Super Basmati to the Fore!

Yet another Basmati bombshell is in the offing! The Basmati –patent saga continues and this one comes from right across the border. Pakistan all set to challenge the Indian patent of the Super Basmati, a fresh round of ‘rice diplomacy’ is expected. The Indian Basmati having passed through a phase of protracted wrangling to wrest the Indian grain from the patent pirates, it is turn the turn of the Super Basmati Rice to be embroiled in a battle to establish supremacy of right and legitimacy of origin.

Pakistan plans to take legal action against India over a dispute on patenting of Super Basmati rice, a media report in Islamabad said on Tuesday.

Pakistan accuses India of “deceiving” it by patenting the variety of Basmati rice on the basis of Geographical Indicator (GI) and intends to file a case in the Supreme Court of India.

“Trading Corporation of Pakistan & Rice Export Association of Pakistan will now represent the petitioners in India,” the ‘Observer’ newspaper said quoting officials.

Leaders of the rice exporters associations of both the countries would meet in New Delhi on July 18 to discuss the prospects of joint registration and a joint export strategy of it.

The controversy kicked off, pursuant to a notification dated May 24thMay issued by the Commerce Ministry amending Basmati Rice (Quality Control and Inspection) (Amendment) Rules, 2006 declaring Super Basmati eligible for export. This move in consequence is likely to substantially impact Pakistans’ monopoly sway over the market in terms of export of Super to the West.

While Basmati is sui generis to both India and Pakistan, Pakistan claims that the Super Basmati is an indigenous discovery. In an interesting development, the Founders Group of the Rice Exporters’ Association of Pakistan stated in a presentation to the EU recently that Pakistan’s Super basmati is an authentic variety developed as per the original methods under which Basmati-370 was approved for the first time. Basmati-370 was first found at Kolu Tarrar in Hafizabad district in 1926. India did not grow basmati in commercial quantities as early as the 1970s and eventually developed a variety called Pusa.

In contradistinction, the PunjabAgriculturalUniversity in Ludhiana agrees that the seeds were sourced from Pakistan, but claims that the variety in question is an ‘evolved’ one that was engineered after intensive R&D efforts, and hence its claim to a patent and eligibility to be certified as ‘exportable’ is valid.

Further, to add insult to injury, India acquired a first mover advantage by making the first move to register the Super Basmati G.I in the EU, while Pakistan clearly tarried over establishing its rights. Early bird gets the Super and in that India has clearly obtained an edge over its counterpart.

The fall out of this face off, the G.I talks between India and Pakistan scheduled for the first week of July has been called off, with Pakistan alleging that India has resorted to subversive tactics to acquire the patent vide the notification and G.I.

With the stage set for a pitched battle this one has all the makings of a Super IP Nuke. Both sides equally poised with respective claims that appear legitimate, who will walk away with the spoils of the war is anybody’s guess!



  1. AvatarAysha Shaukat

    Hi Ravi,
    Thanks for the comment and the interest evinced in the post.

    There are diveregent views in the media on the filing of the patent. I am checking on the facts and will revert as soon as I have a fix on the matter.

  2. AvatarAysha Shaukat

    Hi Ravi…Pursuant to your query on the Super Basmati and the realted patent number, I did a check with the Patent Registry and the Big Patents Database compiled by Prof.Bhaven Sampat.

    I found no patent application for the Super Basmati and there is no official confirmation forthcoming from the Registry.

    My hunch is that the claim that India is filing a patent ahs trickled down from the Pakistan media and the Indian media has quoted them verbatim. This appears to be another proverbial case of the media conflating terms gain, this time its a co-laterla confusion appearing on both sidesof the border.

    This issue is mired in confusion too many….where bizzare claims are floating around.I came across a report that said that India is planning to register Super as anational trademark…whatever that means!?!

    However a G.I application that has been filed at the Registry in 2004, and seems to be moving at snails space.

    Here is an interesting article that I found on the Super Basmati G.I

    Hope this helps


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