Save Taxes with Expert Assisted ITR filing.
Starts from ₹799 onwards
Import Export Code

Are GI Tags Helping India’s Export?

Producers and exporters of distinctive regional goods have always made an effort to protect their products from copycats and freeloaders.

A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. There is an obvious connection between the product and its original site of production because the attributes are dependent on the geographic location (GI Tags) of production.

Difference between a GI Tag and a Trade Mark

What distinguishes a trademark from a geographical indication? A good can be identified as coming from a certain location using geographic indicators (GIs). A trademark, on the other hand, distinguishes a product or service as coming from a specific business.

Is GI Tag Standing to Its Distinctive Job in India

Producers and exporters of distinctive regional goods have long tried to protect their products from copycats and freeloaders. Geographical Indication Status, or GI Tag as it is more commonly known, has greatly contributed to the preservation of these distinctive goods. But do GI Tags affect Indian exports in any significant way?

Geographical Indication (GI) tags, which can be applied to natural, agricultural, or manufactured products, serve as verification of the product’s origin and production for others who are unfamiliar with it. An item’s reputation, qualities, and quality, which are typically influenced by its country of origin, are what make it most recognisable. The oldest type of Intellectual Property (IP) protection, according to some experts, is GI status. 

A few goods having GI labels are Feta cheese, Champagne, Tequila, Antigua (Guatemalan) coffee, Ceylon tea, and Kalamata olives. No unauthorised person is allowed to use the tag, which is given to authorised users in a particular country and can only be used by them. However, no foolproof technique has yet been created that provides a specific GI tag with 100% protection.

Geographical indications (GI) status is unique because it “offers a mechanism of guaranteeing that control over the production and a product’s sale stays within a local region, while at the same time makes use of international markets.

How then does a GI Tag Function?

The tag was created to shield customers from false advertising and counterfeit goods and to prevent manufacturers from having to revert to undervaluing their items. For instance, because Darjeeling tea carries a GI tag in India, anyone caught selling it illegally could face legal action. However, you are helpless if a Bangladeshi vendor sells the counterfeit goods in Sudan because that country does not recognise the GI tag on Darjeeling Tea.

The fact that a “multilateral GI registration system” hasn’t yet been formed under the WTO, with the exception of wines and spirits, effectively indicates that GI tags must be registered nationally in order to be of any value.

Nine of the GI tags registered in India are for imported goods, including Napa Valley wine, Scotch whisky, Prosciutto di Parma from Italy, Porto and Douro wines from Portugal, Pisco from Peru, and Tequila from Mexico. The renowned Darjeeling tea, Hyderabadi Haleem, Mysore silk, Madhubani paintings, Jaipur blue ceramics, Naga Mircha (also known as bhut jolokia) Goan feni, and numerous other goods are all made in India. Karnataka (33), Tamil Nadu (24), Kerala (22), UP (21) and Odisha are the top five states with the most GI-tagged items (15).

A GI tag and a trademark are extremely dissimilar in that the former is granted to a commodity from a certain location while the latter is awarded to a commodity from a specific company. The GI product can only be produced in a specific location, whereas the same company can produce a trademarked product anywhere in the world. To alleviate some issues brought on by asymmetric information and free riding on reputation, GI tags can be seen as the “outcome of a process where reputation is institutionalised.” Products with GI tags are more expensive, which increases exporters’ income and encourages producers.

Who then do GI Tags Benefit?

Countries in the developed world or those in the third world? Product recognition functions as insurance or protection for poorer economies, particularly in countries where production occurs in rural regions and with producers who are unable to spend in branding due to a lack of “marketing muscle.” The GI label assists these producers in building brand equity.


The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which was overseen by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and set criteria for protecting member countries’ IPs, is where the GI tag first appeared. TRIPS has generated a good deal of criticism. The definitions of protection under TRIPS are found in Articles 22 and 23. According to Article 22, GIs are regulated to avoid giving the public false information and to stop unfair competition, and as a result, products covered by this article are given the usual protection. Contrarily, Article 23 GI tags for wines and spirits are typically utilised and are subject to greater level of protection.

Multiple-Sided System

Indian lawmakers passed the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act in 1999. Although it is technically prohibited for unauthorised users to utilise GI tags, there is currently no effective way to stop it. At most, the Indian government can write to the Kenyan authorities if a man from Kenya would like to sell rice as Indian basmati rice even if he is not authorised to use the GI tag. What happens, though, if Kenya decides not to act? The amount of time and work required by The All India Rice Exporters’ Association (AIREA) to establish the GI tag for the product in each nation is difficult to even fathom. 

Therefore, it is urgent to ensure that the GI label applied to any product in any country maintains its significance and sense of origin. To that end, once a GI is registered for any good in a country, the database on the WTO website should be updated, and a notice or circular should be distributed to its member governments. The government should then announce in their respective nations that a certain GI registration has been granted.

Darjeeling Tea Case

The first item in India to receive a GI badge were the Darjeeling tea and logo. According to partner Girish Sarda of Nathmulls Tea, “The GI tag was a smart move for the Darjeeling tea business because it ensures the items are real before they are delivered. The majority of the tea that was previously exported under the name Darjeeling tea was false. 

Our laws aren’t strong enough to prevent that, therefore the government needs to be stricter about it. To be quite honest, the GI tag hasn’t had any noticeable effects on business except from the fact that more genuine tea is being sold, he adds when asked about the effect on sales since its installation. It will take time because the laws are not well executed.


The government must take the required actions to make GIs beneficial for Indian exports. The government should look at issues with severe fund shortages among many GIs, a sluggish market, and the application of rules and regulations. Government intervention is required if India hopes to exploit the GI Tag to break into the global market. We will appreciate efforts to raise awareness and build a regulatory framework for it. If you have any queries about any GI Tag, Vakilsearch can help you. Get in touch with us today!

Also Read:


Back to top button


Remove Adblocker Extension