February 24, 2023

Geographical Indications in Intellectual Property Rights

This article has been written by Ms. Madhavi Sanapala, a 5th year LLB Student from Dr. B. R. Ambedkar College of Law, Andhra University.    


A geographical indication (GI) identifies products or goods whose quality or reputation originates from the geographical area in which they are produced. Geographic indicators are used to indicate the origin of products – for example, Scotch whisky originating from Scotland – for both consumers and producers alike. Geographic indicators help producers differentiate their products based on location, ensuring that goods with high-quality characteristics are protected from being misrepresented as goods with similar characteristics form elsewhere.

Geographical indications are becoming increasingly popular as they offer unique benefits to producers while helping consumers recognize the origin of their products. In this article, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the concept of geographical indications and their importance in protecting and promoting intellectual property rights.

What Are Geographical Indications and How Do They Work?

A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possesses qualities, reputation, or any other characteristics that are essentially linked to its origin.

In simpler terms, it’s an identifier between a product and its place of origin. Think of GIs as a form of brand protection—they prevent others from manufacturing, selling, or labeling the same product while misrepresenting it as originating from another region.

For example, Kanchi Pattu. Not only do GIs protect products from misrepresentation, but they also help enhance the product’s prestige and value in the market by highlighting unique characteristics associated with its origin.

The History and Evolution of Geographical Indications

GI’s first appeared in the 18th century when some European countries started protecting their geographical products by allowing them exclusive rights to use the names. This concept has evolved over time, but its main purpose has remained the same: to promote the communities that have historically held these unique traditions.

Today, not only do GI’s help protect the intellectual property (IP) rights of small-scale producers and farmers, but they also help differentiate premium products from other similar items. For example, real Champagne comes from France with a designated geographical label that sets it apart from sparkling wines elsewhere. This helps consumers buy with confidence knowing that they are getting the product or service associated with its specific origin.

Benefits and importance of Geographical Indications

GI is a powerful tool for helping countries promote their culture and traditions, as well as for economic development. It’s also been used to give producers of artisanal products an edge in the marketplace, and by giving special recognition to products from certain regions, producers have an easier time competing in a global market.

To summarize, here are the main benefits of GI for IP rights:

  • Protecting traditional know-how and promoting innovation
  • Providing economic benefits to producers of artisanal products
  • Giving artists the recognition they deserve
  • Allowing producers to compete in the global market

    Challenges Associated With the Protection of Geographical Indications

    Protecting geographical indications is not without its challenges. Even though lawmakers and regulators may understand the importance of protecting GIs, there are still a few challenges associated with it.

    Weak Enforcement Mechanisms

    Although the TRIPS Agreement provided strong protections for GIs, it lacks mechanisms to enforce them effectively. In fact, many countries lack the legal infrastructure to protect their GIs, not to mention their resources that can be used for enforcement activities.

    Confusion With Other Types of Intellectual Property

    In addition to weak enforcement mechanisms, there’s confusion between geographical indications and other types of intellectual property rights like trademarks, which can make it difficult to protect GIs from being infringed upon or copied.

    Misappropriation by Multinational Corporations

    Another challenge with protecting geographical indications is that many multinational corporations have taken advantage of GIs by misappropriating them and using them in a manner not intended by originators. For example, a company may use a GI in a product that has nothing to do with the originator or its original geographic region.

    Since geographical indicators represent not just regional areas but also the culture and history of those areas, it’s important that governments seek solutions that will protect GIs from misuse or misappropriation by multinationals.

    Examples of Registered Geographical Indications

    When it comes to geographical indications, there are some that are renowned and well-established, while others may come as a bit of a surprise. Here are a few examples of some famous products with registered geographical indications:


    Few alcoholic beverages can compete with the sparkling bubbles and complex flavors of French Champagne. It is primarily produced in the Champagne region around Reims and Epernay, France.

    Darjeeling Tea

    Elegant black tea leaves grown in the high mountain gardens in India’s Darjeeling district have a unique flavor, color, and aroma that are protected by Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC). This means that tea leaves harvested outside of this district cannot be called Darjeeling tea.

    These impressive examples demonstrate how geographic indications help protect intellectual property rights in different parts of the world. Not only do they guarantee consumers they’re getting genuine products, but they also help promote companies’ reputations as well as their locally-grown goods.

    How to protect your geographical indications

    Geographical indications (GIs) can be a great way to set your products apart from the competition and protect your intellectual property rights. But to make sure your GIs are protected, you need to know how they work.

    Here’s how you can protect your GIs:

    Registering with the Trademark Office: To start off, you’ll need to register with the trademark office in every country where you want to use the GI. This is important as it allows you to start protecting your GI right away and gives you the right to take legal action against anyone who infringes on it.

    Make sure your product is special: It’s important that your product or service is distinct enough from other similar products or services in that area, otherwise, it won’t qualify as a GI and won’t be eligible for protection.

    Establishing a corporate identity: It is important that when registering for a GI, you also create a corporate identity by creating trademarks and logos for your product as this will help differentiate it from others in the region and help protect it from infringement.

    Monitoring market activity: Lastly, make sure you monitor the market regularly so that any potential infringements are caught early on before they cause any serious damage to your brand or reputation.

    By taking these steps, you can ensure that no one takes advantage of or tries to use your geographical indications without permission – allowing your company to enjoy all the benefits of having a GI associated with its name.

Registration of GI products

Also, many countries require the registration of a product before it can be protected as a GI product. This process allows producers to demonstrate that their product meets certain standards and that its production is subject to certain restrictions – such as using particular ingredients or special processing/preparation methods – which must be used in order to produce the product.

Legal Regulations on Geographical Indications

GIs in Law

Legally, geographical indications are protected by trademark law which is specific legislation created to protect certain kinds of intellectual property rights– such as a geographical indication. 


It’s safe to say that GIs have a relevant role in protecting intellectual property rights. While there are still challenges to overcome in the implementation, GIs are key for economic and cultural protection, allowing local and regional food products to shine and rake in profits for small producers and local economies.
GIs also level a playing field where traditionally disadvantaged producers can get recognition for their work, and this, in turn, allows these small businesses to gain an edge over their multinational counterparts. GIs are a vital tool for countries to protect their local goods and products, and promoting them is key for the sustainability of IP rights.



Aishwarya Says:

Law students often face problems, which they cannot share with their friends and families. We have started a column on our website Student’s Corner. In this column we are talking to several law students about the challenges that they face. Students who are interested in participating in the same, can fill this Google Form.


The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems to aishwarya@aishwaryasandeep.com

Join our  Whatsapp Group for latest Job Opening

Related articles