The Geographical Indications Registry in Chennai has accorded geographical status to a record 11 new products in just a month. A geographical indication (GI) tag is a name or sign used on certain products which mirror a specific geographical location or origin. The use of a GI tag may act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin, thus enhancing its marketability. The 11 items granted GI status are champagne from France, Napa Valley Wine from the US, Central Travancore Jaggery, Wayanad Gandhakasala Rice and Jeerakasala Rice from Kerala, Champa Silk Saree and Fabrics from Chhattisgarh, Kota Doria (Logo) Handicraft from Rajasthan, Nashik Grapes from Maharashtra, Surat Zari Craft from Gujarat, Cheriyal Painting and Pembarthi Metal Craft from Andhra Pradesh. There’s a surge in applications at the GI office at Guindy in Chennai from people seeking a GI tag for their products. A record 45 registrations were received in 2008-2009. 31 in 2007-08 and 24 in 2005-2006. This year so far, 37 products got the GI status. Tamil Nadu has around 20 GI tags. “With GI certification, products stand apart and can be distinguished from fakes,” says GK Muthukumaar, partner of GMS Law Associates which has handled the most number of GI Registrations in the country. “Communities involved in growing or manufacturing such products are now aware that the protection given by law can help them fetch a premium price for these items’’ he said. Champagne, one of the products granted GI status this month, is claimed exclusively by the region bearing the same name in the north eastern region of France. No other wine, even if it is made from the same grape variety or manufactured by the same method and is identical in taste, aroma and other qualities, can be called ‘Champagne.’ In India, geographical indications are protected and governed by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. Under the Act, an application can be made for registering a geographical indication by an association of persons or producers or any organization or authority representing the interests of the producers of the goods concerned under Section 11 of the Act.