05 March, 2008

GI branding for Indian tea: A lesson for Kenya?

News Spot of India reports that India will embark on a campaign to promote its tea globally based on the product's place of cultivation such as Darjeeling, Assam and Nilgiri. The chairman of the Indian Tea Board believes that indicating the source and quality on the tea packet is critical for their tea industry.

In the 1983 India created a logo for the Darjeeling tea, which was then protected in many countries either as an ordinary Trade mark, a Certification trade mark or a collective trade mark. For example the logo is protected in a number of countries as a Certification trade mark through the Madrid system.

Is there a lesson here for the Tea Board of Kenya , KTDA and their counterpart the Coffee Board given the reputation Kenyan tea and coffee enjoy? Whereas China and India are major producers of tea in terms of quantity, Kenyan tea is known for its quality and is primarily used for blending tea from other countries.

By registering the word Darjeeling as a Trade mark or Geographical Indication in many countries, the Indian Tea Board is able to control sale of tea labeled with the Darjeeling mark. Dealers in Darjeeling tea are required to enter a licensing agreement with the Tea Board of India and pay an annual license fee. For the dealers to label their tea “Darjeeling” the agreement prohibits blending whatsoever with any other teas, the tea has to be 100% authentic Darjeeling tea. The agreement however does not prohibit blending so long as the word Darjeeling is not used. More information is available here.

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