Rice wars: the dispute over Basmati GI


NV Saisunder and Vishaka Sivakumar

Rice wars: the dispute over Basmati GI

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As Pakistan plans to challenge India’s claim for a geographical indication for Basmati rice in the EU, NV Saisunder and Vishaka Sivakumar of Eshwars explore the background and implications of the latest source of conflict between the two countries.

A geographical indication (GI) as a special IP right is granted to protect the unique qualities of a product that are specific to its geographical origin. Considering the commercial role and competitive advantage of GI tags, there are often disputes between two geographies, be it states or countries, and India and Pakistan are no exception. In the past, political tensions between India and Pakistan have spilled over in trade disputes, including an IP dispute on the Basmati GI tag.

Basmati, the long grain aromatic rice, is produced in India and Pakistan. After failing to jointly register a GI tag for Basmati rice, India and Pakistan decided to make registrations individually within the GI laws of their own countries before broaching the international market. In November 2008, India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Product Export Development Authority (APEDA) filed an application before India’s GI registry, claiming exclusivity of the GI tag for Basmati rice produced in seven states, namely Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.

A common heritage

India, Pakistan, geographical indication, EU, Basmati, Eshwars, APEDA, EU, European Commission