Tamil Nadu set to register Pattamadai Mats and Nachiarkoil Lamps as GIs

(Images taken from here and here)
It is now the turn of Geographical Indications (GI) to once again come into the limelight after a short period of absence. For the uninitiated, GI with respect to a product is defined as that aspect of the product that refers to a country/region/place as being the point of origin of that product. Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the fact of it having originated from that country/region/place. Articles 1(2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement recognize GI as a form of intellectual property. As a part of its WTO membership India had legislated the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999, dealing with registration and protection of GI. For a step-by-step description of the process of registering a product as a GI under this Act and for a list of registered GIs under the Act, see here.

The southern states of India have in the past exhibited considerable awareness and initiative in GI registration, as have been evinced in the matters of the renowned Tirupathi laddu (for posts on this topic, see here, here and here) and Kanchipuram silk saris. Recently, the Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development has sought to get the famous Pattamadai mats (Pattamadai pai from Tirunelveli district) and Nachiarkoil brass lamps (traditional lamps from Nachiarkoil in the Kumabakonam taluk in Thanjavur district) registered under the provisions of the 1999 Act. To this effect, applications have been filed with the Geographical Indications Registry, Chennai.

The Pattamadai mats display a unique form of weaving by Labbai Muslims from ‘korai’ grass grown on the banks of river Tamiraparani. They can also boast of a rich and old tradition from a long time back, given the existence of historical records of a hand-woven superfine silk mat of the same variety having been among the gifts sent to Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her coronation in June, 1953.

Chinnaraja G. Naidu, the Assistant Registrar of Trade Marks and Geographical Indications, has confirmed the publication of the applications sent by the Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development in the journal under the provisions of the Act and said that the GIs would be registered by the end of January, 2013 after the statutorily prescribed period of 90 days is over.

The continuing success of Tamil Nadu in getting its GIs registered and therefore providing a boost to indigenous production and trade may serve as an example to other states in the country.


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