Work Plan For WTO Negotiations Includes Potentially Critical IP Issues06/10/2009 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now.The new work plan for negotiations for the coming months at the World Trade Organization includes intellectual property issues that some members say are critical to any outcome in the current round of trade negotiations. WTO Director General Pascal Lamy will hold an informal meeting with members on 8 October to discuss the status of two proposed amendments to the WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement. One would require disclosure of the origin of genetic resources in patent applications and the other would extend the high-level protection currently enjoyed by geographical indications (GIs) on wines and spirits to other goods.These issues are separate from mandated negotiations in the round to develop a multilateral register for wines and spirits GIs. Geographical indications are products named after locations or with specific characteristics of a region. GIs are protected under TRIPS Articles 22 and 23. GI extension proponents say current protection is not adequately protecting their GIs, and that opponent countries could make changes to their trademark laws and benefit from GI protection as well.On the GI register, special sessions Chair Trevor Clarke, the Barbados ambassador, will mix smaller group consultations with meetings of the full membership to try to identify areas of agreement or possible compromise, according to sources who added that he might produce an unofficial paper to give to his successor in December.Clarke expects consultations during weeklong meetings of senior officials from capitals from 19-23 October, 23-27 November and 14-16 December. The next formal meeting with Clarke will be on October 23, just prior to the next meeting of the WTO TRIPS Council on 27-28 October. Clarke also has scheduled a formal meeting on 25 November.In 2008, supporters of the biodiversity protection and GI extension proposals jointly demanded the issues be negotiated in this round (though not necessarily supporting each others’ proposals). They total 108 countries, according to proponents, a majority of the WTO’s 153 members, and they are still waiting for approval. A minority group of countries including Australia, Canada and the United States have blocked both proposals on the grounds that they lack a negotiating mandate.European GI producers are encouraging lobbying of resistant governments by domestic industries, such as the Kona coffee producers in Hawaii, who recently passed a resolution backing a declaration on the importance of GIs. The declaration was agreed at a June meeting of the private-sector Organisation for an International Geographical Indications Network (oriGIn) meeting in Teruel, Spain.On the GI register, the same opponent countries back an alternative “joint proposal” that would create a voluntary database for the GI register. The GI proponents, by contrast, are seeking a GI register proposal with more legal bearing.At a 2 October informal meeting on the GI register, the work plan through December was explained. The GI register is usually handled through special sessions, chaired by Clarke, who will become assistant director general for copyright issues at the World Intellectual Property Organization on 3 December.The work plan laid out till December supposedly is not linked to the WTO ministerial scheduled for 30 November to 2 December, which will focus on broader economic issues. WTO members have the goal of concluding this negotiating round in 2010.The 2 October meeting addressed four questions from the chair of the GI register process, which indicate the key points under discussion. The questions asked what legal obligations would be acceptable for the register to facilitate GI protection for wines and spirits; what significance should national authorities give to the register; are there any options on participation other than voluntary or mandatory; and what would special and differential treatment (for least-developed countries) look like. Members have come up with another list of questions for 8 October.TRIPS issues are linked by proponents with other areas in the negotiations, such as agriculture to rules. One European official said the “price” for an agreement in agriculture is GI extension.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)RelatedWilliam New may be reached at email@example.com."Work Plan For WTO Negotiations Includes Potentially Critical IP Issues" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.