After several years of legal and administrative battles, the IPR regime of the country has given Geographical Indications tag to the world famous rice variety – Basmati. Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) – the dispute settlement body for intellectual property issues, instructed Geographical Indications Registry to give GI tag for Basmati rice to the Indo-Gangetic Plain region.
Awarding GI means that the crop as a product is a common asset of the specified geographical area. Hence no entities inside or outside India can avail any intellectual property rights including patent or plant verities right for Basmati.
In the past, agri-tech companies tried to duplicate basmati in the name of texmati etc. to get commercial benefits from the famous rice variety of the Indian subcontinent using patent routes in other countries.
The entire process of awarding GI for Basmati that started in 2008 with the application submitted by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APED), was delayed by complaints made by Madhya Pradesh and Pakistan’s Lahore based Basmati Growers Association (BGA).
Madhya Pradesh growers demanded that Basmati growing region should include districts from the state also.
Pakistan growers opposed the GI granting because of the prospects of making basmati as an India based product. India produces 65% of basmati rice while Pakistan producing the rest. Pakistani Punjab and some parts of PoK including Gilgit Baltistan regions also produces basmati.
The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) verdict specifies that the Indo-Gangetic Plains region is the owners of Basmati GI. It covers Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, western UP, and two districts of J&K. Madhya Pradesh claim will be considered later.
The GI tag is awarded by Geographical Indications Registry, established under Directorate of Industrial Policy and Promotion.