Kerala’s New Geographical Indication (GI Tag)
Geographical Indication (GI) is an Intellectual Property Right like any other IPR which is described in Article 22 of TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property) Agreement as “indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin”. It is given to the products which are unique and limited to certain geographical indications only. They can be given to any kinds of products and does not differentiate among manufactured or agricultural or food stuff or even handicrafts. Based on international agreements India has formulated new act/regulations, and also under section 6 of the Act made it mandatory to set up a GI register to register unique GI’s in India.
“Kerala is considered to be a treasure trove of unique GIs, which we have to register now,” said professor CR Elsy (plant breeding & genetics), who is Wayanad also the convener of Kerala Agricultural University’s (KAU) IPR cell. All in all, there are 320 registered GI’s in India out of which Kerala state owns more than 25 registered GI’s and there is no hype in the statement made by professor CR Elsy. Kerala’s GI tags are mostly in agricultural products. Recently Kerala has got another GI tag to its another agricultural product called “Nilambur Teak”. It is the first forest product that has got the GI tag.
It was the initiative taken by Nilambur Teak Heritage Society along with by Kerala Agricultural University (K.A.U.) along with, the Kerala Forest Research Institute (K.F.R.I.) and the Department of Forests that helped Nilambur timber attain GI status.
Abdullakutty of Nilambur Teak Heritage Society said, “We are very glad to hear this news, GI tag will help us to conserve Nilambur teak. There are about 10,000 people including workers and traders who are dependent on teak for their livelihood, and the GI tag will fetch them good revenues, as it will block sale of fake products.”
Nilambur Teak is a famous quality wood to make furniture. It is unique and famous for the features of long size, durability and distinctive colour. During the British rule they too were drawn towards this teak for its distinctive features and even decided to transport it to London. The railway line Nilambur to Shornur was laid down to make this transport easier.
GI for Nilambur Teak was sought mainly to decrease the increasing rate of low quality wood being sold in the name of Nilambur Teak which had affected the livelihood of people dependent on Nilambur Teak production. This initiative was taken up by the IPR Cell and the College of Forestry of Kerala Agricultural University to make sure that Nilambur Teak is sufficiently protected by means of registration which under section 21 confers a set of rights upon the registered proprietor.
The list of GIs’ can be accessed here.