This article on ’Darjeeling Tea GI Tag Protection’ was written by Sai Srinija an intern at Legal Upanishad.
This article helps to know about the history, origin and evolution of the identity of the Darjeeling tea apparently with the concept of Geographical Indication. It analyses the importance and scope of Geographical Indication as a type of Intellectual Property Right. The process of protection of original and high-quality products through these rights is understood. Some interesting questions can be answered through this article like, what kind of products do people choose and which kind of product attract larger set public? Let’s discuss and analyze the need for a GI tag considering the Darjeeling Tea GI Tag Protection.
Darjeeling Tea GI Tag Protection– History and Evolution?
“Tea” is the most famous beverage that is basically familiar to every single person in India. Most of the people in India start their day with a tea without which they may not be able to. The importance that is attracted by this product made it one of the largest manufacturers in India and there exists a variety of tea in India. Hence, India is known for the uniqueness of its product despite not being the largest producer still.
Darjeeling tea is one of those varieties which is accepted and loved by ‘chai lovers’ across the world. The fine colouring and the lightness of flavour distinguish the Darjeeling tea from the other varieties that exist. The story of Darjeeling tea has begun back in the 1830s when India was still under the administration of the Britishers.
In the year 1839, Dr A. Campbell was made the first superintendent of the Darjeeling district; he planted some seeds near his residence that he had brought from the Kumaon hills of North India. The British Company noticing the Growth of Dr Campbell’s tea nursery decided to establish more tea nurseries in the same region in the year 1847. Over the years the plantation tea nurseries increased in the region and the tea produced in that region became famous for its uniqueness.
The graph of the Darjeeling tea was been growing since then and the ownership of the nurseries has been transferred to the Indian businessmen after the Independence. It is exported to various countries like the USA, UK, Japan, Russia and other European countries. Due to the larger admiration that has been gained by the Product, there arose a scope for fake brands to export their products using the name of Darjeeling tea.
To cut down all those activities and to ensure that only genuine Darjeeling tea would be exported, the Government of India established a mandatory requirement for all the dealers of Darjeeling tea to enter into a licensing deal with the Tea Board of India under the Tea Act, 1953 under which they had to pay a fee to obtain a certificate of authenticity to export Darjeeling tea.
Thus, the process of bringing out the identity of Darjeeling tea has been established through 4 stages as follows:
- Application of Tea Act, 1953 – Tea Board of India.
- Protection of the use of the word ‘Darjeeling’ & Logo of Darjeeling Tea.
- Giving the Darjeeling tea GI tag.
- Protection at the International level.
What is a GI tag?
A geographical indication is an indicator of the fact that certain types of goods or products originated from a specific territory of a country or a region of that territory, provided that a high-quality reputation or some other special and unique characteristics of the products can be attributed to the geographical location. In other words, geographical indications help in recognizing the essential role played by climatic or geographical factors and/or by human skills in the end quality of a product.
Importance of GI Tag and Application On Darjeeling Tea
GI is a tag that is applied to goods that have a particular geographical origin and that have characteristics or a reputation that are accredited to that origin. So, when we look at “Darjeeling Tea,” there was an establishment of a Tea board under the Tea Act, of 1953 to ensure the authenticity of Darjeeling tea which is under sale and exported at the global level. But the rapid globalization and export to many countries made it difficult to check on each and every product.
Hence, in the past few years, the Tea board fought against many issues relating to misappropriation and misuse of the Darjeeling Tea word in countries like Japan, France, Russia, Norway, the US, Germany, Israel, and the state.
Therefore, the need for legal protection arose at the moment. It has been noticed that bringing on the Darjeeling Tea GI Tag would lock the door for the products which are fake and sold in the market under the identity and reputation of the original Darjeeling tea. The business step by step completed that unless Darjeeling Tea is properly promoted and branded, the company’s property could also be jeopardized which GI protection, let alone strict social control, will go a protracted manner toward helping the world in up its money standing also.
GI Tag Protection at International Level
The Darjeeling Tea GI Tag is protected under the TRIPS agreement. Further, to prevent the fraudulent use of the word and logo of Darjeeling tea, the Tea Board hired Compumark which is a World Wide Watch agency. The agency was tasked with the job of monitoring and reporting all the cases of misuse and fraudulent attempt of registering the word and logo of Darjeeling tea. Several such cases were reported to the Tea Board. For example, a Switzerland-based company by the name of Bulgari had to withdraw its application to register a tag line for its perfume which was Darjeeling Tea fragrance for men.
As it has been analysed above, Every customer expects the product they buy to be original, authentic and of high quality. And the environmental conditions needed for such original products’ existence are admired and respected. In the expectance of high-quality products, we are bound to preserve such sources through which they are able to exist around the globe. Hence, Darjeeling Tea GI Tag is the best positive step that has been taken to protect the originality and quality of the product whereas bringing on the international identification is an add-on.
- SourceTrace, Protecting Darjeeling Tea: The Tea From The Queen Of The Hills < https://www.sourcetrace.com/blog/protecting-gi-darjeeling-tea/#:~:text=In%20October%202004%2C%20Darjeeling%20Tea,leaves%2C%20all%20in%20a%20roundel.>.
- Darjeeling tea (word and logo) and its protection under GI tag: an analysis- Part 1 < https://blog.ipleaders.in/darjeeling-tea-word-logo-protection-gi-tag-analysis/> (11 June 2021).
- WIPO https://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/geoind/en/wipo_geo_lim_11/wipo_geo_lim_11_11.pdf.