Darjeeling Tea, Mysore Silk, Nagpur Orange, Tirupathi Laddu, Feni, Banaras Brocades and Sarees are a few among the many registered geographical indications, in short, GIs in India. In simple words, GI is an indication or sign which helps identifying a product originating from a particular location, which gives that product a special quality or reputation. These products are protected under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 in India.

The Indian Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) issued a public notice on June 24, 2019, along with a draft guideline for comments from stakeholders (within 30 days) on the peppy tagline “Invaluable Treasure of Incredible India” and a common tri-color logo for GI certified products.

One of the most important issues which were identified by the Indian Department for the Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is the existence of multiple logos identifying GIs, leading to confusion among the consumers. To keep in check, the idea of a common “GI Logo and Tagline” was envisaged and through a public contest, the common GI logo and tagline for India were selected on 1st August 2018. In a glance, GI logo, resembles the general location symbol, indicating that GI holds certain specific quality attributable to its place of origin and it is designed in such a way that it contains the acronym for GI and the logo bears the tri-color of the Indian National Flag, which fixes a sense of pride in one’s mind. This logo will act as certifying mark, which can be used to identify all Indian registered GI products, irrespective of the categories. It is beneficial and convenient to both, the producers and consumers. It helps the former in recognizing authentic GI products and the latter in promotion, branding, and marketing.

Under the draft guidelines, the following are not allowed:

  1. The user of the logo and tagline cannot deviate from the terms and conditions enumerated in it;
  2. Foreign GI products cannot use the logo & tag line (whether registered in India or not);
  3. The logo & tag line cannot be used for an illegal purpose or against public interest or in any derogatory fashion;
  4. The logo should not be distorted or changed in relative proportion, color, etc.

Moreover, the draft guidelines also state that:

  1. The logo and tagline shall be used only for registered Indian GI products and no fee shall be levied for granting the same, the ownership rights on the both logo as well as the tagline vest with DPIIT in India and also it reserves rights with respect to withdrawal of permission for use without any notice and right to change the design and layout.
  2. DPIIT in India shall not be responsible for the authenticity of any product and shall not bear any financial obligation for usage and further, cannot be made liable for any claims, if any, for unauthorized use, however, holds the right to take necessary action against unauthorized use.

Procedure for grant of permission for use

The draft guidelines state that the request for use of the logo and tagline in India must be received for programmes on electronic media at least 30 in advance and would be approved based on the draft guidelines’ merit and the decision made by the Indian Joint Secretary. The DPIIT in India holds the right to seek additional details if needed and the draft guidelines also provide for the format for applying for permission to use the common logo and tag line.

Usage allowed without any permission

Under the draft guidelines, the usage by Indian Government establishments and offices, Indian embassies or missions abroad (for events, brochures, publicity material, and advertisement), registered proprietors and authorized users of Indian products registered under the Act are permitted to use the logo & the tag line without seeking prior approval. On the other hand, all Central Government Ministries, PSUs, Departments of State’s, private bodies need to seek prior permission of the DPIIT, Government of India for the usage of the GI logo and tagline and along with them the  retailers, wholesalers and publishers of articles, blogs through newspapers, magazines, internet, etc. should also seek prior permission for usage.

On the whole, though the draft guidelines published by the DPIIT, might not be a remedy in its fullest, to encourage the promotion and marketing of Indian products registered as GIs but considering the vital components of the draft guidelines, it could be concluded that, it holds all the potential to create a change in the Indian market for registered GI products and paves the way for mitigating confusion among consumers of registered GI products.