Source: TextilesCommittee, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Mumbai
Role of Geographical Indications for EconomicEmpowerment & Human Development: Evidences from a GI registered Product
Global competitiveness is a key determinant for trade andeconomic prosperity of a country in World Trade Organisation (WTO) era. TradeRelated Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) as a part of agreementsagreed upon under the framework of WTO are emerging as a key determinant forenhancing the rural economy, human development, increases international tradeand leads to global competitiveness. TRIPS agreement stipulates protection ofIntellectual Property through patents, designs, trademarks, copyrights, tradesecrets and Geographical Indications (GI), etc. The protection creates a systemfor innovator to benefit from his inventions/ innovations/creations.Geographical Indications (GI) is the newest addition to Intellectual PropertyRights (IPRs) and defined as Indications, which identify a good as originatingin the territory of a member country, or a region or locality in thatterritory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of a goodis essentially attributable to its geographical origin. In other words, somegeographical regions acquire a reputation for origin of a product with somespecific quality and uniqueness. It is the quality or reputation thatdistinguishes the product from others all over the world. The GI is a uniqueform of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) provided to the community ofproducers who have acquired traditional knowledge from generations and produceproducts with unique characteristics. The GIs are further linked to their placeof origin. The main objectives of GI is (i) to provide legal protection to theproduct by safeguarding unauthorized usage of the product by othercountries/manufacturers; (ii) promotion of economic prosperity of the producerof the goods/idea; (iii) assigning a form of collective monopoly right to theproducer either within or outside the relevant geographical area; and (iv)empowering the registered proprietor to initiate legal action againstunauthorized users.
Protection to traditional knowledge based industries, of late,has drawn considerable international attention. Traditional knowledge could beoften described as different varieties of product available in the society asan outcome of tradition based intellectual activity. They are normally based onthe knowledge systems, which are transmitted from generations and constantlyevolving over time. Protection to these traditional knowledge have never beenan issue of debate in the TRIPS council rather liberal granting of patents tothe new invention in the arena of traditional knowledge based generic resourcesto the developed countries particularly the EU and USA in a way pushed thedeveloping countries to demand protection to their traditional knowledge basedindustries1. In this context, the possibilities of protectingthe traditional knowledge based systems emerged. The new concept of GI asintroduced in the TRIPS agreement recognizes quality reputation or othercharacteristics of the goods as conditions of protection. Since the quality,reputation and other characteristics are the result of continuous innovation inthe traditional methods of production or use of specific formulae fromgenerations, it was strongly pitched for protection through GI2.These traditional knowledge systems have also been instrumental in transformingthe social and human development besides preserving the cultural heritage ofthe countries. It has also been suggested that since the GIs has alwaysprovided a sustained development of the socio economic conditions of theproducers 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 andrestate role of the GI in economic empowerment and human development from someof the recent experiences of GI registered product.
Dr. PNayak is anexpert in Market Research and International Trade. He has been instrumental increating the trade related capacity building in textile sector in India. An eminent scholar and speaker he has served in various ministries of Government ofIndia and is currently working as the Director in the Textiles Committee,Mumbai in the Ministry of Textiles; a statutory organization of Government ofIndia.