GI Protection and Enforcement in India

GI Protection and Enforcement in India

Rajendra Kumar   27 February, 2020


In Europe, in June 2018, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) took legal action before Hamburgʼs Regional Court, complaining of a German distillerʼs use of “GLEN BUCHENBACH” on its label in respect of a German product.

The Hamburg Court sought guidance from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to interpret the GI law. The ECJ held that it was essential for the word “GLEN” to conjure up more than association with Scotland – it must make consumers think of Scotch Whisky specifically. Following this guidance from the ECJ, in February 2019, the Hamburg Court held that the use of the word “GLEN” on a German Whiskey could be misleading for consumers. Following this victory for SWA, there has been a great level of debate within European GI lawyers and other stakeholders as to the extent to which use of evocative terms is permissible for protection of GI rights.

The focus of this article is to show that, much before the ECJʼs decision in Europe, the Indian Courts have been dealing with similar challenges for decades in aid of common law rights in geographical indications. The article attempts to highlight some of these cases.

Rajendra Kumar

Founding Partner