A geographical indication is a sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that place of origin.
Most commonly, a GI comprises the name of the place of origin of the goods.
Agricultural products typically have qualities that derive from their place of production and are influenced by specific local factors such as climate and soil.
The use of a GI may act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin.
Geographical indications have long been associated with Europe as an entity, where there is a tradition of associating certain food products with particular regions.
India, geographical indications may be used for a wide variety of agricultural products like Darjeeling tea, Kancheepuram silks, chanderi silk sarees, alphonso mangoes, basmati rice, Malabar pepper, kohlapuri sandals, bikaneri namkin, apples from Himachal and Kashmir, petha from Agra,
The genesis of geographical indications was in 1994 when an agreement for Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights came into force directing all member counties of World Trade Organisation to enact laws for protection of GI in their respective countries latest by 1 Jan 2006.
Again In 2004, after several rounds of bilateral and multilateral free trade agreement negotiations, the World Trade Organisation made it important for nations to be familiar with the concept of geographical indications.
As a WTO member country and signatory to TRIPS, India passed the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and protection) Act 1999.
The Act provides for the registration and better protection of GIs relating to goods.
While the Act does not make provision for individual ownership, any association of persons or producers or any organization or authority representing the interest of the producers of the concerned goods can apply for registration in accordance with the provisions of Section 11 of the Act.