Investing in Intellectual Rights to safeguard heritage
KOHIMA, MARCH 30
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]o impart awareness on preservation and protection of the rich traditional knowledge systems and cultural heritage of Nagaland, the Patent Information Centre of the Nagaland Science & Technology Council (NASTEC) on Monday organized a seminar about Intellectual Property Rights in the Zonal Council Hall in Kohima town.
A host of people from diverse backgrounds including those from different government departments and cultural societies, public and student leaders, former bureaucrats, law students, research scholars, artists etc. attended the one-day seminar. Delhi-based expert in the field of intellectual rights and patent attorney, Dr. Chitra Arvind, who was the resource person at the seminar illustrated the importance of preserving traditional knowledge and how Geographical Indications (GI) can protect them.She explained that Geographical Indications identify products as originating or manufactured from a particular region or locality of the country where a given quality, reputation, or other characteristics of the product(s) is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.
She said Geographical Indications empower the first-producer of the goods and prevent other people from making imitation products, and they enable a local populace to benefit out of their produce while ensuring legal protection and prevent unauthorized use. “This (Geographical Indications) helps us in protecting others from exploiting our traditional products,” she stated.
Pointing out that Nagaland has rich traditional knowledge and heritage that are untapped, Dr. Chitra appraised the gathering of the benefits, opportunities and challenges of applying GI for preserving them, making a special reference to the traditional Naga shawls.
She is of the view that having a registration for GI is necessary to protect one’s product(s) and delaying to file a geographical protection will lead to the product(s) becoming generic. She said GI can protect the different tribal shawls and their various aspects such as the way they are woven, the dyes used, or the significance and meaning of each individual motif and design on the shawls.
While talking about the legislature aspect of GI, she said India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), has enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 and there are several articles that provides for protection of production, processing, manufacturing and trading under Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
Citing more examples, she asserted that GI can also be filed for the Naga indigenous drink brewed with rice paddy. Here, traditional knowledge includes (but not limited to) knowledge and practices either codified in writing or transmitted orally, traditional medicines, folklore, songs, dances, rituals, designs, handicraft among others, she said.
The resource person went on to explain that GIs can be filed by any association of persons, producers, organizations or authority established by or under the law. She stated that GI registry can be applied with the intellectual property authority in Chennai, however, she recommended going through the registration process with a lawyer as there are many paper works involved.
NASTEC’s member-secretary, Dr. Zavei Hiese, in his address said the state is in dire need of more awareness on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Besides patenting scientific knowledge, he said national and traditional knowledge have to be patented and protected for preservation, under different forms of IPR including patents and GI. He expressed hope that law students in Nagaland would consider and take up this aspect while pursuing their studies. After two consecutive technical sessions, a delegation from among the participants and NASTEC officials with the resource person departed to Pfütsero under Phek district for field visit.