Finally, after much coaxing and at least one appeal, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has disclosed its legal expenses on protecting and registering the phrase ‘Basmati’ as a ‘trademark’ and as a ‘geographical indication’. The response can be viewed over here.
As per APEDA’s reply, “An amount of Rs. 7.62 crores (Rs. 7,62,00,000) has been paid to M/s K&S Partners as aggregate professional fee from 1995-96 to 2011-12 (upto 31.3.2012) towards protection of intellectual property vested in Basmati rice in Indian and foreign jurisdiction”.
This money has supposedly been spent on the following legal actions:
“(i) Indian trademark actions – over 350;
(ii) Foreign trademark actions – over 200 in over 50 jurisdictions worldwide;
(iii) One patent revocation matter in the USA;
(iv) Proceedings before the G.I. Registry in Chennai for registration of Basmati rice as a G.I.”
In an earlier RTI (accessible over here) when we had asked APEDA for information on steps taken by them to protect ‘basmati’ in foreign jurisdictions we were offered only “65 pages” of “concluded actions”. How do 200 actions fit into 65 pages?
In any case, as is obvious, APEDA has spent quite the ‘bomb’ on protecting ‘basmati’ and yet we are no closer to seeing ‘Basmati’ registered as a G.I. despite it being 13 years since India enacted the Geographical Indication Act, 1999. This is particular tragic since ‘basmati’ has already been declared ‘generic’ in the U.S.A. (View the FTC document over here) There is a danger of the same happening in the E.U.
I’m very curious to know about these 350 Indian actions and 200 foreign actions to protect ‘basmati’ and that will the subject of my next RTI application.