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Advisor to the Prime Minister Abdul Razak Dawood shares prospect of salt being registered as a GI

Assistant to the Prime Minister, Abdul Razak Dawood, has indicated that salt may be registered as a geographical indication

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Adviser to Prime Minister for Commerce and Investment on Friday asked all stakeholders to inform as to what course of action the Ministry of Commerce and intellectual Property (MOC) and Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO) should take for salt Geographical Indication (GI) registration.

In response to my tweet on Geographical Indication (GI) on rice, many people have raised the possibility of registration of Salt as GI; the adviser said this on his Twitter account. The Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO) is looking at items that can be registered as GIs.

What are GIs?

As per the International Law Office, Geographical indications (GIs) are marks, signs, or symbols which indicate that the associated goods originate from a specific geographical area or country, are produced using traditional knowledge or processes stemming from a specific geographical area of a country; and bear distinctive characteristics, qualities and reputations that are attributable to a specific geographical area or country.

Many countries have adopted GI laws to protect indigenous products, including handicrafts and agricultural, natural, horticultural, and industrial products originating from a specific region.

On 27 March 2020, after revisions and much deliberation, Parliament finally passed the Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Act 2020 to establish a system for the recognition, registration, and protection of GI rights in Pakistan.

Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Act 2020

The main purpose of the new act is to provide statutory protection to GIs in consideration of the public interest, economic reforms, and Pakistan’s least developed areas; and legal means for interested parties to prevent third party use of a designation or presentation of goods that indicates or suggests that the goods in question originate from a geographical area or constitute an act of unfair competition under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement).

Under the act, GIs can be registered by a natural or legal person, government organization or statutory body, association, or group of producers or producer organizations or operators interested in the registration.

The definition of ‘geographical indication’ covers agricultural goods, natural goods, or manufactured or produced goods of a particular territory, region, or locality of a certain quality, reputation, or another characteristic of the goods or ingredients or components essentially attributable to its geographical origin. Further, GIs for manufactured goods cover activities relating to the production, processing, or preparation of the goods in a specific territory.

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The act establishes the Geographical Indications Registry, which will be managed and controlled by the Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan (IPO). The IPO Trademarks Registry and its branches established under the Trademarks Ordinance 2001 will carry out functions of the Geographical Indications Registry and its branches until a separate GI registry is established.

GI registration for any or all goods in a definite geographical territory covers classes of goods listed under the international classification of goods for GI registration.

GI registration is prohibited where a mark: would contravene the definition of ‘geographical indication’ under the act; would likely cause deception or confusion; cannot be protected or protection has ceased, or it is no longer used in the country of origin; is considered a generic name or an indication; or is unregistrable on moral or public policy grounds.

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The act also considers homonymous GIs, which are spelled or pronounced similarly but identify products originating from different places, usually in different countries. In principle, these indications should coexist, but such coexistence may be subject to certain conditions.

A homonymous GI can be registered provided that: the registrar is satisfied that it is different from other homonymous GIs; producers of the associated goods will be treated equally, and consumers will not be confused or misled.

GVS News Desk