To stop hawkers from selling fake Tirupati Laddoos, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), a trust that manages the temple, plans to get a geographical indication (GI) tag. If patent is granted to Tirupati Laddoo by the Registrar of Geographical Indications as per the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 then it could be the first
Hawkers in Tirupati have been selling fake laddus and after several futile attempts to curb this practice, including repeated raids by its security and vigilance wings, TTD finally decided to seek legal protection for its laddu. The GI Act imposes a penalty of Rs50,000 along with six months of imprisonment for people infringing a GI.
Claiming that its laddu is unique in quality and reputation, TTD submitted details to the GI registrar.
But already there are differences of opinion in granting geographical indication (GI) tag to a trust instead of a group of producers.
But to assume that a GI tag is meant to create or protect market monopolies is wide of the mark. That the GI Registry has taken this application seriously is a matter of deep concern. Does geography have anything to do with the Tirupati laddoo? Unless the presiding deity has taken a hand in the making of this ubiquitous sweet, there is no way that this laddoo can justify a GI registration. And if the TTD’s arguments do pass muster, then other laddoo makers in Tirupati would by rights be allowed to make the laddoos, too.
Let me explain why the TTD cannot hope to keep the street vendors out of the business of making laddoos. A GI is an IPR that is related to the place of origin and protects products that have emanated from a certain region — this could be a province or town — and have characteristics that correspond to their specific location. Thus, champagne made in the Champagne region of
from locally grown varieties of grapes, and in a method perfected over decades, is a GI exclusive to that part of the country. Ditto for Scotch whiskey from France Scotland, Darjeelingtea and Malabar pepper from , etc. India
A critical rationale for GIs is that they preserve cultural traditions by benefiting a community of producers. It is not as if one maker of champagne is protecting his private turf with the GI tag. There are dozens of companies and individuals distilling that special taste of Scotch.
Patent or no patent, Balaji devotees are going to eat and take home the huge Tirupati Laddoos as Prasad from Lord Venkateswara.
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