Darjeeling Tea to be the first Indian commodity in the EU registry

GUWAHATI: Darjeeling tea is all set to be the first Indian commodity to be included in the EU registry for geographical indications (GI) — a move that will prevent tea originating from any other place from being sold under the name Darjeeling in the EU market.

India applied for inclusion of the product in the EU’s GI registry last week after completion of all formalities, including putting in place a domestic certification system and building a unified supply chain system for all gardens in Darjeeling. It may take up to two years for Darjeeling tea to be granted GI status by the EU.

GI is an indication that identifies a good as originating from a particular place and its reputation gets associated with the place. Once a country recognizes a particular product as a GI, its name cannot be used by the producers of the same product located at a different place. The EU GI registry offers protection to over 5,000 European products for exclusive use of their names.

Speaking to ET, Tea Board chairman Basudeb Banerjee said the application for a GI in EU was a step in the right direction and could prevent the misuse of the name Darjeeling tea. Tea Board has fought more than 15 cases against infringement and misuse of the Darjeeling name in the last few years including from Sri Lanka, the US and France.

Tea Board was successful in seeking rejection of trademark application for Darjeeling Nouveau by US company Republic of Tea (ROT). The Trademark Trial & Appeal Board of the US ruled that ROT had not been able to prove that consumers view Darjeeling tea as a generic type, as opposed to tea from the Darjeeling region in India.

Another important victory for Tea Board was against French company Dusong’s adoption of the Darjeeling mark with a kettle device. The court of appeal of Paris, on November 22, 2006, ruled that Dusong’s mark impaired the GI Darjeeling and is prejudicial to the Tea Board’s interest.

Steps would soon be taken to get Kangra tea, a registered GI in India, to get an EU registry.