The Government of India has proposed a slew of amendments to the rules governing Geographical Indications (GIs), particularly with regard to the rights of authorised users under the law. On September 16, 2019, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, or DPIIT) issued draft rules, which propose various amendments to the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) (Amendment) Rules, 1999 (“Principal Rules”):
Easier to apply as authorised user of GI
The key proposed change is to Rule 56, which deals with Authorised Users. Currently, the application for registration as an authorized user under Section 17 of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (“the Act”), must be made jointly by the registered proprietor and the proposed authorised user in Form GI-3. The draft suggests that the application for an authorised user can be made by the proposed authorised user alone, without requiring the consent of the registered proprietor. The one requirement is that the proposed authorised user must share a copy of the application with the registered proprietor and inform the Registrar of the copy having been duly served.
The official fee for making such applications is also proposed to be waived off completely. In other words, a person can apply to be an authorised user for free. The registration of an authorised user of a GI is for a period of ten years. Presently, an official fee of INR 1000 is levied for the renewal of registration of an authorised user of a GI. However, the draft rules propose waiving of such fees for renewal of registration of an authorised user.
These changes, if they go through, has the potential to expand the GI universe considerably. Persons who were unable to apply previously because of the absence of consent from registered proprietors will now find it much easier to apply. Similarly, a large number of GI registrations relate to goods that are manufactured in cottage industries or by even smaller enterprises. Any disincentive for filing due to the administrative fees is now reversed.
The other key change is the elimination of the requirement to file a request for issuing a registration certificate in Form GI-3 under Rule 59, where no opposition is filed to an application advertised/re-advertised in the Journal within the period specified. The draft rules also propose that the details of priority date and appropriate office of GI are no longer required as entries in the register under sub rule (2) of Rule 59 of the principal rules. Further, the requirement of submitting unmounted representation of the GIs while applying for duplicate certificates is also proposed to be removed.
The due date for submitting objections and suggestions can be made before October 16, 2019 to Ms. Pooja Swaroop, Deputy Secretary, DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India or by email at email@example.com The draft rules can be found here (See).
GI Logo and Tagline
The DPIIT on June 24th, 2019 also introduced a logo and tagline that can be used by Indian GI products to indicate that they are protected under the law. The stated objective of the new logo and tag is to “help create awareness amongst both the GI producers as well as consumers, so as to increase the marketability and saleability of these products”.
The logo, consisting of the letters ‘G’ and ‘I’, is shaped as a geolocation pin, signifying that “each GI has specific characteristics which are attributable to its place of origin”. Using the tri colours of the Indian flag, the GI logo will operate essentially as a certifying mark to identify all Indian products registered as GIs. This will potentially assist consumers in recognizing authentic GI product sand protect the interests of genuine GI producers. The GI tagline अतुल्य भारत की अमूल्य निधि (Invaluable Treasures of Incredible India) is intended to “assist in effective branding and promotion of GIs”. The Government has put out guidelines for applying for the use of the GI logo and tagline, which will be available for free, subject to an application being filed in the prescribed format, and prior approval from the DPIIT. The guidelines are available here: (See).
These reforms are clearly a sign that DPIIT is trying to increase awareness of GIs amongst the general public, and to protect the genuine interest of authorised users of GIs.