IPONZ rejects Indian Government's trade mark for BASMATI

Article  \  1 Jul 2024

The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) recently issued its decision declining the Government of India’s certification application for the BASMATI word mark, citing the existence of rice growers outside of India who also have a legitimate right to use the term.

'BASMATI' refers to a fragrant long-grain rice variety traditionally grown in the Indian subcontinent. The Government of India has sought to protect the term to preserve its cultural and economic significance in the product. However, IPONZ's decision underscores a broader debate over geographical indications and the rights of producers from different regions.

While the Government of India argued for exclusive rights based on the historical association of 'BASMATI' with its agriculture and culinary traditions, IPONZ acknowledged that the evidence provided actually showed that other rice-producing countries such as Pakistan also contribute to the market for this sought-after rice variety.

This decision is likely to spark discussions and further legal challenges regarding the ownership and protection of geographical indications in international trade. Especially as the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan has also applied for its own certification application to protect its rights.

It’s unlikely that this will be the end of this ongoing battle for rights in the BASMATI mark. We will continue to monitor developments and provide further updates.

If you need advice on protecting a word mark, or on the application of geographical indications to one of your products, reach out to our team of IP specialists for assistance.

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