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Bangladesh to enact law to protect indigenous products
Publication Date : 29-01-2013
The Bangladesh government is set to pass the geographical indication (GI) law in the first parliamentary session of the year to safeguard the patent rights of the country's century-old products.
The law—with its final draft posted on the industries ministry's website—will safeguard the country's claims to products such as jamdani sari, hilsa fish, nakshi kantha and fazli mango, and prevent knock-offs.
“We plan to get the GI law passed in this parliamentary session,” Industries Minister Dilip Barua said, adding that the draft will be forwarded to the law ministry for vetting.
As per the draft, the industries ministry will open a geographical indication wing under the Department of Patents, Designs & Trademarks, with the chief of the wing being the registrar of geographical indications of goods.
The ministry can also open multiple branches of the wing across the country.
The GI is a name or sign used on certain products to certify that they possess certain qualities because they are made according to traditional methods or enjoy a certain reputation due to its geographical origin.
The government has taken the initiative to formulate the GI Act in 2009, with the first draft of the law placed on the industries ministry's website in January last year, a ministry official said.
To register a product, the association or co-operative of the product will have to apply; no one individual can register a product.
Upon receiving the application, the registrar will run a newspaper circular to find out whether any other trade body or association objects to the registration.
If any party wants to oppose the listing, it will have to complain to the GI wing within 60 days from the date of the newspaper circular. The registration of GI goods will be valid for ten years with an option for renewal for another ten years.
If persons or associations are not the real owners of the GI goods and try to get the certificate, they will be punished with a maximum of three years' imprisonment or a fine of 200,000 taka (US$ 2,516) or both.
Mahboob Murshed, a former additional judge and a legal expert, said the GI Act will protect the rights of the real producers of any particular goods in an area.
For example, if the farmers of Dinajpur can register Katari bhog as the rice of Dinajpur under the GI law, none but them can use the Katari bhog name.
If the GI law comes into force, Jamdani can be registered to the country and no foreign country can export any clothing item named Jamdani to Bangladesh, he said.
Murshed also urged the government to be a member of the Lisbon agreement so that Bangladesh can place absolute claims to its products.
“If Bangladesh becomes a party to the Lisbon agreement, Jamdani can be registered as a product of Bangladesh internationally and appellation of origin [special GI] of Jamdani can be assigned in the name of Bangladesh,” he said.
Monira Emdad, president of National Crafts Council of Bangladesh, said the law will give an international right to Bangladesh's traditional craft products against piracy.