THE GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS OF GOODS (REGISTRATION AND PROTECTION) ACT, 1999

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The name or indication used in an article or commodity to signify its origin and geographical region is termed as the geographical indication. The object of using geographical indication is to certify that the article contains certain features and reputation due to its geographical importance. The Agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual property Rights (TRIPS) concluded at the auspices of World Trade Organization contains elaborate provisions for the protection of geographical indication as an Intellectual Property. To be in conformity with international law, the Parliament enacted The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 to prescribe uniform standards for the protection of geographical indication.

The Registrar of Geographical Indication shall be the Controller-General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks under the Trade Marks Act, 1999 to discharge the functions under the Act. The Act provides for the establishment of Geographical Indications Registry according to the provisions of the legislation. A register shall be maintained by the registry to enter the name and address of the owner, description of the product etc as prescribed. The owner shall obtain registration for the geographical indication for any commodity or certain class of commodity in a particular location of the country. The registrar shall categorize the goods according to international classification for registration of such goods.

The Act prohibits the registration of geographical indications which would mislead or cause uncertainty to the public and the indications that the law prohibits. A geographical indication cannot be registered if such indication includes outrageous or obscene matter and such other reasons specified under the Act. The registration for a geographical indication shall be obtained by any organization or group of individuals or any authority constituted under the law by filing an application to the registrar in the method prescribed by the enactment. The application shall include a declaration stating the way in which geographical indication provides to assign the article as instigating from a particular locality with regard to the feature or other characters, that the article is special due to its geographical origin, environment and other factors and the manufacture, processing and arrangements are ensued from such locality or region.

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The application for registration shall be advertised by the registrar after being accepting the application, whether with certain stipulations or limitations. Where an application has been accepted and no objection has been raised, the registrar shall permit the registration of geographical indication. On registration, the owner acquires the right over such geographical indication for a term of ten years and shall be renewed after the expiry of the period. An unregistered geographical indication will not get legal protection and cannot institute a proceeding for infringement. The registration grants the owner restricted right to use the indication and initiate legal proceedings for infringement.

The decision of the registrar shall be challenged before the Appellate Board by the aggrieved party by filing an appeal. The Act penalizes a person for the application of false geographical indication and improper description given in the declaration to an article. The registrar appointed under the Act shall exercise the powers of a civil court and the orders made by the registrar shall have the status of decree issued by the civil court. The Act also empowers the Central Government to formulate rules in certain areas prescribed under the Act.

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The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 has recognized and protected the names of articles which encourage the manufacturer to invest in maintaining the standards and values of such articles. The Act has also increased the reputation of the articles and enhanced the stability in charges for the products containing geographical indication. The manufactures concentrate to conserve the traditional methods and increase the use of natural products.