Darjeeling gets GI protection in Europe
The application from India to register ‘Darjeeling’ as a protected geographical indication has been allowed by the European Union, vide Regulation EU No. 1050/2011.
The European Union found that the product is specific and further found that the savoir-faire as well as the pedo-climatic features and geographical environment of the specified geographical area significantly affect the product’s characteristics and hence, its reputation. To avoid consumers being misled, the regulation holds that the designation ‘Darjeeling’ should only be given to tea being produced solely in the geographical area and does not allow blends of ‘Darjeeling’ tea with other teas to be labeled and sold using the ‘Darjeeling’ designation.
Registration was opposed by several European countries as well as by a citizen of India. However, a settlement was reached between India and European countries and accordingly, the regulation requires that the planting, harvesting and processing of the tea (drying, sorting, grading and bulk packaging) take place exclusively in the identified geographical area. Effectively, therefore, the designation can be used even if ultimate consumer/ retail packaging of such tea takes place outside the said geographical area.
It was pointed out by the objectors that the name ‘Darjeeling’ had been used to designate certain products which were not in conformity with the specification, but which were comparable to such products. This jeopardized the existence of the name ‘Darjeeling’. Accordingly, existing producers of such products (so long as they have marketed such products for at least five years prior to October 14, 2009) have been granted a transitional period of 5 years to use the term.