Geographical indications (GI) as a form of intellectual property
have a great potential unlocking value in a brand. They are signs
and indications necessarily linked to a particular territory and GI
products constitute a genuine interest for producers as they unlock
value by capitalizing on consumers' desire for diversity,
typical, quality products.
Darjeeling tea, when brewed has a distinctive naturally
occurring aroma, mouth feel and taste and the infused leaf has a
distinctive fragrance. Connoisseurs assert that it is the champagne
of teas since its flavor is unique and cannot be replicated. The
quality, reputation and characteristics of Darjeeling tea are
essentially attributable to its geographical origin. Due to these
special characteristics, the tea has acquired recognition in India
and abroad as Darjeeling tea since a long time and any member of
trade or public in India or abroad ordering Darjeeling tea or
seeing tea so advertised or offered for sale, will expect it to be
cultivated and grown in Darjeeling district having the aforesaid
special characteristics. Darjeeling tea is India's treasured
Geographical Indication and forms a very important part of
India's cultural and collective intellectual heritage.
In 2007, The Tea Board of India and the Darjeeling Tea
Association invoked a provision in the EU Commission Regulation
510/2006 to ask the European Commission to accord the Protected
Geographical Status (PGI) to Darjeeling Tea. Under the Commission
Regulation 1898/2006 laid for the implementation of Regulation
510/2006, registrations of GIs by producers in third countries can
be made directly to the Commission. The rules also allow
individuals in third countries to object to an application for the
protection of GI directly to the commission rather than through
their governments. European Union had granted the geographical
indication status to Darjeeling tea last year, however
authenticating its origin was to be substantiated by implementation
of this status, which involves a phasing-out period within which
products, which do not conform to the law and are not authentic
from Darjeeling, the hill district of Bengal, are driven out of the
market. Recently, the European Trade Council and the German Tea
Association, as reported, have agreed to confer the PGI status on
Darjeeling tea, the first commodity from India to get such status.
This implies that the tea produced only in Darjeeling can be sold
as Darjeeling tea in the European Union. The blenders in EU
countries now will not be allowed to mix any tea with Darjeeling
tea and sell it as Darjeeling tea; only those packets that contain
100% Darjeeling tea with the Darjeeling Logo and the PGI logo
labeled on them can be sold as Darjeeling tea. The reports also say
that it has also been decided that the European Trade Council and
the Darjeeling Tea Association along with the Tea Board will
jointly promote Darjeeling Tea in the European market.
The system created to provide protection throughout EU for the
geographical indications and designations of origin of certain
agricultural products and foodstuffs is "Protected
Geographical Indication" (PGI) system. It covers foodstuffs
produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using
recognized know-how. Under the system, the geographical link must
occur in at least one of the stages of production, processing or
preparation and such link between the characteristics of the
product and the geographical area must be proven.
Darjeeling tea is already registered as a GI in India. The PGI
status in European Union will prevent misuse of the name Darjeeling
Tea. In the past, the Tea Board has fought more than 15 cases
against infringement and misuse of the Darjeeling name including
from Sri Lanka, the US and France. It was successful in seeking
rejection of trademark application for "Darjeeling
Nouveau" by Republic of Tea (ROT), a US company. The Trademark
Trial & Appeal Board of the US ruled that ROT had not been able
to prove that consumers view Darjeeling tea as a generic type, as
opposed to tea from the Darjeeling region in India. Another
important victory for Tea Board was against Dusong, a french
company, adoption of the Darjeeling mark with a kettle device. The
Court of Appeal of Paris ruled that Dusong's mark impaired the
GI Darjeeling and is prejudicial to the Tea Board's interest.
Reports suggest that applications for registering Darjeeling Tea
have been made before the Japanese Property Right Organisation for
granting of the Production of Regional Origin (PRO) in Japan and
also before the Trade Administration Authority (TAA) of USA for
grant of Community Collection Mark in USA. The PRO and TAA are
supposed to be similar to the PGI tag.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
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