SpicyIP Tidbit: A G.I for the Dolls

The Temple City of Tanjavur and the capital of the Chola dynasty is as much known for its ‘Thalai Aati Bommai’. Translated, this colloquial Tamil term means the ‘Nodding Dolls’.

Produced by the by the indigenous craftsmen of Tanjavur, this craft has become synonymous with the place, earning itself legal accreditation at the G.I Registry

The GI-registered dolls, which are believed to have come to Tanjavur during King Sarafoji’s regime in the early 19th century, are unique as they remain vertical and upright always, thanks to a clay tablet placed inside the round curved pedestal.
From now on, the term dancing doll of Tanjavur’ would refer only to the authentic Raja-Rani’ pair, which stand on a curved pedestal.
Putting the Tanjavur dolls under GI protection is no mean achievement as it is common for the entire world. Just like trademarks, the GI mark too are source-identifiers. Besides ensuring monopoly for the association or group the Tanjavur Chamber of Commerce in this case the GI mark shields a product from bogus claims and poor quality. (TOI)

In the context of craft based G.Is there has been rather ticklish issue that has come up for consideration in the recent past.

Migration of labor is commonplace amongst the craft community, where the craftsmen relocates to a place outside of the designated G.I territory but still continues to practice his indigenous craft.Would he then still be entitled to produce and market his goods as a registered G.I user?In a recent dialogue on this issue at a symposium on G.Is, I came across this interesting comment ‘You can move the artisan out but not the art out of the place’ Can this be used as a guiding principle in formulating a position on this. Inconclusive, and thoughts to throw light on this issue are welcome.


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5 thoughts on “SpicyIP Tidbit: A G.I for the Dolls”

  1. Would he then still be entitled to produce and market his goods as a registered G.I user?

    The defn of GI as in s. 2(e) of the Act demands that the product is either manufactured/originates/one of the processes involved in its manufacture takes place in the concerned place. In this view, there seems absolutely no ambiguity…

  2. Hi Divs,

    The quintessential nature of a G.I right is that it is intended to be a community right,enjoyed by a collective group of people sharing a common environment, rights and privileges.

    When the product is manufactured by a producer in a place outside designated G.I area, it detracts from the concept of community.

    Further it misleads the buyer into believing that it was manufactured in its native origins, when in fact it has not.



  3. @Aysha
    It’s fairly apparent that India has not followed the French/European model of I.G./G.I. Under the French model, the quintessence of a G.I. would also be its inability to be produced elsewhere. For instance, while ham can be packaged anywhere, its immediate packaging in the same community is required under European laws on G.I. The argument made in case of food is not only the expertise of the farmers and the food-growers, but that of the acidity of the soil, the temperature, the kinds of animals present there, etc., etc. Or “environment”, as you put it, for short.

    You’re begging the question in your response to Divs. You assume that a product manufactured outside the designated area detracts from the concept of “community” while you are required to prove exactly that. How does it do so? If upon finding that the kind of wood required to make these dolls is no longer available in Tanjore, a good number of the artisans move to Malgudi where such wood is still available in plenty, would that also take away from the concept of community? And doll production might not be a community activity. So why is the sense of community so important?

    All that I am asking is: What is the purpose of designating Tanjore Dolls as G.I.? What is the conception of G.I. in India? Is it just a means of the government forsaking all responsibility towards social welfare by saying: “Now we have declared your artwork G.I., so you should magically be able to take care of yourself”? Or is it something else? The answer to the purpose question will give us clues to the requirements of community, “geographical-ness” requirements of G.I., etc. Clues might be found in the Act itself. I am much too lazy to go look it up.


  4. @AC….The development dimension of the G.I Act was as much a priority in legislating this Act.

    Increasingly the G.I right is being viewed as a tool to revive languishing crafts and better the socio-economic conditions of the artisanal cluster.

    In the Indian context,it has been observed that community members migrate to better economic prospects and not due to an inability per se to produce the item.

    That be, should they still be entitled to a registered user status?



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