India seeks extension of GI to reduce extra cost burden

New Delhi, March 22 | Updated: Mar 23 2006, 06:33am hrs
India has argued that extension of enhanced protection of geographical indications (GIs) to more products under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will reduce the burden for developing countries producers. The producers sometimes face costly processes seeking GI protection for their products in export markets under the available level of general protection (under Article 22).

It, however, feels that any agreement on its extension should address the concerns on additional cost burden raised by some developing countries.

Informal discussions on whether advanced protection of GIs (a name or sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess exclusive qualities) should be extended to products other than wines and spirits is presently on at the WTO under the chairmanship of deputy director general Rufus Yerxa.

Advanced protection (under Article 23) is only granted to wines and spirits under the Trips Agreement. For example, the protection granted to Champagne prevents makers of sparkling wine in other regions from using the name even with affixes like type and kind.

India, Sri Lanka and the EU are keen on its extension. While India wants to protect its Basmati rice, Alphanso mangoes and Darjeeling tea, the EU wants protection for a long list of products like Feta cheese and Tuscany oil and Sri Lanka wants protection for Ceylon tea.

In the discussions, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Canada argued that the obligation to protect intellectual property has raised costs and been a burden for developing countries. The countries proposed that all flexibilities that currently exist in the TRIPS Agreement must be preserved.