Value of Songket Pandai Sikek as a Geographical Indication

Apr 23, 2024

Originating from the island of Sumatra, songket is a cloth that boasts a rich heritage with a distinctive craftsmanship. Belonging to the brocade family of textiles, songket is traditionally handcrafted in silk or cotton using intricate patterns made with gold and silver threads, lending it a lustrous sheen. Historically, songket can be traced back to the Srivijaya Empire in the 7th Century CE. Many renowned variations of songket hail from regions across Indonesia. Today, areas across Sumatra, including Pandai Sikek, Silungkang, Koto Gadang, and Padang in West Sumatra, continue to excel as prime producers of this revered textile. Notably, efforts are underway in Pandai Sikek to secure Geographical Indication[1] status for their distinct variant of songket, hoping to gain recognition of its unique identity and craftsmanship.

The first step to secure Geographical Indication status in Indonesia is to apply for protection under the Law on Trademarks and Geographical Indications. A variety of different goods, from food to tobacco, have been registered as Geographical Indications in Indonesia. The registration affords the product protection in its association with a geographical source and unique characteristics. In addition, it provides consumer protection from misuse of geographical indications to deceive consumers. Once a Geographical Indication is secured and applied to a product, it can provide confidence to consumers of the authentic characteristics of the product.

Applicants for Geographical Indications must take note of unique requirements that are distinct from those of trademarks. For example, an applicant cannot be an individual. An application for Geographical Indication can only be filed by:

  • An institution representing the community in a particular geographic area that produces product in the form of natural resources; handicraft items; industrial results; or

  • Provincial government or regency (kabupaten) and city (kota) government.

Once secured, the registrant of the Geographical Indication has the right to take action and enforce against any party who commits unlawful piracy of the goods.

In the region of Pandai Sikek, one of the renowned regions in producing their own distinct songket, the local communities have decided to reinforce the protection of their cultural heritage products through registering their songket as a Geographical Indication. Through the effort of both the local community and regional governmental bodies, they have created a group named “Society for Geographical Indication of Songket Pandai Sikek” to secure a registration of Geographical Indication of songket from the Pandai Sikek region. The application was submitted on October 4, 2021 and has received application number E-IG.03.2021.000010. It is currently in the announcement stage in the Official Gazette of Geographical Indications for the period from February 15 to April 15, 2024.

What makes songket from Pandai Sikek distinct, is the three types of motifs that must be present and characterize the Pandai Sikek songket, which are Batang Pinang (areca nut tree) motif, Bijo Bayam (spinach seeds) motif, and Saluak Laka motif. If a piece of songket woven fabric does not have any of the three motifs, it is not considered the work of Pandai Sikek artisans. With the acquisition of the Geographical Indications registration, the locals are hoping of not only providing better protection to the distinctiveness of their songket but also receiving national recognition and, eventually, international recognition for their distinctive songket from Pandai Sikek. (RIE/BDP-su)

[1] A Geographical Indication shall mean a sign which indicates the place of origin of goods, which due to its geographical environment factors including natural factors, human factors, or their combination, give specific characteristics and qualities on the goods produced therein.


K&K Advocates