SpicyIP Tidbit: GI Protection on Rice redundant.

SpicyIP has blogged frequently on the advantages of enforcing Intellectual Property and off late, the rise in GI filing in India has pleasantly surprised us all. However, as the Economic Times reports, the recent ban on export of rice to cool down inflation seems to have contradicted the government’s own GI protectionist policy. While the ban has not hit the fragrant and popular Basmati, it has effectively blocked local efforts (that are protected or soon to be protected by GIs) trying to make their presence felt in the global rice markets such as Palakkadan Matta rice and Pokkali rice.

While the ban by the Government has obviously been called in light of the rising costs of staple food products such as rice, the present policy of the Government does not make sense in the face of logic. By imposing such a ban, the Government’s policy only seems redundant and removes any or all protection that helping small time agriculturists who continue to grow indegenious varieties of rice- not leaving any scope for growth they could possibly achieve during this period.
Perhaps instead of an absolute ban, the Government can consider regulation of the quantities of such varieties when exported. Ohterwise the GI protection offered would in fact be worthless.

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4 thoughts on “SpicyIP Tidbit: GI Protection on Rice redundant.”

  1. Hi this is a comment that i received that i thought i should answer on the blog itself.

    I just couldn’t get the issue right. Where & what is the probable IP (or GI) angle, which you trying to highlight.

    Rgds, Vinish

    Dear Vinish

    In this post, what I sought to highlight was the fact that the Government seems to be taking a contradictory stand. While on one hand they hope to be protecting indigenous varieties of rice, on the other hand they have imposed an absolute ban on their export. GIs have been introduced to help bolster a long term goal to the market and sell local rice varieties.

    You can probably link this to our previous posts on GIs for Teas etc. Hopefully I’ve answered your question.


  2. Also thanks to Mr. Biju Nambiar for a mail sent, that i attach below. Hopefully I have made the necessary changes.


    Dear Kruttika,
    I am Biju working as a senior member of the Intellectual Property Practicing Group of Majmudar and co.,International Lawyers.
    I have seen your posting regarding the G.Is of rice varieties on the basis of E.T report.It is heartening to see the concen that you are showing on the subject.At the same time i would like to point out two mistakes appeared in your posting as well as in the ET report.
    1-The two rice varieties which have got G.I Registration are ‘Palakkadan Matta’ and ‘Njavara’ (Navara).Both are from Kerala and the Navara is a variety having unique medicinal propoerties.This is wideley used in the Ayurvedic treatments.
    2-Pokkali rice (not Pakkali) is another variety of rice from Kerala awaiting G.I Registration which is under process.This is also an unique variety grown in saline water and cultivated in the organic way.

    Biju K.Nambia

  3. Hi,
    The reasons for imposing a ban on rice exports is closely connected to demand and supply factors, decline in rice production, increase in patterns of domestic consumption, domestic inflation in essential food commodities etc… Do you mean to say that Indian consumers should pay through their nose and watch the championing of GI protection? You should understand that the government is well informed about the “contextual” economics which you were attempting to highlight. It is very a naive argument to add GI angle to it. While I agree with you that a total ban is inadvisable, but what should also be noted is the fact the these rice varieties do not have a premium based on GI protection (You may think about differences between French GIs on varieties of cheese and this one). They have good markets in the middle east because Malayalis consume it, but not as much in the west. I trust you will really stand up to your faith in “contextualizing” IP protection by considering all these factors. Do not feel provoked by news paper reports. You could do better by also understanding that the best beneficiaries of GI protection in India are the traders- and not the “poor” farmers- as the report highlights. Lobbying is always done in the guise of the poor, and they usually are not the ultimate beneficiaries.

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