SpicyIP Tidbit: Indian Government joins litigation over ‘Ponni’ trademark in Malaysia

Readers may remember that a couple of months ago Aysha had blogged on Malyasia granting a domestic company a trademark for the name ‘Ponni‘. ‘Ponni’ is actually a variety of rice grown in parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The rice is unique for its low starch and carbohydrates content which means that it can be safely consumed even by people suffering from diabetes.

Well Harish Damodaran reports in the Hindu Business Line that the Indian Government has finally appointed leading IP firm K&S Partners as its legal representative in order to join the ongoing litigation in Malaysia. The government will be trying to argue that the ‘Ponni’ trademark should never have been granted in the first place. As Damodaran reports the matter has assumed significant importance in light of the fact that India has banned all non-basmati rice exports.

However there is still very little information as to whether or not the Government has proceeded with granting Ponni GI protection. Ideally speaking this is a fit case for granting GI protection since the rice in question has unique properties as a result of the locations that it is grown in. Hopefully India will be able to do a better job in protecting this brand than it did in the case of basmati rice.

Prashant Reddy

T. Prashant Reddy graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, with a B.A.LLB (Hons.) degree in 2008. He later graduated with a LLM degree (Law, Science & Technology) from the Stanford Law School in 2013. Prashant has worked with law firms in Delhi and in academia in India and Singapore. He is also co-author of the book Create, Copy, Disrupt: India's Intellectual Property Dilemmas (OUP).


  1. Sneha

    I had a very basic (and maybe a very stupid question!)

    There is usually a pre-grant opposition stage before the trademark is oficially granted. Now, if there is no pre grant opposition, can it be prejudicially held against the subsequent litigator?

  2. ravi srinivas

    They should have it earlier. I am not sure whether Ponni is eligible
    for GI. It is a variety of rice cultivated in parts of south india.I wonder whether its unique
    properties can be identified with
    or attributed to those geographical regions.


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