The IP legal fight for Basmati rice among multiple countries

The IP legal fight for Basmati rice among multiple countries, The IP legal fight for Basmati rice, The IP fight over the Basmati Rice, legal fight for Basmati rice, Basmati rice, the Basmati rice

The IP legal fight for Basmati rice among multiple countries

Basmati rice is one of the best rice in the world, arguably. This rice has been around for over 200 years, maybe even more, but up until this moment, the conflict surrounding the legal ownership of this type of rice is still not settled. 

Basmati Rice

Basmati Rice is long-grain rice commonly grown in India and Pakistan, when cooked it is fragrant and soft.

As a special type of rice found in the Indian subcontinent many centuries ago, they are used and tested by many countries, but the results are not as expected. Since then only certain places in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka can grow this rice with the best quality.

It is said that the name “basmati” is of Sanskrit origin, but according to the Oxford dictionary, it is from Hindi. However, regardless of its origin, “basmati” still means “fragrance”, true to the characteristics of the named rice.

In addition to the name basmati, this rice is also known by other names such as Bans-Matti, Bansumutti, Bansmatti, Bansumutte, Basmatte.

The IP fight over the Basmati Rice

Although this rice has been around for centuries, it is not until the recent decades did the fight over the ownership of the rice was known throughout the world. 

Specifically, there are a lot of countries or organizations that claim ownership of this type of rice but the 2 main contenders are India and Pakistan. 

Because of the blurred history and overlapping geographical characteristics, we can’t know for sure who is the first grower or gatherer of this rice. In addition, although India is the largest exporter of Basmati rice, the fact that both these countries can grow and sell it makes the determination of ownership even harder.

Recently, India’s latest effort to claim ownership and at the same time, hinder the progress of Pakistan, is to apply for a geographical indication (GI) right for basmati rice in the European Union.

On September 11, 2020, the application was published publicly, opening up for opposition from other parties.

Furthermore, India outdid Pakistan again with its application for trademark registration in Sri Lanka.

If Pakistan and other countries or organizations don’t want India to claim GI rights or trademark rights for basmati rice, they would prepare their oppositions thoroughly.

On the other hand, not just the fight for the origin of the Basmati rice, but India and Pakistan have encountered and will likely face obstacles from other companies who claimed that they have developed a novel strain by inter-breeding the basmati rice with another crop and creating a better type of rice, for example, the American basmati or Texmati.

Expert opinions

Rahul Govind, a partner at illuminIP in New Delhi, has discussed the recent attempts at securing the rights for the Basmati rice of India: “I will say India is very late in filing the trademark application. This should have been done a long time ago. India cannot take responsibility for the IP rights of other countries but it can safeguard their rights by exclusively claiming the rights so that companies like RiceTec do not infringe the exclusive rights vested in the aromatic rice or any other IP vested in any product which originates in India.”

On the other hand, former vice-president Taufiq Ahmed Khan of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan said that India’s recent move is an attempt to damage Pakistan.

Sharing the same view with Taufiq Ahmeh Khan, Hasan Irfan Khan, attorney at law at United Trademark & Patent Services in Lahore stated: “We agree with Taufiq Ahmed Khan that this move by India is an intentional act to damage Pakistan which also exports basmati rice to Sri Lanka. This is because India is well aware that basmati is a GI of Pakistan, or at least both countries claim joint ownership. Therefore, still claiming exclusive ownership through registration is clearly an act to damage Pakistani exports of basmati.”

***Other Articles***

– You could see Procedure of Trademark in India here.

– You could visit here to see Required documents of filing trademark in India.

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