When we think of Khadi, our minds automatically connect to Mahatma Gandhi spinning the ‘charkha’. Khadi for us Indians is not just a fabric but a symbol. A symbol of culture, self-reliance and freedom. So of course, when others try to trademark the term, we tend to get a bit emotional about it.
“khadi” as a term enjoys various levels of IP protection in India. For this, an act – ‘Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) Act’ was legislated in the year 1956. This authorized the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (an autonomous body under the Ministry of MSME) to control, regulate, and authorize the use of the term ‘Khadi’ for various products registered in different classes. This implies that any brand or company cannot use the term ‘Khadi’ for its products until unless authorized by KVIC. They are proactive in taking action against unauthorized usage of ‘khadi’ both nationally and internationally
KVIC may have failed in its endeavors to get the Khadi trademark filed by a German company in EU, but they have gone on to file an application for registration in WIPO and EUIPO which are pending before the office. The motive behind this being to protect the khadi brand name world over and not letting it dilute. But this is tricky as many brands promote ‘khadi’ just as a ‘brand name’ for various goods like shampoos, clothing, etc and not just the indigenous textile.
But as KVIC expands its business to other nations, it is also trying to stay ahead by filing for trademark registration in each one beforehand. KVIC recently had its brand recognised by local authorities in the UAE and is also in the process of attempting to register its brand in Nepal, Japan, Myanmar, and Brazil. KVIC is facing certain issues in Mexico, as there is a trademark application by another brand by the same name. But due to the objection raised by KVIC, they have not yet been granted the trademark.
The chairman of the KVIC, Vinai Kumar Saxena has been quoted saying – “In view of Khadi’s ever-growing popularity in India and globally, it has become very important for KVIC to protect the brand. For the first time in the last five years, KVIC has made aggressive bids to safeguard Khadi from any misuse. These efforts have yielded significant results and helped Khadi’s sales grow by a big margin in last few years. Khadi’s trademark registrations are essentially to prevent khadi from duplication and safeguard the interest of our artisans.”
Too little too late? Or too competitive a market space where IP can be exploited easily? Only time will tell how much success KVIC gets in its pursuit to safeguard this piece of our history.
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