The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) has directed the assistant registrar of the Geographical Indications Registry, Chennai, to proceed with registration of a geographical indication (GI) tag for Basmati rice according to the geographical demarcation conducted by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).
This means seven north Indian Basmati rice-producing states like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir will get the GI tag.
The appellate authority also asked the registrar to reconsider the matter of inclusion of uncovered areas, including Madhya Pradesh, in the area covered under the GI for Basmati. It has also dismissed two petitions from the Basmati Growers’ Association of Lahore, Pakistan, related to the matter.
A GI tag can be issued for agricultural, natural or manufactured goods that have a given quality, reputation or other characteristics attributable to its geographical origin. A GI registration gives the registered proprietor and authorised users the legal right to the exclusive use of the GI, and no unauthorised person can use the tag. Some of the examples of GI are Mysore Silk, Mysore Agarbathi, Kancheepuram Silk, Orissa Ikat, Channapatna Toys & Dolls, and Coimbatore Wet Grinder. Products sold with the GI tag get premium pricing also.
Commenting on the urgent requirement of registering the GI, IPAB Chairman Justice K N Basha and Technical Member Sanjeev Kumar Chaswal said Basmati rice was an iconic heritage of India.
APEDA, as a statutory authority related to exports of agricultural products, applied for the GI tag for Basmati, a special long grain aromatic rice grown in a particular geographical region of the Indian sub-continent. Historically, Basmati was a product of undivided India with a recorded history of over 200 years.
APEDA argued that a worldwide watch agency was appointed to monitor the trade mark registers worldwide for any third party attempted registration in the name of Basmati or any deceptive variations and it has taken legal action in 40 countries for alleged attempt of infringement. It has also successfully challenged an attempt by Ricetec, a US-based company, from claiming monopoly on the rice grains.
The order comes in an appeal filed by APEDA against the order of the assistant registrar in December 31, 2013, related to a dispute between the export promotion body and Madhya Pradesh and Daawat Foods for inclusion of some uncovered areas in the GI application filed. Agreeing to the arguments of Daawat Foods and others, the assistant registrar asked APEDA to amend the application to include the uncovered area with a map of the region clearly demarcating the area of production within 60 days from the date of the order on December 31, 2013. The IPAB has set aside this finding.
The IPAB has also dismissed an appeal filed by the Basmati Growers’ Association, Lahore, Pakistan, against the order passed by the assistant registrar on procedural grounds.
The association challenged the order stating that the area below the foothills of the Himalayas in the erstwhile Punjab province now in Pakistan was entitled to the GI tag for Basmati rice. The association’s GI tag recognition in Pakistan and an appeal against it is pending before the High Court Sindh, Karachi.