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Kashmir Pashmina finally awarded goods patent
25
Sep '08
Ending two years of litigation the Kashmir Handmade Pashmina Promotion Trust (KHPPT) and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) on the one hand, and the Crafts Development Institute (CDI) and the Tahafuz, on the other, resolved their differences leading to the award of Geographical Indications of Goods patent to Kashmir Pashmina.

The Geographical Indication (GI) which was awarded on September 12 followed an agreement among the four parties on August 25, 2008, actively brokered by the union minister of state for commerce, Jairam Ramesh. The GI was awarded to Tahafuz after KHPPT withdrew its objections last week.

The KHPPT is a body of former shahtoosh, and pashmina workers that was created at the behest of WTI and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to promote traditional Kashmir Handmade pashmina.

The CDI is an autonomous body created by the Government of India and the Jammu and Kashmir State Government to promote handicrafts in the state. As a precursor to registering a series of GI, the CDI, after filing the GI applications, created Tahafuz as a society of diverse Kashmiri handicraft artisans.

The agreement effectively gives powers to both KHPPT and pashmina workers within Tahafuz to form a joint body which would administer the Kashmir pashmina appellation. This award conclusively sets at rest objections raised by any non-India parties and from now on only those pashmina products coming out of the Kashmir valley that adhere to the product specifications registered with the GI registry can qualify to call themselves Kashmir Pashmina.

The GI concept for Kashmir Pashmina was strongly recommended by the Wildlife Trust of India and the International Fund for Animal Welfare as early as 2001 after it conducted a census of shahtoosh workers in the Kashmir Valley and positioned Kashmir Pashmina as a premium product that would provide a viable alternative to the banned shahtoosh products reducing the poaching pressure on the Tibetan antelope (Panthelops hodgsonii) commonly known as the chiru.

"We had also pointed out that over 600 years of goodwill created by Kashmir Pashmina workers was being used by those who had nothing to do with the product and at the same time products from all over the world were masquerading as Cashmere or Kashmir Pashmina," Aniruddha Mookerjee, Senior Director WTI and Trustee KHPPT said.

Found in the upper ridges of the Tibetan plateau in China, the animal is endangered due to intensive poaching for its wool. Chiru under fleece yields the finest of wool and it is used for making highly prized shahtoosh shawls.
Trading in derivatives of the Tibetan Antelope has been banned by law in India, Nepal and China. International trade in any form has also been prohibited by CITES, which lists the animal in Appendix I.

Although India does not have a resident chiru population as the Tibet Autonmous Region of China does, about 250 animals migrate to Ladakh inJammu & Kashmir every summer and return by winter. The animals are poached in China and their wool is smuggled to the Kashmir Valley, which is the only place in the world where it is worked with.

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