Geographical Indications are
recognized intellectual property tool for protecting the link
or relationship between product quality and the geographic
region of its origin. This connection between the product and
the geographic origin is the 'potential' that allows
for extracting value from reputable geographic indications, for
example the silk apparels from Mysore commands a value in the
market because of its potential being of unique texture and
With a range of issues
identifiable with geographical indications, the debate
concerning GIs has shifted gear with the issue of GI-extension.
The appellations of origin under Lisbon Agreement establishes
that majority of the indication–product link reflect
strong historical and symbolic links between the places and the
products. This feature of the GI makes it amenable aimed at
protecting the rights and interests of indigenous
GIs are considered as somewhat
more consistent form of an intellectual property instrument
compared to other IPRs and therefore complementary to the
culture and practices of indigenous communities. In particular,
its link to a region makes it a likely candidate for protecting
the rights of traditional communities. In this way geographical
indications are viewed as a potential intellectual property
instrument, which blends well with the ethos of the holders of
traditional knowledge and as a consequence much attention has
been drawn towards protecting the rights of indigenous
communities over protection of their traditional knowledge via
The 'informal innovation
system' and the cultural exchange system that are part of
the communities often gives rise to peculiar features in a
setting between the norms and economics of intellectual
property rights and the rights & interests of indigenous
communities. This brings to the fore the features, which in
contrast to other intellectual property rights are relatively
more amenable to the customary practices of indigenous
The 'Knowledge' remains
in the community domain. There is no monopolistic control over
the traditional knowledge / information and hence the fear
regarding the commodification of traditional knowledge on
account of GI becomes unfound.
A particular GI is held as a
right in perpetuity as long as the distinctive link between the
good and the place is maintained which implies that the
traditional knowledge is protected in perpetuity until it
becomes generic which is a highly unlikely case.
The scope of the protection is
limited to the class and/or location of the people who use the
indication, which implies prohibition on the part of the
holders of traditional knowledge to transfer the same to
The amenability of the above
features of geographical indications lies in the fact that it
very well intermingles, reflecting the similar historical and
symbolic link of product and region, with the complex relation
between the traditional knowledge and their holders i.e. the
Presently, in the world over the
protection of traditional knowledge has gained momentum with
demand of disclosure of the origin of the genetic resources in
patent applications and some nations have also developed
sui-generis systems to protect the indigenous
knowledge of their communities. The attention towards extension
of GIs as an IPR instrument to protect traditional knowledge is
certainly a step in furtherance of the importance of
intellectual property rights.
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