Intellectual Property Current Affairs

CIPAM-DIPP launches social media campaign to promote Geographical Indications

The Cell for IPR Promotions & Management (CIPAM) under Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has launched social media campaign to promote Indian Geographical Indications (GIs).

It has been launched under CIPAM’s ongoing campaign #LetsTalkIP to make more people aware about importance of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). The promotion of GIs is in line with Government’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ campaign.

Geographical Indication

Geographical Indication (GI) is sign or insignia used on products that have specific geographical origin and possess qualities or reputation that are due to that origin. Such name, sign or insignia conveys assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality.

The status to products marks its authenticity and ensures that only registered authorised users are allowed to use popular product name. Darjeeling Tea, Blue Pottery of Jaipur, Mahabaleshwar Strawberry, Banarasi Sarees and Tirupati Laddus are some of examples for products having GIs.

 

Importance of GIs to India

GIs products are of utmost importance as they are integral part of India’s rich culture and collective intellectual heritage. GI tag has accorded protection to number of hand-made and manufactured products, especially in informal sector. Certain GI products benefits rural economy in remote areas, by supplementing incomes of artisans, farmers, weavers and craftsmens who possess unique skills and knowledge of traditional practices and methods, passed down from generation to generation, which need to be protected and promoted.

GI Governance

GIs are covered as element of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under Paris Convention for Protection of Industrial Property (IPRs). At international level, GI is governed by WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In India, GI registration is governed by Geographical Indications of goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 which came into force in September 2003. It is granted by Chennai based Geographical Indications Registry (GIR). Darjeeling tea was first product to accorded with GI tag in India.

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US places India once again on IPR ‘priority watch’ list

The US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office has once again placed India on the ‘priority watch’ list in this year’s Special 301 report despite the country rolling out National IPR Policy last year. India has been placed in ‘priority watch’ list owing to USTR’s view that India has not made adequate changes in its intellectual property (IP) laws and regulations. India has been placed on the ‘Priority Watch List’ for decades now and is likely to remain in the ‘Priority Watch List’ category for having inadequate IPR laws and patent protection.

Background

Out-of-cycle review (OCR) of the India’s IPR regime by the USTR was started under the Obama administration in which both American, as well as Indian firms and other stakeholders, submitted their reviews on India’s IPR laws.

In May last year, India rolled out a National IPR Policy to address the concerns of the US trade bodies. The policy was drafted confirming to the World Trade Organisation’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Similar to USTR’s Special 301 Report, India is being ranked poorly in the IPR index being done by the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC).

USTR

United States Trade Representative (USTR) is an agency that is part of the executive office of the President of the US. USTR creates an annual Special 301 list since 1989. USTR places those countries that have either national laws or regulations that detrimentally affect U.S. trade or the rights of IP holders on this list. USTR places these countries in three categories. The most egregious violators are featured as Priority Foreign Countries (PFC), serious offenders are featured on the Priority Watch List (PWL), and less serious offenders in the Watch List (WL). The Special 301 list has continuously placed India most often as a PWL country.

Analysis

Under World Trade Organisation jurisprudence, the legality of the unilateral actions by the US over other sovereign countries remains questionable. To cater to its needs, the US tries to bring about a change in a country’s domestic IP law by adopting mechanisms like the Special 301 list. It is an extraterritorial application of the domestic law of a country and is not reasonable under the overall WTO regime.

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