Geographical indications are a visible sign on a product which describe a specific geographical origin depicting the quality or reputation of the product. Geographical indications like patents, copyrights and trademarks provide primary rights and protection to owners. Darjeeling Tea, Chanderi Saree, Kanjeewaram silk, etc. are some of geographical indication examples. India Currently has 236 products registered as Geographical Indicators. In 1999 when India became a member state of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, the legislation for the protection of geographical indication was enacted.
The main objective of Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 is as follows :-
- To formulate a specific law, so as to regulate the governing principles of geographical indications and to protect the interest of right holders.
- To safeguard consumers from deception and eradicating unauthorized use of geographical indications.
- To increase exports of goods with Indian geographic indications in the international market.
A geographical indication may be protected in the following ways :-
- In accordance with the provisions laid down in the Consumer Protection Act;
- through passing off action in the court;
- and by using certification or collective marks.
Generally speaking, geographical indications are protected in different jurisdictions by using combinations of two or more of the approaches outlined above. The approaches, however, largely depend upon the legal tradition, historic and economic condition of a particular jurisdiction.