WTO Special Session On GI Register Meets This Week

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The World Trade Organization group discussing the mandated establishment of a multilateral register for wines and spirits geographical indications will meet this week to elect a new chair.

The special session of the WTO Council on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) will be held on 23 March. The main agenda item is the election of a chairperson, expected to be Yonov Frederick Agah, the Nigerian ambassador to the WTO.

Under the 1994 TRIPS Agreement, wines and spirits GIs receive a higher level of protection than other GI products. GIs are products with particular characteristics whose names typically derive from a specific region, like Champagne.

WTO members at the 2001 ministerial in Doha, Qatar, which started the Doha Round of trade negotiations, agreed to create the register. But differences have slowed agreement, with concerns from non-GI-holding nations about legal obligations the register will create, among other issues. The topic is handled under a special session of the TRIPS Council, under direct responsibility of the WTO director general. It is linked to the larger Doha Round negotiations, which are stalled.

Intellectual Property Watch stories on the GI register are here.

WTO background on the issue is here.

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