Twenty yrs of GI Act in India: Achievements and way forward
The current statistics of GI registration are very encouraging and currently as on date 1143 GI applications have been filed with 504 registrations been completed
Geographical Indications (GI) have really become a buzz over the last few years. The GI Act of 1999 came in to force on 15 September 2003, and today the statute has completed 20 years of coming in action. With all States competing to register new products in agricultural, manufacturing, handicrafts, and food stuff the numbers of GIs registered in India has become conspicuous with all States identifying their heritage products and getting them registered.
India has come a long way in this last 20 years and for this huge kudos needs to be given to the Geographical Indication Registry at Chennai for their support and facilitating the artisans, weavers, and stakeholders of GIs in their journey of registration of the products along with authorised user registrations over the last 20 years.
The current statistics of GI registration are very encouraging and currently as on date 1143 GI applications have been filed with 504 registrations been completed. The 504th GI registered product being the Ramban Sulai Honey from J&K. Further the awareness for authorised user’s registrations have also caught up and more than 30,000 applications have been received out of which 20,000 have been registered. An Authorised user is a user who takes the authorisation from the Registered Proprietor to use and operate the GI like an owner and gets all the rights like the registered proprietor.
The top five States in the GI registration are Tamil Nadu with 58 registered products, followed by Uttar Pradesh at 54 products, Karnataka at 44, Kerala at 35 and Maharashtra at 32 GI registered products. The two Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana rank ninth and twelfth, respectively, in terms of the number of registered GI products. Andhra Pradesh has 18 registered GI products, while Telangana has 16.
Subhajit Saha, who has been involved in the facilitation of GIs since 2004 believes that there is no better time to focus on GIs than now to spur the economic growth. He believes that GI does not sell but you need to create a story around the product to sell the GIs. The best thing is that no two GI products are the same and hence they don’t compete. New concepts like GI tourism, GI brand ambassadors, GI museums in cities will play a great role to sensitize the gap between the producers and consumers and create a strong GI ecosystem.
Another area to focus is the branding of GIs. GIs must be brought into the branding ecosystem to make them more visible by creating new marketing strategies and promotion of the products. Innovative designs with good packaging will be a game changer.
Lastly, quality will play a major role in GI products. There is an immense need for bringing in quality standards and certifications by government agencies for authenticity of GI products which will boost export markets. Quality standards and phytosanitary hygiene will play a major role if India would like to export their agricultural GI products like mangoes, chillies, pulses, cashews, onions etc.
To conclude states should consider launching their own GI policy to help create a robust ecosystem for producers and consumers to get the best out of this form of Intellectual Property Rights and there by protect the fine connect between Product, People and Places of India.
(The author is a registered GI Agent and Head of Legal and IPR at Resolute Group of Companies)