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This article is written by Riya Jain from the Institute of Law, Nirma University. The article deals exhaustively with the GI tag and its implications.


The geographical Indication (GI) is a sign of a product having a specific geographical origin and thereby acquired reputation or possess qualities as the outcome of its valuable origin. The qualities and characteristics of such products provide a significant insight of speciality of the place of origin and therefore there is a clear link between the product and geographical origin. Such indications are distinctive signs that can be used to differentiate from other competing products.

History of GI tag

Usually, GI is applicable to agricultural products combined with the use of traditional extraction, processing, marketing including product branding. However, the GI tag faces challenges of meeting quality standards and control, production method, distribution, environmental standards and distribution. The GI consists of either the name of the place of origin like Darjeeling tea or an unnamed place of origin like Chanderi saree of MP.

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The WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement) in 1994 contained a section on GI.

Article 22.1 of the TRIPS Agreement defines geographical indications as indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member [of the World Trade Organization], or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin. 

Article 1(2) of Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property of 1883 (Paris Convention) refers to “indications of source” and “appellations of origin” are the object of industrial property. Moreover, sub-clause 3 of Article 1 specifies the definition of industrial property as not only restricted to industry and commerce but also agricultural & extractive industries and manufactured and natural products such as wines, grain, fruits, cattle, beer, flower, tobacco leaf, cattle, minerals and flour.

India, being a member of WTO, enacted the GI of goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (referred to as “GI Act”) which came into force on 15 September 2003. It ensured that none other than the authorized users could produce, distribute and sell such geographical origin products. The definition of GI is given under Section 2(1)(e) which provides what type of goods can be identified i.e. agricultural goods, natural goods or manufactured goods originated or manufactured in the territory of a country or region or locality in that territory. The Darjeeling tea became the first good to be registered as GI tag in 2004-2005. 370 goods had been registered as GI since August 2020.

Importance of GI tags

The importance of GI entails the rights of GI holders to use indication for the purpose of meeting the quality standards and its originality of the place. The right of holders is acquired when the applicant obtains a right over a sign that constitutes GI subject to condition and limitation as specified in the registration.  The right to prevent third parties who do not conform to the prescribed quality standard or produce products with the same technique as mandated for meeting the standard of GI. For example, the producer of Kashmir Pashmina can restrict other producers within Kashmir or outside the geographical boundary of Kashmir who did not follow the code of practice and standard mandated under the GI Act. 

It also provides the right to institute suit against infringement and recovery of damage caused due to infringement of the right on the condition that the holder must acquire registration of GI under Section 21 of the GI Act. The registration cannot be transferred, mortgaged, licensed or assigned except in case of death of an authorized holder who made the inheritance of mark as provided under Section 24 of the GI Act. 

Infringement, in this Act, is defined as products produced in a place other than the place of origin or unfair practices or competition. The GI tag can be registered for the period of 10 years which can be renewed from time to time as provided under Section 18 of the GI Act. If the holder of GI falsely applied or falsified any indication, tamper the originality of the product, make or have the possession of dye, blocks, machine to use it in falsifying GI can be punished for the term not less than six months which may extend to three years and fine shall not be less than 50,000 which may extend to two lakh rupees under Section 39 of the GI Act.

Procedure to apply for registration of GI Tag

The GI tag is registered under the GI Act by abiding by the following grounds provided under Sections 11,13,16 of the GI Act:

  1. The applicant can make the application before the Registrar of GI by any person or association of person or producer or organization authorized by or under the law which ultimately represents the interest of such producers of such goods.
  2. The application must entail the criteria of quality, nature, reputation, or any other essential factor like geographical environment, manufacturing process, natural and human factors, map of the territory of production, the appearance of geographical indication (figurative or words), list of producers, along with prescribed fees.
  3. The preliminary scrutiny for any deficiencies would be conducted and if found then in such case applicants must reply to such deficiencies within one month from the date of the communication.
  4. The registrar may accept or refuse the application for registration of GI. If the registrar refused the application then it must be supplied with reasons for non-appearance. The applicant has the option to file a reply within 2 months. Upon such re-refusal, the applicant has the right to file an appeal within one month from the date of refusal.
  5. The registrar on acceptance of application may advertise such application on GI Journal.
  6. On being unopposed to such an application, the registrar will grant the certificate of registration to the applicant and authorized users. 
  7. If the registration process is not completed within 12 months from the date of application at the default of the applicant, then the registrar may after giving notice to the applicant abandon the application unless it is completed within the time specified.   

Some important factors regarding GI tags

The significant factors underlying GI prove to be a determinative condition for passing the criteria required for approval of certificate to the applicant or authorized users. The factors as provided under Section 9 of the GI Act mentions the following conditions required to be set aside for grant of GI:

  1. The use of GI must not be likely to deceive or create confusion or contrary to the law in force.
  2. It must refrain from obscene or scandalous matters.
  3. It shall not hurt the religious sentiment of any section or class of people.
  4. It should not be entitled to protection in the court.
  5. It must entail a generic name or indication and therefore, entitled to be protected in the country of origin or fallen into disuse. Provided that, determining factor for identifying generic names must be ascertained from all factors including the situation of the place or region in which names originated and area of consumption of the goods.
  6. It must not falsely represent that such goods originated in another country, region, or locality although the goods belong to the country of origin.
  7. The homonymous geographical indication may be registered if the registrar is satisfied that practical conditions in which such homonymous indications can be differentiated from other homonymous indications and also need for equitable treatment of producers. 

Authority authorised to provides GI tags

The Controller-General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks appointed under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999, shall be the Registrar of Geographical Indications or Central Government may appoint such officer with the same designation to discharge the functions of Registrar.  Moreover, the register for recording the registered GI with the names, addresses and descriptions of the proprietors, the names, addresses and descriptions of authorized users and such other matters relating to registered geographical indications (under Section 6 of the Act). 

Such a register will be divided into two parts, Part A providing registration of GI and Part B providing registration of authorized users. The registrar may classify the goods in part or all of the goods, the GI may be registered in respect to a definite country, region or locality as the case may be. The registrar may publish an alphabetical index of the classification of goods.

The technology-driven advancement now calls for e-marketing and online payment just by sitting at your home with the want of mobile to order products anytime at any place within a week. Taking the assistance of an online portal, one can anything including the GI Tagged product at your doorstep. The customer can also purchase the GI Tagged product on the website which provides ample products at a reasonable price to its customers in the category of Indian painting, handicraft, jewellery, handloom and textiles, wall hanging, home and living, etc.   

List of products that got GI tags in 2020

The list of products that got GI Tags in 2020 is given below:



      Goods Type

    Tamil Nadu

Kovi      lpatti Kadalai Mittai

    Food Item

    Tamil Nadu

    Thanjavur Pith Works


    Tamil Nadu

    Arumbavur Wood



    Uttar Pradesh

    Gorakhpur Terracotta






    Telia Rumal



    Sohrai – Khovar Painting


  Jammu & Kashmir

    Saffron (Mongra, Lachha, Guchhi)


Recently, Gucchi or Morel, a mushroom priced at Rs.20,000 per kg produced in the Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir found to be one of the costliest mushrooms in the world. The Jammu-based NGO Border World Foundation has filed an application for registration of this mushroom for this product tagged as GI would create huge demand for its uniqueness and rare heirloom crop. It will also create an income-earning factor and independence of local tribal populations who are indulged in the production and cultivation of mushrooms and thereby fetch higher prices.    


The GI tag proves to be a significant intangible property with an enduring impact on the people regarding product quality in connection with the place of origin within the country, region or locality. It confers benefits like legal protection to the product, prevent unauthorized use of the product, provide quality and standardized product and develop economic prosperity of products in national and international markets. 

Further, GI tag must be provided after careful scrutiny of historical and empirical inquiry and in case of conflict with respect to the place of origin, the concerned authority can either give ownership to both states or none must be given the ownership for GI Tag. The purpose of providing the approval of GI must ensure that resources are fully utilized for rendering the services and product to its best use in the production, selling and distribution of GI products. Such GI Tag makes the provision for greater competition, productivity and national reputation in the international market.

However, every use of things comes with its misuse in the sense that some unauthorised traders, dealers or manufacturers cause the creation of duplicate and illegal selling, distribution of products and thereby mislead and misrepresent the quality and goodwill of the authorised product in the market. This involves unfair trade practices which in turn violates the essence of various acts like the Consumer Protection Act, Trademark Act, Indian Companies Act, Competition Act, etc. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to implement and regulate this act expeditiously and strictly for the preservation of originalities. Moreover, the geographical tagged indication is valuable and worthwhile for the giver and receiver as constructed under the principle of caveat venditor and caveat emptor respectively.    


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