After a wait for almost two years, Darjeeling Tea, is now on the verge of being granted the status of a Geographical Indication by the European Union. The EU is currently inviting public comments. This is a significant step as this is potentially the final step before Darjeeling Tea is deemed to be a G.I. by the E.U.
‘Darjeeling Tea’ has already been granted a G.I.
status by a few individual member-states such as the United Kingdom and Germany. However with the European Commission granting Darjeeling Tea the status of a G.I., all E.U. members will be bound to consider Darjeeling Tea as a G.I.
As our readers must already know a Geographical Indication is granted for a product which derives its special properties due to certain factors that can be traced to either the climate, the resources or the skills of the people of a particular geographical area. The most popular examples of course are Champagne and Scotch. In this case the distinctive flavour and taste of Darjeeling Tea is attributed in part to the climate and soil properties of Darjeeling.
Unlike what some newspapers may want you to believe, it is our firm belief that G.I.s have absolutely no link to patents. The only right a G.I. bestows upon a community is that it forbids any entity or person whose product is not from the geographical region associated with the G.I. to ever use the G.I.
Moreover G.I.s are a collective right as a result of which G.I.s as a rule are granted only to a community of producers. Darjeeling Tea for example is registered in the name of the Tea Board of India.
This makes the Tea Board of India the authority responsible for initiating enforcement action against those infringing the Darjeeling Tea G.I. For a fantastic case study on the problems faced by the Tea Board in maintaining the distinctiveness of the Darjeeling Tea, in Japan, France and Russia please click here.