- Cabinet approves proposal to amend current IP laws
- NIPO says awarding criteria yet to be drafted
As the ‘Ceylon’ brand continues to be misused in the global market, especially in the case of tea and cinnamon, the government announced its decision to amend the current intellectual property laws to accommodate the Geographical Indication (GI) certification.
With the Cabinet having given the nod to make the required changes to the Intellectual Properties Act No. 36 of 2003, the National Intellectual Property Office (NIPO) said the amendment would be an enhancement to the existing provision.
“The NIPO is the implementing agency and we have put forward the necessary changes and the new additions required to the act. However, there are other line agencies involved as well and they would need to contribute their efforts to make this happen within the relevant time frame,” NIPO Director General Geethanjali R. Ranawaka told Mirror Business.
While plans are conceptualised to extend the necessary legal provisions for the GI certification, which the private sector has repeatedly called for in the recent years, Ranawaka shared that the agency has not drafted the criteria required as yet, to award the certification.
“It is unsure the areas we will have to look into when awarding the GI. Although we, in Sri Lanka, would award the certification, other markets could reject the same, due to lack of proof affirming the origin,” she said.
Ranawaka stressed that companies looking to have their products GI certified must file a comprehensive application that affirms uniqueness and point of origin. Such include soil condition, aroma and taste, among other elements.
The local tea industry is one such that has been grappling with the issue of proving its origin, leading to competing countries to market and promote their crop under the Ceylon Tea brand.
While the industry is yet to single out the uniqueness of Ceylon Tea, the Sri Lanka Tea Board, together with the Atomic Energy Board of Sri Lanka (AEB) has embarked on an initiative to prove the origin by analysing the isotopes. The Cabinet of Ministers has authorised the Trade Ministry to draft a bill to amend the Intellectual Properties Act, with provisions to establish a comprehensive and definite legal framework for the registration of geographical indications in Sri Lanka.
The decision was reached after having acknowledged that a number of products can be promoted as GI and that such products face unfair competition by counterfeit imitations in the local as well as foreign markets.