaknath breed of chicken.

Listed below are some of the registered geographical indications in India:

Geographical Indication Origin Type
Darjeeling Tea West Bengal Agricultural produce
Chanderi Sarees Madhya Pradesh Handicrafts
Aranmula Kannadi Kerala Handicrafts
Salem Fabric Tamil Nadu Handicrafts
Mysore Agarbathi Karnataka Manufactured product
Kancheepuram Silk Tamil Nadu Handicraft
Solapur Chaddar Maharastra Handicraft
Payyannur Pavithra Ring Kerala Handicraft
Navara Rice Kerala Agricultural Produce
Kotpad Handloom Fabric Odisha Handicrafts
Pochampally Ikat Telangana Handicrafts
Kullu Shawl Himachal Pradesh Handicraft
Madhubani Paintings Bihar Handicrafts
Phulkari Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan Handicrafts
Channapatna Toys and Dolls Karnataka Handicrafts
Muga Silk Assam Handicrafts
Kashmir Sozani Craft Jammu and Kashmir Handicrafts
Silver Filigree of Karimnagar Telangana Handicrafts
Monsooned Malabar Arabica Coffee Karnataka Agricultural produce
Kutch Embroidery Gujarat Handicrafts
Santipur Saree West Bengal Handicrafts
Handmade carpet of Bhadohi Uttar Pradesh Handicrafts
Balaramapuram Sarees and Cotton Fabrics Kerala Handicrafts

The establishment of GI stores shall ensure the availability of the most sought-after bound-to-origin products, allowing tourists to carry an authentic souvenir of the place they visit.