Geographical Indication indicates in relation to particular goods that they originate from a country, region or locality and have some special characteristics, qualities or reputation, which is attributable to its place of origin. It means that Geographical Indication depicts the quality, special character related to particular goods, which cannot be find in any other place. The goods become recognised among the customers due to their special quality and place of origin. The special quality of the goods may be due to natural environment, soils, raw materials, temperature or moisture found at that place, where it originates. The goods may be natural or manufactured, in case of manufactured goods, the process involved, special quality of raw materials used, which have been in the same area and many other qualities of Specific Region makes goods special. The connection between the goods and place of its origin become so famous that when we purchase or use those goods, we remember the place of its origin. Such as when we use “Champagne”, we remember “Champagne”, district of France.

We can define it further as “A Geographical Indication, is a name or sign used on products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin.

Wikipedia Defines: A geographical indication (GI) is a name or sign used on products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g., a town, region, or country). The use of a geographical indication, as an indication of the product’s source, acts as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a good reputation due to its geographical origin.

World Intellectual Property Rights Organization’s (WIPO’s) defines: “A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.”

The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 defines as –“ Geographical Indications”, in relation to goods,” as indication  which identifies such goods as agricultural goods, natural goods or manufactured goods as originating , or manufactured in the territory of country, or a region or locality in that territory where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin and in case where such goods are manufactured goods, one of the activities of either the production or of processing or preparation of the goods concerned takes place in such territory, region  or locality, as the case may be.”


1. Any name which is not the name of the country, region or locality of that country shall also be considered as geographical indication if it relates to specific geographical area and is used upon or in relation to a particular goods originating from that country, region or locality, as the case may be.

2. Goods has been defined as:” any agricultural, natural or manufactured goods or any goods of handicraft or of industry and includes food stuffs.”

3. Indication has been defined as: “any name geographical or figurative representation or any combination of them conveying or suggesting the geographical origin of goods on which it applies.”


‘Pilsen and Budweis’ beers, ‘Champagne’, ’Porto’, ’Sherry’, ’Chianti’, ‘Cognac’, ‘Scotch Whisky’,’ Assam Tea’,’Pashmina Shawl,’ New Zealand Lamb’, Indian Carpet, Himalayan Goat etc. These goods are well known and are recognised by their geographical indications or the place of their origin.


The indications have features that respond to the needs of indigenous and local communities and farmers.

Geographical Indications are;

i) Based on collective traditions and a collective design making process;

ii) Reward traditions while allowing for continued evolution;

iii) Emphasize the relationship between the human efforts, culture, land resources and environment; and

iv) Not freely transferable from one owner to another.

We may draw a conclusion from above that “Geographical Indications” reflects the traditions, culture, human efforts, resources and environment of a particular region.

FUNCTIONS OF GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS; It is a valuable property for a particular region. It is very important for any type of producers of goods of a particular region. Geographical Indications basically perform three functions.

1. Firstly -they identify the goods as originating in a particular territory, or a region or locality in that territory;

2. Secondly- they suggest the consumers that the goods come from an area where given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the goods is essentially attributable to their geographical origin; and

3. Thirdly -they promote goods of particular area, territory or region


Since Geographical Indications are as valuable as a Trade Mark. But there are some differences as follows;

A Trade Mark is owned by an enterprise and used to identify products and services in the market, in particular distinguish them from competing products and services. After registration a Trade Mark becomes personal property of a particular enterprise. A Trade Mark can be assigned to other enterprises also.

A geographical indication never belongs to a particular enterprise. It belongs to all people and enterprises residing in that geographical area and to all goods produced and manufactured in that specific region. It can be used by several enterprises related to same type of goods produced or manufactured in the same area or region or locality.  So geographical indications are not personal property of a particular enterprise.  A geographical indication cannot be assigned.


There was no law to protect Geographical Indications before 1999 and to safeguard the interest of our local farmers. But our courts were keen to protect interest of locals. Some of decided cases are;

Mohan Meakin Vs. Scotch Whisky [AIR 1980 Del 125]; in this Delhi High Court affirmed the order of Registrar of Trademarks by which he refused to register the applicants’ mark proposed to be used on Whisky produced in India consisted the words “Highland Chief” and the device of the head shoulders of a gentleman dressed in Scottish Highland costume wearing, inter alia, feather bonnet and plaid edge with tartan, a well know symbol of Scottish Origin.

Scotch Whisky Association Vs. Pravara Sahakar Karkhana [ AIR 1992 Bom 294]; the Scotch Whisky Association is restraining the defendants from selling their whisky under description “Blended with Scotch”, along with device of Scottish Drummer wearing a kilt or tartan and the word” Drum Beater”.


On September 2, 1997, United States Patent and Trade Mark Office granted Patent No. 5663484 to RiceTec Inc., a US multinational company based in Alvin, Texas for new “Lines and grains”, in the name of “Basmati”, the company claimed that its produce is better than “Basmati” rice produced in Indian as well as other parts of the world. The company has also claimed that new varieties can be grown in specified geographical areas in the North America. Further the company began to use the trademark “Texmati”,” Kasmati” and “Jasmati” for several years to sell its products of Basmati Rice.

The controversy aroused on the basis of two points;

i) The grant of patent to RiceTec Inc. was invalid;

ii) The use of name “Basmati” for products of RiceTec Inc., since “Basmati”, has been originated from India and India was as Geographical Indication for name “Basmati”.

Since “Basmati” is long grained aromatic rice variety is a traditional produce vastly grown in sub-Himalayan areas. It is being grown in India and Pakistan from several years. The farmers of India and Pakistan have developed various varieties of “Basmati” rice by using modern and traditional cultivating methods.

After a hard work of two year and half years, India put together the data and challenge the patents of RiceTec Inc., in April,2000. The U.S. Patent and Trade Marks Office issued patents to the only three strains of hybrid Basmati grains out of 20 claims. The three strains to which protection was afforded, were patently and noticeably different.

As for as use of Geographical Indication “Basmati”, by RiceTec Inc., was concerned, the Patent Office mandarins, stated that RiceTec Inc., could use the “Basmati”, appellation because it was not a trademark name or a geographical indicator, unlike “Champagne”, or “Port”, which were specific to a region. It was further stated that “Basmati”, was not geographical indicator even in India. It was grown all over India, Pakistan and even in Thailand. It was also stated that the “Basmati”, saga had a turbulent history ever since the perceived transgression in the mid -1990s was first reported when “Taxmati”, and “Jasmati” hits the shelves of grocery stores.

The government of India has learnt a lesson from above “Basmati” controversy and has enacted “THE GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS OF GOODS (REGISTRATION AND PROTECTION) ACT, 1999”.

The Geographical Indications Registry has been established in Chennai to administer the Geographical Indications Act, 1999 under the Controller General of Patents, Design & Trade Marks.

CONCLUSION:  it is duty of a government to safeguard the interest of its people. Geographical Indications are valuable property for every person residing in that particular area, region or territory. The goods and services originating from that areas are of special quality, nature and characteristic. The geographical conditions, environment, raw materials found, the process involved ,the method involved to produce such goods are specifically found in the same area. Such as in relation to Assam Tea, there are a lot of verities of Assam Tea and all are famous because of their test due to specific environmental conditions, soils etc. found in the state of Assam. Geographical Indications provides an edged to those goods ,which are produced in same area than others. It is important to safeguard our products and interest of farmers producing the same.

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A Qualified Company Secretary, LLB from Purvanchal University UP and a Science Graducate , Alumni of Banaras Hindu University (Bsc.), having more than 19 years of experience in the field of Secretarial Practice, Project Finance, Direct Taxes ,GST, Accounts & Finance and recently working as a M View Full Profile

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June 2021