India gov’t publishes Draft GI of Goods (Registration and Protection) (Amendment) Rules, 2023
10 November 2023
India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry published the draft rules to amend the Geographical Indications (GIs) of Goods (Registration and Protection) Rules, 2002 in the Gazette and on its website on October 17, 2023, and October 27, 2023, respectively.
“The ministry intends to amend the table in the first schedule of the existing Rules, 2002, which lays down the fees structure as per Rule 10(1). Primarily, there has been a reduction in the fee prescribed for the submission of several forms in the rules. These mainly pertain to those relating to filing of a GI application, registration as authorized users and for grant of additional protection of goods,” shared Ashish Kanta Singh, partner at K&S Partners in Delhi.
For him, the Draft Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) (Amendment) Rules, 2023 is a welcomed move, as they will likely encourage more entities to apply for GI protection. However, bigger issues concerning GI protection in India need to be addressed through amendments in the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, which should also align with the proposed amendments in the Rules, 2002.
“Firstly, the GI Act, 1999 must ensure that the producers are part of an informed consultation process prior to filing an application so that they are on the same page as the body filing the GI application,” said Singh. This will help producers understand the benefits of GI registration and thus enhance their willingness to cooperate in the GI’s post-registration protection mechanism.
“Secondly, provisions to ensure quality control of the goods under a registered GI must be included in the GI Act, 1999 by way of a multi-layer inspection system and sanction mechanism upon failure to control the quality,” he continued. “Thirdly, provisions for assignment or transfer of a GI from the registered entity to another entity must be included to adjust for situations where the registered proprietor is unable to continue administering the registered GI.”
As a fourth amendment, Singh recommended omitting provisions for the registration of authorized users, which have become a financial and procedural burden for both the authorized users and the GI Registry, particularly affecting GIs with a high number of users, such as basmati rice.
“Being a public register of defined characteristics of registered GIs, the GI Register can serve as a record to verify if a given product is legitimately entitled to be protected as a GI. All those who conform to the specifications listed in the register must be naturally entitled to use the registered GI without resorting to formal registration of themselves as authorized users,” explained Singh.
Furthermore, he said the owner of the registered GI may be allowed to manage the list of authorized users instead of relying solely on the GI Registry. This would also empower them with legal remedies against unauthorized users, extending the criminal protections currently limited to authorized users.
According to him, these suggested amendments to the GI Act, 1999 will close the gaps in India’s GI protection ecosystem and offer comprehensive protection not only to registered GIs but also to all stakeholders involved.
- Espie Angelica A. de Leon