How a temple prevailed in the battle over a geographical indication for its famous confection, Tirupati laddus. Rebecca Abraham reports
In February, a four-page order by a single judge of Madras High Court provided closure in a little known, albeit significant, dispute between a trust that manages one of India’s most visited temples, at Tirupati in the Tirumala hills of Andhra Pradesh, and a restaurant in Chennai, Ganga Sweets.
The dispute centred on the intellectual property rights for an item of food that India had awarded geographical indication (GI) status in September 2009: a ball-shaped sweet, a laddu, that is available only at the temple in Tirupati and so is called a Tirupati laddu. Around 125,000 of these laddus are produced every day within the temple compound as an offering to the temple deities and distributed – some at no cost – to the people who worship there. Ganga Sweets had been making and selling a version of these laddus that it labelled Tirupati Type laddu.