Banglar Rasogolla: a sweet (Geographical) Indication

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Geographical Indication (GI), as a form of intellectual property, has witnessed renewed interest due to the famous Indian sweet known commonly as “Rasgulla”. Until recently, GIs were in the shadow of their wider-known Intellectual Property family that comprises patents, industrial designs, trademarks and copyright.

GIs are a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. The GI tag assures the customer of the quality and uniqueness of the product due to its place of origin.

Coming to the GI grant for “Banglar Rasogolla”, the applicant is the West Bengal State Food Processing and Horticulture Development Corporation Limited (WBSFP & HDCL).

The examination report for the GI application raised several objections against the grant of the GI tag. The examiner submitted that the government may not be the applicant. Further, the examiner requested reports of the physiochemical and microbiological parameters of the product, along with its texture, viscosity and brix content in the syrup.  Further, the report suggested that the Association of Producers should be the applicant, with the West Bengal State Council of Science & Technology acting as a facilitator. The examination report asked for a logo of the GI product for better identification and protection of GI rights. The examination report also requested for the demarcation of the area of production of the product which indicates a map of the territory, region or locality wherein the product is manufactured.

The Applicant, WBSFP & HDCL, submitted a response for the examination report wherein it stated that it is an autonomous body registered in 1986 under the Registrar of Companies. It also stated that its main objective is to help in promoting the development of Food Processing Industries in West Bengal through support to entrepreneurs and artisans.

The Applicant also responded that it felt that the Association of Producers group is not capable of handling critical issues of GI registration and implementation. Hence, it chose to remain as the GI applicant, along with authorizing the Patent Information Centre of West Bengal State Council of Science & Technology for the filing and prosecution of the GI application for “Banglar Rasogolla”.

The Applicant collected samples from three shops in West Bengal and provided them to examining bodies for analysis. The Applicant submitted analysis reports that described the physiochemical and microbiological parameters of the “Banglar Rasogolla” that were provided by the West Bengal Public Health Laboratory, Kolkata. The Applicant also attached analysis reports of the texture and brix content (sugar content) of the sugar syrup, which was examined by the West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Science, Kolkata. According to the reports, no starch was found to be added to the chhana (curdled milk) as an adulterant, thus ensuring the unique quality of Banglar Rasogolla. Further, the sucrose content of the sugar syrup was found to be within the range of 34-45% by weight. The “Banglar Rasogolla” was also found to be softer, with a soft texture and better chewiness when compared to Rasogollas originating from other states.

The Applicant submitted the logo and geographical origin of the “Banglar Rasogolla”. The Applicant also submitted that nearly one lakh shop keepers manufacture a total of close to two crore (twenty million) “Banglar Rasogolla” per day.

Subsequently, after submitting the response to the examination report, the GI for “Banglar Rasogolla” was granted to the WBSFP & HDCL on November 17th, 2017. News reports has cited a “feud” between two states over the GI for Rasogolla. However, it is to be noted that West Bengal received a GI only for “Banglar Rasogolla”, namely, Rasogolla from Bengal. Hence, other variations of Rasogolla originating from other states may still get a GI tag based on their product.

I hope you found our article informative.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License

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