AJK govt to bear cost of case in Chennai court
11 January 2007
Muzafarabad: The AJK government will bear the cost of a case in which the geographical indication of Kashmir’s famed Pashmina (Cashmere) and Kani shawls and some other handicrafts in India’s Geographical Indication Registry has been challenged, it has been learnt. The AJK Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AJKCCI) president, Zulfiqar Abbasi, told Dawn that the case had been filed in a court in Chennai by the 'Najmi Waziri Law Firm' on behalf of the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI). The AJKCCI had drawn up a Memorandum of Understanding with the RCCI to challenge the GI registration in India of Kashmiri Pashmina shawls to avoid to a technical problem, he said. “We are going to take the plea that Pashmina and Kani shawls are also woven in AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan and their registration as geographical indications of occupied Kashmir was unfair and will harm our trade interests,” Mr Abbasi said. Geographical indications (GIs) under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPR) are indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin. A registration of geographical indications gives to the registered proprietor and all authorised users whose names have been entered in the register the right to obtain relief in respect of infringement of the geographical indications. However, authorised users alone shall have the exclusive right to the use of the geographical indications in relation to the goods in respect of which the geographical indications are registered. Mr Abbasi said the law firm, engaged on the recommendation of Pakistan's trade minister in New Delhi, would file objections on January 16, two days before the first hearing of the case. Sources told Dawn that a high-level meeting under the aegis of the Ministry of Trade and Commerce was held in this connection in Islamabad recently which was also attended by senior AJK government officials and decision to challenge the GI registration of Pashmina and Kani shawls and other handicrafts by India was taken. AJK government sources said that Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan had approved withdrawal of Rs500,000 as an advance payment to the law firm. Mr Abbasi said the AJKCCI had formally urged the Government of Pakistan to register the GIs of all other goods and handicrafts which were grown or prepared in the country and AJK to avoid any such situation in future. It may be recalled that earlier India had registered Pakistan's super basmati as Indian product in the world market and the move has been challenged by Pakistan in India.