Two law firms shortlisted to fight for Pakistan’s Basmati

Published November 1, 2020
Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to pick one of the international law firms short-listed for fighting Pakistan’s case in the European Union to protect the country’s long-grain aromatic Basmati rice after India applied for ‘an exclusive’ GI (Geographical Indications) tag for the brand name. — Reuters/File
Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to pick one of the international law firms short-listed for fighting Pakistan’s case in the European Union to protect the country’s long-grain aromatic Basmati rice after India applied for ‘an exclusive’ GI (Geographical Indications) tag for the brand name. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to pick one of the international law firms short-listed for fighting Pakistan’s case in the European Union to protect the country’s long-grain aromatic Basmati rice after India applied for ‘an exclusive’ GI (Geographical Indications) tag for the brand name.

Both Pakistan and India had earlier in the late 1990s and the early 2000s jointly won the legal battle against an attempt of Texas-based company, RiceTec, to patent Basmati rice in the United States. After losing the battle, the company named its rice brand as Texmati.

PM likely to pick one of the two Brussels-based firms as deadline to challenge Indian claim over rice brand draws near

An informed source at the commerce ministry confided to Dawn that Pakistan had short-listed two Brussels-based international law firms, namely Messrs Altius international law firm and Messrs Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick to fight the Basmati battle, and the premier would pick one of the two.

The commerce secretary had recently briefed senior government officials that India had applied for ‘an exclusive GI (Geographical Indications) tag for Basmati rice under the Regulation (EU) No. 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and the European Union’s official registry, the Council on Quality Schemes for Agricultural Products and Food Stuffs.

A GI tag is a sign used on agricultural products that have specific geographical origin and possess qualities or reputation that are due to that origin and are part of the intellectual property rights. GI tag helps boost sales and exports as the geographical limitation on production and official recognition of historical and cultural significance.

Currently, India and Pakistan have 65 and 35 per cent shares of Basmati in the world rice trade, respectively. Basmati rice fetches Pakistan around $800 million to $1 billion annually.

The source explained that the relevant rules confer the right to oppose the Indian application pursuant to Article 51 of the Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 by Dec10, 2020.

The notice of opposition should contain a declaration that the application might infringe the conditions laid down in the regulation after which the commission will forward the notice of opposition to the relevant authority or body without delay. If the notice of opposition is lodged with the commission and is followed within two months by a reasoned statement of opposition, the commission will check the admissibility of this reasoned statement of opposition.

Within two months after the receipt of a reasoned statement of opposition, the commission will invite the authority or person that lodged the opposition and the authority or body that lodged the application to engage in appropriate consultations for a reasonable period that will not exceed three months.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2020

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