While the famous ‘diaper war’ is a classical example of patent war between two companies, the Super Basmati GI issue can turn up into a classic example of intellectual property nuke war between two countries. Time has gone when ‘terrorism’ used to be the subject matter of joint reports regarding India and Pakistan in almost every part of print and electronic media. It seems that India needs to again fight a case for getting exclusive rights over different varieties of Basmati rice, but this time, the opponent is not Texmathi. Few days back, Hindustan Times in an article titled "Patent Issue: Pak for Legal Action Against Each Other" reported that Pakistan plans to take legal action against India over a dispute on GI registration of Super Basmati rice by India. The whole issue arose when India managed to register Super Basmati on the basis of Geographical Indication. Of much political and bureaucratic interest, earlier, India and Pakistan were supposed to work out a joint strategy and the same was also proposed by India in 2006 during Commerce Secretary level talks. Mr. Pankaj Tripathi, who is in-charge of economic and commerce in Indian High Commission at Islamabad, told Hindustan Times that Commerce Minister Kamal Nath too has taken it up with his Pakistan counterpart Mr. Humayun Akhtar but nothing came off. This non-response from other side forced India to go ahead to claim for intellectual property rights on Super Basmati. The issue of registering Super Basmati came up when European Union sought the registration of Super Basmati rice as geographical indication for its convenience.
Before few years, Pakistan was exporting Super Basmati to the EU and enjoying a good market position. India was then exporting only the Pusa variety and not the Super variety, though grown in some parts. Later on, India also planned to export Super Basmati. Moving a step ahead, Ministry of Commerce forwarded an application to Ministry of Agriculture to recognize Super Basmati rice under the Seeds Act, which was refused. The six varieties recognized in Seeds Act are Basmati 370, Basmati 386, Pusa Basmati, Tarorari Basmati, Basmati 217 and Ranbir Basmati. Stung by this, Ministry of Commerce, India issued a notification dated May 24, 2007 amending Basmati Rice (Quality Control and Inspection) Rules 2003 in order recognize, certify and regulate super basmati rice export from the country. Super Basmati has always had an edge over Indian Pusa Basmati-1 in international markets. While India's Basmati rice exports to Europe rose to 2.20 lakh tonnes in September 2005-August 2006 from 1.82 lakh tonnes in September 2002-August 2003, Pakistan's exports plummeted to just 53,000 tonnes from 95,000 tonnes during the same period, Pakistan is expecting a further loss of 40% of its international Super Basmati rice market due to export of by India.
While Pakistan is vehemently arguing that there is no way out by which India can claim GI on Super Basmati as since it is originally grown and nurtured in Pakistan, the Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana has claimed that it engineered the ‘Super’ rice after sourcing the seeds from Pakistan and working on it for about three years. Through scientific section and screening, the seed was purified to suit Indian soil conditions and released as ‘Shabnam’ rice.
The final results of this dispute are far from oversight; rice exporters of both the countries will meet in New Delhi on July 18 to discuss the prospects of joint registration and a joint export strategy. Lets see who wins this battle of legitimacy of origin but surely it is far better to fight on intellectual property rights rather than terrorism!
This article enunciates the recent, much awaited, and landmark judgment delivered on September 16, 2016 by Hon'ble Delhi High Court throwing light on the important provisions of the Copyright Act, 1962.
The Patents Act 1970, along with the Patents Rules 1972, came into force on 20th April 1972, replacing the Indian Patents and Designs Act 1911. The Patents Act was largely based on the recommendations of the Ayyangar Committee Report headed by Justice N. Rajagopala Ayyangar. One of the recommendations was the allowance of only process patents with regard to inventions relating to drugs, medicines, food and chemicals.
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