Source: Textiles Committee, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Mumbai

Role of Geographical Indications for Economic Empowerment & Human Development: Evidences from a GI registered Product

Global competitiveness is a key determinant for trade and economic prosperity of a country in World Trade Organisation (WTO) era. Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) as a part of agreements agreed upon under the framework of WTO are emerging as a key determinant for enhancing the rural economy, human development, increases international trade and leads to global competitiveness. TRIPS agreement stipulates protection of Intellectual Property through patents, designs, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and Geographical Indications (GI), etc. The protection creates a system for innovator to benefit from his inventions/ innovations/creations. Geographical Indications (GI) is the newest addition to Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and defined as Indications, which identify a good as originating in the territory of a member country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of a good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin. In other words, some geographical regions acquire a reputation for origin of a product with some specific quality and uniqueness. It is the quality or reputation that distinguishes the product from others all over the world. The GI is a unique form of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) provided to the community of producers who have acquired traditional knowledge from generations and produce products with unique characteristics. The GIs are further linked to their place of origin. The main objectives of GI is (i) to provide legal protection to the product by safeguarding unauthorized usage of the product by other countries/manufacturers; (ii) promotion of economic prosperity of the producer of the goods/idea; (iii) assigning a form of collective monopoly right to the producer either within or outside the relevant geographical area; and (iv) empowering the registered proprietor to initiate legal action against unauthorized users.

Protection to traditional knowledge based industries, of late, has drawn considerable international attention. Traditional knowledge could be often described as different varieties of product available in the society as an outcome of tradition based intellectual activity. They are normally based on the knowledge systems, which are transmitted from generations and constantly evolving over time. Protection to these traditional knowledge have never been an issue of debate in the TRIPS council rather liberal granting of patents to the new invention in the arena of traditional knowledge based generic resources to the developed countries particularly the EU and USA in a way pushed the developing countries to demand protection to their traditional knowledge based industries1. In this context, the possibilities of protecting the traditional knowledge based systems emerged. The new concept of GI as introduced in the TRIPS agreement recognizes quality reputation or other characteristics of the goods as conditions of protection. Since the quality, reputation and other characteristics are the result of continuous innovation in the traditional methods of production or use of specific formulae from generations, it was strongly pitched for protection through GI2. These traditional knowledge systems have also been instrumental in transforming the social and human development besides preserving the cultural heritage of the countries. It has also been suggested that since the GIs has always provided a sustained development of the socio economic conditions of the producers of the GIs; as has been witnessed in case of wines and spirits of Europe; the prospects of protecting the traditional knowledge holders in India holds a lots of hope.

In view of the above, we in this paper try to examine and restate role of the GI in economic empowerment and human development from some of the recent experiences of GI registered product.


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Dr. P Nayak is an expert in Market Research and International Trade. He has been instrumental in creating the trade related capacity building in textile sector in India. An eminent scholar and speaker he has served in various ministries of Government of India and is currently working as the Director in the Textiles Committee, Mumbai in the Ministry of Textiles; a statutory organization of Government of India.