Geographical Indications are those marks used in the course of trade by a group of sellers/producers to indicate the origin of the good sold. They are usually awarded to specific types of goods such as agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts and industrial products. It is not awarded to services. It is registered under the name of any association of persons/produces or any such authority or organization that represents the interests of the producers.
The requirements for registering a GI is enshrined in Section 11 of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. According to this provision, a registration application must be accompanied by a statement that contains details as to how the GI serves to designate the goods as originating from the chosen territory. It has to show the same with respect to quality, reputation or any other characteristics which are caused solely due to geographical environments or its inherent human tradition and practices applied in the process of preparation, processing or production of the product.
The registration forms contain in-detail descriptions of why the particular product can only be grown with its unique characteristics in that chosen location. For example, the Darjeeling Tea GI registration application states that the “agro-climatic” conditions in Darjeeling are responsible for the unique taste and quality of Darjeeling Tea. The scientific name for the good, along with the changes in its biology due to the geographical location is highlighted.
In contrast, the reasons would largely differ when the good in consideration is created by humans and is not a product of nature. For example, Chanderi Silk is a registered GI, in its application, the historical evidence of making Chanderi Silk is present. The process and technique of making the product is described in detail from the procurement of raw silk to colouring and printing on the cloth.
The applications must contain proof of origin. This origin may be proved through evidences submitted in the form of gazette publications, historical evidences, news articles, advertisements which clearly bring out the development of the GI.
The application forms are to also include a map, with a marked portion of land, which forms the territory represented through the GI. Each element is carefully examined and evaluated to conclude whether or not a particular product requires a geographical indication mark. The applicants in the same statement must elaborate and lay down the standard benchmark for the producers using the GI. Fixing such a standard is considered necessary for quality control, inspection and enforcement of the GI.
In short an application must contain product specification, description of the good and its uniqueness, method of production, proof of origin, inspection body to maintain quality of production and details about the current market for the product including import/export data, turnovers and any other activities undertaken by the applicant association of producers.