APEDA discloses legal expenses on ‘Basmati’ – Rs. 7,62,00,000 and counting;


Finally, after much coaxing and at least one appeal, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has disclosed its legal expenses on protecting and registering the phrase ‘Basmati’ as a ‘trademark’ and as a ‘geographical indication’. The response can be viewed over here
As per APEDA’s reply, “An amount of Rs. 7.62 crores (Rs. 7,62,00,000) has been paid to M/s K&S Partners as aggregate professional fee from 1995-96 to 2011-12 (upto 31.3.2012) towards protection of intellectual property vested in Basmati rice in Indian and foreign jurisdiction”. 
This money has supposedly been spent on the following legal actions: 
(i) Indian trademark actions – over 350; 

(ii) Foreign trademark actions – over 200 in over 50 jurisdictions worldwide; 
(iii) One patent revocation matter in the USA; 
(iv) Proceedings before the G.I. Registry in Chennai for registration of Basmati rice as a G.I.” 

In an earlier RTI (accessible over here) when we had asked APEDA for information on steps taken by them to protect ‘basmati’ in foreign jurisdictions we were offered only “65 pages” of “concluded actions”. How do 200 actions fit into 65 pages? 
In any case, as is obvious, APEDA has spent quite the ‘bomb’ on protecting ‘basmati’ and yet we are no closer to seeing ‘Basmati’ registered as a G.I. despite it being 13 years since India enacted the Geographical Indication Act, 1999. This is particular tragic since ‘basmati’ has already been declared ‘generic’ in the U.S.A. (View the FTC document over here) There is a danger of the same happening in the E.U. 
I’m very curious to know about these 350 Indian actions and 200 foreign actions to protect ‘basmati’ and that will the subject of my next RTI application.
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Prashant Reddy

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).

4 comments.

  1. AvatarAnonymous

    Dear Prashant,
    It is a great efforts that you have been able to collect the details on legal expenses. APEDA has paid RS 5.0 plus crore to foreign law firm on revocation of part of claims on Basmati and monitoring the Trade mark registers in foreign jurisdiction not on registering a Trade Mark which primarily a search activity and why did APEDA engage a law firm is difficult to understand it could have been done by themselves at a practically no cost, therefore tangible out come has been revocation of claims in Basmati Patent case at USPTO. In sharp contrast you informed that CSIR spent Rs 15 crore in creating TKDL in last ten years and got successfully cancelled/withdrawn 100 patents at no cost, I have seen several Examiners Report on TKDL site where TKDL has been greatly appreciated by the Examiners of International Patent Offices

    Reply
  2. AvatarAnonymous

    Prashant, After all you have done it. I remember having asked you on 6/6/2012 to file an appeal before CIC. I am repeating the same as I had said on 6/6/2012 for the sake of repetition as follows ”You must file the appeal to CIC. This P-U-B-L-I-C-I-N-T-E-R-E-S-T theory is killing.
    The problem is there is no proper accountability. My opinion is that in these kinds of case, there should be some penalty imposed on the PIO/CPIO and the FAA in case the CIC holds that the information sought for has been wrongly/ deliberately withheld, particularly in this kind of a case where this kind of extraneous demand of P-U-B-L-I-C-I-N-T-E-R-E-S-T is made. This seems to have been denied dishonestly.

    Please go ahead with your RTIs as you have stated about asking for the details about these 350 Indian actions and 200 foreign actions to protect ‘basmati’.

    Reply
  3. AvatarPrashant Reddy

    @ Anon (7:52 AM): I think we’ve already filed appeals with the CIC – the only problem appears to be that the CIC has a huge pendency and from what I hear it could take one year to decide a case. It is very unfortunate but this kind of backlog was inevitable with only 10 commissioners on the CIC.

    Prashant

    Reply
  4. AvatarAnonymous

    I am aware of a case where the appeal was filed in second week of February, 2012, the hearing has now been fixed by CIC in early September, 2012. So now they are taking about 7 months. Hope the time would reduce by the passage of time.

    Reply

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