The country’s cinnamon industry stakeholders yesterday hailed the Cabinet’s decision to amend the Intellectual Property Act of 2003 to enable ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’ to obtain Geographical Indications (GI) locally, and be included in a GI register.
This measure will pave the way for certification of cinnamon products originating in Sri Lanka with regard to GI which is a necessary step for international registration of ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’ to benefit from GI which is the highest level of protection.
The industry is now hopeful that the draft bill in this regard will be approved by Parliament, and a local GI register will thereafter be established by the National Intellectual Property Office (NIPO) to enable Ceylon Cinnamon to be registered in the local GI register.
The cinnamon industry has been lobbying for a long time to register ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’ for Geographical Indications (GI) in the European Union and other major consumer markets. The delay in this process was due to a lack of protection in relation to intellectual property registration locally, and the lack of a local register for GI. The Export Development Board (EDB) has been authorized by the government to be the holder and protector of the ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’ certification mark and Geographical Indications, on behalf of the People of Sri Lanka. The Industry now hopes that the EDB will immediately take the necessary steps to register Ceylon Cinnamon in terms of GI.
Obtaining GI internationally depends on the proper protection of quality, and traceability of cinnamon products originating in Sri Lanka. In this regard, it is necessary that EDB implements proper controls over the quality and traceability in the production processes of cinnamon to ensure GI for ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’ internationally.
The ground work hitherto carried out by The Spice Council, the Ceylon Cinnamon Association and the Cinnamon Training Academy as well as state organizations has gained much publicity commanding an increase in the prices for Ceylon Cinnamon.
Sarada de Silva, Founder President of The Spice Council (TSC) and President of the National Chamber of Exporter of Sri Lanka (NCE) has worked tirelessly from the private sector towards this end.
He has, through the NCE, presented budget proposal for 2017 Budget. All these proposals are private and public sector partnerships to meet the current demand and necessity of the cinnamon industry.
They are, the establishment of 250 good manufacturing production centres (GMP), establishment of bought (Green) tree factories, second stage of Cinnamon Training Academy at Kosgoda, research and mechanisation of cinnamon processing, skills development in the cinnamon industry, GI for Ceylon Cinnamon, acceding to Madrid & Lisbon agreements and establishment of Cinnamon Development Authority.
Unfortunately all the good work done by the state sector and the private sector is negated by a few unscrupulous exporters resorting to the export of poor quality cinnamon, resulting in the rejection and return of many containers by International buyers.
This has been compounded by the importation into Sri Lanka of cinnamon from Madagascar for the purpose of re-export as ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’ thereby destroying the name an image of ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’.
In this context, since the EDB has the right of ownership of the ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’ mark should take necessary action not only to own the mark but also to defend the mark from such irregular practices including the adulteration and imitation of ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’ by Cassia, which is a cheaper substitute.