TEA WATCH: Tea fights linger in patent row – no wonder Bengal won’t release its clutches on Darjeeling ?!!
FROM HINDUSTAN TIMES
BY ZIA HAQ
New Delhi, June 19, 2010, 23:36 IST: India continues to fight off attempts by entities around the world from staking claim to Darjeeling tea — the world’s most expensive variety.
Kolkata-based Tea Board, a statutory body, recently blocked a French perfume company, one US tea firm and two German companies from illegally naming their products “Darjeeling”.
However, getting a French women’s wear company to withdraw its global lingerie line, “Darjeeling”, is proving to be difficult.
The European Union is likely to bring Darjeeling tea under “rule 510” in October, bolstering India’s efforts to shield it from being misused, Tea Board chairman Basudeb Banerjee told HT.
“So far, we have successfully resolved other cases but suffered setbacks in the lingerie case. But we will fight it out,” Banerjee said.
The Tea Board chief said when EU’s “rule 510” comes into force in respect of Darjeeling tea in October, India would no longer be required to pursue patent violations in individual countries. “This will save expensive litigation in multiple countries,” he said.
Currently, India is fighting patent violations in 15 countries.
French group “Delta and Groupe Chantelle” has been using the trademark Darjeeling for its lingerie line and shops since 1995. It has over 50 stores worldwide.
Darjeeling logo and brand trademark can apply to tea grown in only 87 designated gardens and processed in select factories of these gardens, according to patent rules and geographical indication (GI) registration.
Under international law, GIs refer to a distinct territory of a product’s origin, such as France’s Cognac and Champagne.
A French company recently rolled back its brand, “Grand Vert The Darjeeling”, after the Tea Board moved French authorities.
Each year, Darjeeling in West Bengal produces about 12,000 kgs of fabled tea in four “flushes” or harvests in 87 select gardens. The tea has a renowned, distinct flavour.