GIs for our products
There is need to give the legal protection to our state products against counterfeits and copycats in the national and international markets
GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION BY DR MEHRAJ-U- DIN BHAT
The advent of the globalization and free marketing economy has made competition tough among the producers in national and international markets. The producers strive to sell to the customers in such marketing condition and they achieve it through strategic brand management of their products. Most of these brands are built by the corporate sector which gets intellectual property rights or copyrights of their technology, innovation, creative designs, processes and trademarks and safeguard them legally against copycats and counterfeits.
However, the products emerging from communities collectively by using their unique skills stand to lose in such market situation due to lack of branding and most of the time if the community or a geographical place has earned a community brand identity of their products in the market, but it is exploited, copied and leveraged on their behalf by other producers due to the lack of legal cover to their trade. Therefore, it is important that such producers who produce products of a particular quality, from a particular place with certain history and some special skill employed in making that product or by using the unique processes, needs to have suitable legal rights on them so that the competitors will not freely ride on their reputation and the counterfeits and copycats do not dilute their brand reputation. This has made geographical indication as the most contentious issue of the intellectual property right in WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
TRIPS defines Geographical Indication (GI) as a special kind of branding that identifies a product as originating from a particular place, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of the product are essentially attributable to its geographical origin. Geographical Indication gives exclusive right to a region (town, province or country) to use a name for a product with certain characteristics that corresponds to their specific location. Geographical Indication of the goods is a community brand which distinguishes the products from other similar products and gives them legal protection against the other producer who may use illegally their name and reputation.
Geographical indication can be used on agricultural goods, natural goods, or manufactured goods and it certifies the products possess certain qualities or enjoys a certain reputation due to its geographical origin and enhance it marketability. GI is a self policing, competitors, business in the geographical area or mark owners will undoubtedly raise issues of infringement and failure to comply with certification standards among other things and the Governments do not have to commit additional enforcement resources to ensure the compliance.
In India Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act was passed in 1999 by the act of parliament and came into effect in 2003 and till date 151 products from handicraft, agriculture, manufacturing and foodstuff have got the Geographical Indication among which 97 products are in handicraft ,40 in agriculture, 12 in manufacturing, 3 in foodstuff. The Karnatka tops among all the states with 29 products with GI certification, followed by the Kerala with 19, Tamil Nadu 18 and Andrapradesh 18. The north and north eastern states have very few products with GI certification despite the unique historical background and repository of skills being used in producing innumerable products. This can be mainly attributed to the unawareness of the concept of the GI as the community branding of the products and the benefits of the GI tags in the national and international markets.
In J&K, the scope for GI trademarks have not been explored yet as there is a lack of awareness of the geographical indication of goods as the intellectual property right in J&K, Very little effort has been made to seek GI as community brands for our State products, as there are many products that are potential products for GI certification in our agricultural, horticulture and manufacturing sectors which have distinctiveness in their history, quality and processes and skills employed in them. However, the J&K has got very recently GI tags to three products of the handicraft such as Kashmir Pashmina, Kani Shawl and Kashmir Sozni craft. Their GI trademarks have acclaimed them as the brands of Kashmir origin and have extended their trade the legal cover against counterfeits and copycats. But there are other numbers of handicraft products produced with the unique skill and have attribution of geographical origin of Kashmir. These products are potential products for GI certification and are enumerated such as Khatamband, Walnut Wood Carving, Kashmir Paper Machi, Silk and woolen carpets, Namdas which deserve the community brand identification of Kashmir in national and international markets. Similarly there are number of products from agricultural and horticulture such as apples of Kashmir, Shopian Apples, White Honey, Pampore Saffron, Seabuckthorn of Leh, Apricot of Kargil, Basmiti of R S Pora etc., which are potential products for GI certification.
Therefore, for safeguarding the brand reputation of our indigenous State products from the brand dilution due to the counterfeits and copycats by misusing their reputation and deceiving the customers of their geographical origin, Geographical Indication as community branding of the goods needs to be given due attention for which it is important that our producers associations get strengthened. The state government’s role is only to pressure the union government for certification but the processes need be initiated by the producers themselves.
The author is working as a faculty member in J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute. He can be mailed on email@example.com
Lastupdate on : Thu, 22 Sep 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 22 Sep 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 23 Sep 2011 00:00:00 IST
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