Sri Lanka readies Ceylon tea intellectual property claim

Dec 28, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is readying a claim for intellectual property protection for different types of Ceylon tea under global ”Geographical Indicators’ rules that would help market the product, a senior official said. Sri Lanka Tea Board chairman Lalith Hettiarachchi said they are seeking recognition for GI indicators for seven tea growing districts in the island.

“It would be a marketing advantage for the industry,” he said. “The final draft of the registration papers is now with the lawyers.”

The Tea Board will then file the claim with the National Intellectual Property Office and expects local registration of the tea growing regions in the first half of 2010, Hettiarachchi said.

That is the first step in seeking GI protection under the World Trade Organisation intellectual property rights rules known as the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

International registration would take more time, Hettiarachchi said.

The industry is keen on getting the GI recognition as it could be used as a marketing tool, like French wines which were among the first products to be registered under the WTO regime. The seven tea growing areas for which GI recognition is sought are Nuwara