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Intellectual Property (IP) in India: A Decade of Progress Part 13
India being predominantly an agricultural country, it is not surprising that one-fourth of the registered GIs are agricultural products, including food stuffs. The GI tag helps protecting exclusive products specific to a geographic location. A GI registration can pave the way for local food and agricultural products to get better branding and marketing in domestic and international markets.
Earlier this year in March, nine organic and exotic agricultural products from Northeast India were accorded Geographical Indication (GI) registration. Geographical Indication (GI) accorded products are: Assam Karbi Anglong Ginger, Assam Tezpur Litchi, Meghalaya Khasi Mandarin, Sikkim Large Cardamom, Mizoram Bird Eye Chilly, Manipur Kachai Lemon, Tripura Queen Pineapple, Arunachal Orange, Nagaland Tree Tomato. The Union Government owned North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (NERAMAC) had played an important role in getting the above mentioned products registered and the North Eastern Council (NEC) provided the much needed financial support to the initiative.
Here are a few food stuffs which have been given the GI status-
The Geographical Indications (GI) that have been registered for Darjeeling Tea in India are:
- The word ‘DARJEELING’
- The LOGO
They got registered as GIs (GI-Application No. 1 and 2) on July 1, 2004 and were the first GIs to be registered in India.
Prior to 1997, Tea Board had registered the specialty logos in various jurisdictions within the legal framework available, which was a step in the right direction. The DARJEELING Logo was created and registered in UK, USA, Canada, Japan, Egypt and under the Madrid Agreement covering Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland and former Yugoslavia by 1986.
The GI application was applied for tea grown in 87 gardens in the district of Darjeeling falling in Class 30, by TEA BOARD, a statutory authority of the Govt. of India established in1953 under the Tea Act, 1953 for the purpose of controlling Indian Tea Industry.
Due to the unique and complex combination of agro-climatic conditions prevailing in the region comprising the said 87 gardens within the district of Darjeeling and the production regulations imposed by the Board, tea produced in the region has the distinctive and naturally occurring organoleptic characteristics of taste, aroma and mouth feel which have on the patronage and recognition of discerning consumers all over the world.
Tea Board has successfully fought more than 15 cases against infringement and misuse of Darjeeling Tea, in order to protect its genuineness and rights as a GI holder.
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam applied for the registration of the Tirupathi Laddu, for GI tag under class 30. It received the GI tag on 15th September 2009.
Sri Vari Laddu popularly referred to as ‘Tirupathi Laddu’ is an eatable, offered as prasadam to the devotees after they worship Lord Venkateswara, the presiding deity at the Sri Vari Temple at Tirumala Hills at Tirupathi Andhra Pradesh.
The size and flavour are typical characteristics of Tirupathi Laddu. The Tirupati Laddu derives its sanctity, reputation and uniqueness from it being offered as naivedyam to the Lord. There are about 130 laddu workers producing about one lakh laddus per day.
Application for GI was made to curb sale of counterfeit versions by hawkers seeking to exploit the growing demand from visitors to the temple in 2008.
In 2009, a PIL was filed before the Madras High Court against the G.I. tag for the ‘Tirupati Laddu’ by Mr. R S Parveen Raj a resident of Thiruvananthapuram . That petition was dismissed on the grounds that an alternative and efficacious forum was available for adjudication of such a dispute. Under the G.I. Act, such a petition could have been filed either before the G.I. Registry or the IPAB.
An application for GI status for Bikaneri Bhujia, was applied by Bikaneri Bhujia Udhyog Sangh, Bikaner (Rajasthan) under Class 30 i.e. Food Products. It is manufactured by using a traditional formula of moth dal, chana dal, oil, salt and spices as ingredients.
There was no objection raised for its registration. However, a trademark infringement suit, Bikanervala v. Aggarwal Bikanervala (117 (2005) DLT 255), was filed, by the applicant.
Court restrained defendant from “manufacturing, selling, offering for sale, advertising, directly or indirectly dealing in food articles for human consumption under the impugned trade mark/trade name/infringing artistic label ‘AGGARWAL BIKANER WALA’ or from using any trade mark/trade name/infringing artistic work containing the name/mark ‘BIKANER WALA/BIKANERVALA’ or any other name/mark/artistic work which is identical or deceptively similar to the plaintiff’s trademark ‘BIKANERVALA’ “. The defendant was, however, granted two weeks time to adopt a different mark and packing label etc.
Malabar pepper is famous for its quality. It is said that the exorbitant price of pepper during the middle ages, forced the Portuguese to seek a sea route to reach India. Pepper is used as a spice and it has also got medicinal properties. Malabar pepper is cultivated in the geographic regions comprised in the Malabar region of the erstwhile Madras Presidency. Now these areas comprise in the states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Malabar pepper accounts for around 25 per cent of the entire world’s supply of pepper. The pepper is unique for its sharp, hot and biting taste. In order to maintain the genuineness of the quality and taste of Malabar Pepper, the Spice Board, was successful in its initiative to get a GI registration for it in 2007.
It is the first non-vegetarian dish in India to get the status of GI, in 2010. The origin of Hyderabad Haleem can be traced to the days of the Asaf Jahi dynasty, which ruled the State of Hyderabad (Deccan) in India, from 1724 A.D to 1948 A.D. It became an integral part of Hyderabadi cuisine during the rule of the seventh Nizam. The high-calorie haleem is a popular dish prepared during the Muslim month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast for around 12 hours and after iftaar, haleem is considered to be the best to consume because of its nutritious property.
The application for GI was applied in 2009 by Haleem Makers Association, under class 29. The authorised user is Pista House for making and selling Haleem.
The producers of ‘Hyderabad Haleem’ have been strictly and religiously following the traditional methods for making Hyderabad Haleem, without making any compromises with respect to the production process, resulting in ‘Hyderabad Haleem’ getting a unique place and identity among the consumers around the globe.
Authored by Sambhabi Patnaik.
Read Dr. Kalyan’s note on The Case of Indian Intellectual Property