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  Darjeeling Tea - The Best :
(A quest for intellectual property rights)
 
   
10 million kgs of tea grown every year
87 Tea gardens grow this fabled tea
at over 5,000 mts. above sea level
spread over 17,500 hectares of land
4 flushes
Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one"
 
     
    -- Ancient Proverb
 
The quality, reputation and characteristics of Darjeeling tea are essentially attributable to its geographical origin It possesses a flavour and quality which sets it apart from other teas, giving it the stature of a fine vintage wine. As a result it has won the patronage and recognition of discerning consumers worldwide for more than a century. Any member of the trade or public in ordering or purchasing Darjeeling tea will expect the tea to be the tea cultivated, grown and produced in the defined region of the District of Darjeeling and to have the special characteristics associated with such tea.  Consequently, Darjeeling tea that is worthy of its name cannot be grown or manufactured anywhere else in the world. Darjeeling tea cannot be replicated anywhere. It is this equity that is sought to be protected by the Tea Board and the Ministry of Commerce under the norms of the TRIPS Agreement of the WTO.As champagne cannot be manufactured in any place other than the Champagne District of France (even though the grapes used are the same kind) but has to be referred to as sparkling wine, in the same manner only tea grown and produced in the defined area of the Darjeeling District in  State of West Bengal, India can be called DARJEELING tea. Any tea grown in any other region from the same sort of tea plants cannot be called Darjeeling tea. Darjeeling tea, a rare coveted brew which is desired globally, but is only grown in INDIA.
   
  Darjeeling- A Paradise :  
 

In the northeast Indian region of Darjeeling, women tea pluckers make their way up the steep mountain paths every day at dawn towards the 87 fabled gardens that have been producing the highly prized black teas for over 150 years. Located on grand estates some perched at altitudes of over 5,000 mts. the gardens are in fact plantations that, at times, stretch over hundreds of acres. But, they are still 'gardens', because all tea grown here bears the individual name of the garden in which it is grown.

First planted in early 19th century, the incomparable quality of Darjeeling teas is the result of unique and complex combination of agro-climatic conditions prevailing in the region, altitude, meticulous manufacture and disdain for quantity. The climate of Darjeeling is perfect for tea cultivation. Tea requires at least 50 inches of rainfall annually. Alternate spells of rain and sunshine are considered good for the crop. Also, the fog helps in maintaining the required level of moisture. The tea bush grows at a height of 700 to 7000 metres above sea level, so it has all the space that it needs to grow.

 
Why is the location such a hallmark?
 

There are both scientific as well as popular religious beliefs behind why Darjeeling is the most suitable place to grow tea. The local people believe that the Himalayan range is the abode of Shanker Mahadeva and the breath of God brings winds that cool the brow of the sun filled valley, and the mist and fog which provide the moisture. The fountain that flows from the piled hair of Shiva provides water for the crop and it thrives. The diversity of Darjeeling tea is further accentuated by differences in wind and rainfall that depend on the altitude and exposure of the slopes under cultivation.

The quality, reputation and characteristics of Darjeeling tea are essentially attributable to its geographical origin.  It possesses a flavour and quality which sets it apart from other teas, giving it the stature of a fine vintage wine. As a result it has won the patronage and recognition of discerning consumers worldwide for more than a century. Any member of the trade or public when ordering or purchasing Darjeeling tea will expect the tea to be the tea cultivated, grown and produced in the defined region of the District of Darjeeling and to have the special characteristics associated with such tea. 

Consequently, Darjeeling tea that is worthy of its name cannot be grown or manufactured anywhere else in the world.

Darjeeling tea cannot be replicated anywhere.

       

 

  DARJEELING TEA – a Geographical Indication :  
 

Under international law, geographical indications mean indications which identify a product as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.
 
Darjeeling tea is India’s treasured Geographical Indication and forms a very important part of India’s cultural and collective intellectual heritage.  It is of considerable importance to the economy of India because of the international reputation and consumer recognition enjoyed by it. 

In the legal sphere, countries are seeking to protect Geographical Indications as geographical indications, collective marks or certification marks.
 
       

 

  Tea Board, India :  
 

All teas produced in the tea growing areas of India, including Darjeeling, are administered by the Tea Board, India under the Tea Act, 1953.  Since its establishment, the Tea Board has had sole control over the growing and exporting of Darjeeling tea and it is this control which has given rise to the reputation enjoyed by Darjeeling tea. The Tea Board has been engaged on a world-wide basis in the protection and preservation of this treasured icon of India’s cultural heritage as a geographical indication.

To assist the Tea Board in its role of authenticating regional origin of Darjeeling tea, it has developed the following logo – known as the DARJEELING logo:

 
  At a legal level, Tea Board is the owner of all intellectual property rights in the DARJEELING word and logo both in common law and under the provisions of the following statutes in India:

(i)         The Trade Marks Act 1999: DARJEELING word and logo are registered certification marks of Tea Board;

(ii)        The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999: DARJEELING word and logo were the first Geographical Indications to be registered in India in the name of the Tea Board:

(iii)       The Copyright Act, 1957: The DARJEELING logo is copyright protected and registered as an artistic work with the Copyright Office.

Use of the DARJEELING word and logo are protected as Geographical Indications in India and as Certification Trade Marks in UK, USA and India. A major development in this area is the registration of the Darjeeling word as a community collective mark in the European Union.

The DARJEELING logo is registered in Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, former Yugoslavia, Egypt and Lebanon as a collective mark, in Canada as an official mark, as a trademark in Japan and Russia. The DARJEELING word is also registered as a trademark in Russia. Tea Board has pending applications for registration of the Darjeeling word as a certification mark in Australia, as a community collective mark in the EU and as a collective mark in Germany and Japan. 

As a pre-requisite for domestic and international protection of Darjeeling as a certification trademark and a geographical indication, the Tea Board has formulated and put in place a comprehensive certification scheme wherein the definition of Darjeeling tea has been formulated to mean tea that:

(a)       is cultivated, grown or produced in the 87 tea gardens in the defined geographic areas and which have been registered with the Tea Board;
(b)       has been cultivated, grown or produced in one of the said 87 tea gardens;
(c)        has been processed and manufactured in a factory located in the defined geographic area; and
(d)       when tested by expert tea tasters, is determined to have the distinctive and naturally occurring organoleptic characteristics of taste, aroma and mouth feel typical of tea cultivated, grown and produced in the region of Darjeeling, India. 

The certification scheme put in place by the Tea Board covers all stages from the production level to the export stage and meets the dual objective of ensuring that (a) tea sold as Darjeeling tea in India and worldwide is genuine Darjeeling tea produced in the defined regions of the District of Darjeeling and meets the criteria laid down by the Tea Board and (b) all sellers of genuine Darjeeling tea are duly licensed.  This licensing program affords the Tea Board the necessary information and control over the Darjeeling tea industry to ensure that tea sold under the certification marks adheres to the standards for DARJEELING tea as set forth by the Tea Board.

Thus, only 100% Darjeeling tea is entitled carry the DARJEELING logo.  While purchasing Darjeeling tea, you need to look for Tea Board’s certification and license number otherwise you will not get the taste and character that you should expect from Darjeeling tea.

At the administrative level, Tea Board has taken the flowing steps to ensure the supply chain integrity of Darjeeling tea

  1. The use of Darjeeling tea in multi-origin mixtures made subject to correct labeling requirements to protect the customer against any deception or confusion;
  1. The use of the expression “blended Darjeeling tea” or its variants restricted to a blend of Darjeeling teas only drawn from more than one tea garden within the definition of Darjeeling tea;
  1. Labeling guidelines formulated and issued to govern and regulate use of Darjeeling name and logo marks as part of trademarks and thus prevent any misuse thereof for teas other than Darjeeling tea;
  1. Detailed inspection procedures put in place to ensure the integrity and purity of the supply chain for grant of the Certificate of Origin by the Tea Board.
  1. Customs Notification dated June 25, 2001 issued making all exports of Darjeeling Tea subject to mandatory proof of such certificate of origin.

While the efforts to obtain statutory protection in the DARJEELING word and logo are an essential part of the strategy to protect the integrity of Darjeeling tea, a major plank of all the initiatives undertaken by the Tea Board has been to prevent dilution of the integrity of Darjeeling tea in the following ways:

  1. preventing dealings in tea which is not drawn from any of the 87 gardens or which is a mixture of non-Darjeeling and Darjeeling teas and sold under and by reference to the name DARJEELING and/or DARJEELING logo;
  2. action against attempted registration and/or use of Darjeeling not only in respect of tea or related products but other diverse dissimilar products or services as well. 

This is also part of India international obligations under TRIPS which mandates that no country is obliged to protect Geographical Indications unless it is demonstrated that such Geographical Indications enjoy home protection in their countries of origin.

Based on feedback received from the World Wide Watch agency CompuMark which was appointed in 1988 to monitor conflicting marks globally and in the last couple of years, several instances of misuse and attempted registrations have been found and challenged by the Tea Board by way of oppositions/invalidation/cancellation actions (22), legal notices (8), court actions (2) and domain name cancellations (2) against third party misuse of Darjeeling. These actions covered countries like Bahrain, Belarus, Bangladesh, Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Norway, Oman, Russia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, UK and USA.  In some countries like France, Germany, USA more than one action is pending. In India, over 20 legal notices have been served and 15 oppositions have been filed.
 
       

 

  The Steps Forward :  
 

The next phase in the protection of Darjeeling tea involves monitoring the movement of green leaf and the extension of the certification system to overseas markets, which are currently self declaratory.

An online system is intended for the purpose in order to encourage ease of use and minimize paper work.

There is no doubt that it would be in the best interests of industry to export a value added product. The economies however require to make sense both in terms of value addition as well as import duty rates for packet tea vis a vis bulk.

The Tea Board has been partnering with tea importing communities like Germany and the United Kingdom in this venture.

These measures, though slow moving in a lot of cases, have had a cumulative effect. Today, worldwide, there is an increasing awareness of the name Darjeeling as a protected entity.

Member countries of he WTO are operating in an environment where the multilateral Registry under the WTO is yet to take shape and GIs other than wines and spirits are seeking additional protection under Article 23 of Trips.  The issue of registration in different jurisdictions and seeking redressal according to the legal requirements of each country remains a challenge that Tea Board has had to face.

In the meantime to promote Darjeeling tea and consolidate its equity alongwith increasing consumer awareness about Darjeeling as a Geographical Indication, the Tea Board is holding festivals in various export markets and running Darjeeling tea promotions together with retail chains and speciality restaurants. Public relations and educational communication materials are spreading the awareness of Darjeeling Tea worldwide as well as in India.

 
     
       
    List of Registrations for DARJEELING word and logo marks as on 31st Dec 2008 :  

 

No

Country

Nature and subject matter of registration

Application / Registration No.

Date of Application

Date of Registration

Validity

1.

Australia

Certification Mark for DARJEELING logo

998593

20.04.2004

17.11.2005

20.04.2014

2.

Australia

Certification Mark for DARJEELING word

998592

       20.04.2004

02.10.2007

20.04.2014

3.

Benelux Registration – Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg

Collective Mark for DARJEELING Logo

444511

11.03.1988

­11.03.1988

11.03.2018

4.

Canada

Official Mark for DARJEELING logo

0903697

15.03.1989

15.03.1989

Valid until voluntarily abandoned or expunged pursuant to a court order.

5.

EU member countries

Community Collective Mark for DARJEELING word

004325718

07.03.2005

31.03.2006

07.03.2015

6.

Egypt

Trademark for DARJEELING Logo

103072

29.09.1996

08.04.1999

28.09.2016

7.

International Registration –Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland and former Yugoslavia.

Collective Mark for DARJEELING logo

528696

09.09.1988

 

­-

09.09.2018


8.

India

Copyright registration for DARJEELING logo

A-67292/2004

08.08.2003

11.05.2004

Valid Registration

9.

India

Certification Mark for    DARJEELING logo

532240

09.10.1986

09.10.1986

09.10 2017

10.

India

Certification Mark for    DARJEELING word.

831599

10.12.1998

10.12.1998

10.12.2015

11.

India

DARJEELING word as a geographical indication

1

27.10.2003

27.10.2003

27.10.2013

12.

India

DARJEELING logo as a geographical indication

2

27.10.2003

27.10.2003

27.10.2013

13.

Japan

Trade Mark for DARJEELING logo

2153713

08.07.1986

31.07.1989

31.07.2009

14.

Lebanon

Collective mark for DARJEELING word

102594

13.06.2005

13.06.2005

13.06.2020


15.

Lebanon

Collective mark for DARJEELING Logo

102595

13.06.2005

13.06.2005

13.06.2020


16.

Russia

Trademark for DARJEELING
Word

249970

20.04.1999

27.06.2003

20.04.2009

17.

Russia

Trademark for DARJEELING Logo

300276

02.11.1999

16.01.2006

02.11.2009

18.

Russia

Trademark for Darjeeling Logo

289609 & 169877

15.07.1997

25.05.2005

15.07.2017

19.

Taiwan

Certification mark for Darjeeling  word

01327971

25.07.2007

01.09.2008

31.08.2018

20.

Taiwan

Certification mark for Darjeeling Logo

01327972

25.07.2007

01.09.2008

31.08.2018

21.

U.S.A.

Certification Mark for DARJEELING logo

1632726

01.07.1988

22.01.1991

22.01.2011

22.

U.S.A.

Certification Trade Mark for DARJEELING word.

2685923

10.01.2002

11.02.2003

01.10.2012

23.

U.K.

Certification Mark for the DARJEELING logo

1307518

16.04.1987

11.10.1996

16.04.2018

24.

U.K.

Certification Mark for DARJEELING word.

2162741

30.03.1998

03.08.2001

30.03.2018

 
     
       
    List of Applications for DARJEELING word and logo marks :  

 

No

Country

Nature and subject matter of registration

Application No.

Status

1.

Germany

Collective mark for DARJEELING word

­ 30456356
­­

Under examination

2.

Japan

Regional Collective mark for DARJEELING word

No. 2007-103568

Under examination

3.

EU

PGI for DARJEELING word under Regulation 510/06

028913

Pending Examination

 
     
       

 

  Register for use of Darjeeling :  
 

All those who deal in Darjeeling Tea need to register with the Tea Board. The procedure varies according to where the company is based. Separate self explanatory capsules may be downloaded depending on the jurisdiction.

 
 
 
  | India | Canada | Japan | Australia | USA – United States of America | UK – United Kingdom |
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