Chair Of Stalled WTO Talks On GIs May Take Another Tack

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World Trade Organization negotiations to establish a multilateral register of geographical indications continue to be stalled over whether talks should apply only to wines and spirits as mandated, or can extend to other products and include talks on disclosure of origin in genetic material, the negotiations chair reported to the WTO Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) today. He suggested a slightly different approach in the coming year.

Another longstanding sticking point is a demand to also negotiate an amendment to WTO IP rules to include a disclosure of origin of biological material in patent applications

The oral statement of the chair of the WTO negotiations, Amb. Yonov Frederick Agah of Nigeria, was read out to the TNC, which is chaired by WTO Director General Pascal Lamy and oversees all negotiations in the Doha Round.

Agah said he plans to try to hold discussions on technical issues in early 2013, according to a WTO official. The aim is to broaden the “factual basis” for the negotiations and allow members to put off the more difficult “strategic” decisions about the subject of the talks and their links with other subjects.

Most delegations have indicated a willingness to “unbundle” the three topics temporarily so that technical work on the register for wines and spirits move forward, Agah said, according to the WTO official. The links with other subjects would be discussed later. But there is no agreement on whether the single draft text from 2011 on which the talks are based could be focussed only on the GI register, or must continue to include the other issues.

Geographical indications are protected under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), with wines and spirits receiving a higher level of protection than other types of GIs.

By contrast, the issue of GI protection moved forward this week at the World Intellectual Property Organization (IPW, WIPO, 7 December 2012).

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