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By FutureLaw Desk

Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (DPDT) is going to register Hilsa (ইলিশ) as the second product after Jamdani saree under geographical identification protection. It is expected that the registration certificate shall be handed over to the Department of Fisheries by next week.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin or place and possess qualities, characteristics or a reputation that are due to that origin. The registration ensures the exclusive right to use the GI product, increase commercial value of the product and prevent unauthorized use of the product by others.

DPDT, a department under the Ministry of Industries is the the sole authority in Bangladesh to register any goods as GI product. The application for GI registration was opened by DPDT in September, 2015 after the enactment of Geographical Indication Goods (registration and protection) Act 2013 along with the GI Rules 2015.

Earlier, the Department of Fisheries applied for registration  of the national fish Hilsha as a geographical indication product on November 13, 2016. After due assessment of the information and documentation regarding Hilsa, DPDT published an article in its own journal as per the provisions of the law. Since no objection was raised by any other country during the waiting period (which expired on July 31, 2017), there is no bar to register Hilsa as the GI product of Bangladesh.

Hilsha will be the second GI product, after Jamdani, one of the finest muslin textiles, of Bangladesh. Currently DPDT has two other GI applications pending before it for Kataribhog rice and Kalijira rice, both of whom are placed by Bangladesh Rice Research Institute. DPDT has sought more information and documentation on the two rice products.

Bangladesh has three kinds of Hilsa. The most famous species is called Tenualosa Hilsha (known as Padma’r Ilish), Chandana Ilish (Meghna’r Ilish) and Gurta Ilish (mostly found in the Bay of Bengal). Hilsa fish is also found in India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Oman and Bahrain. However, Bangladesh catches around 60% of the fish,  some 20% fish are caught in Myanmar, 15% in India and the rest belongs to the other countries.

By registering the Hilsa as GI product, the government will achieve the exclusive right to use the indication to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not conform to the applicable standards. Furthermore, the fishermen are expected to receive 20-25% more price for Hilsa while exporting it abroad, as Bangladesh shall receive financial incentives for the exclusivity of Hilsa in global market.