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    Geographical Indications Catching Up With Appellations of Origin At WIPO

    Published on 7 December 2012 @ 10:38 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    A happy mood was in order at the close of a World Intellectual Property Organization meeting on the protection of product names indicating their origin, particular qualities and reputation. Geographical indications are being considered for the same recognition and protection as appellations of origin through the revision of a current international instrument.

    Meeting Chair Miháli Ficsor, vice-president for legal affairs at the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office, hailed a “huge step forward” after the adoption of the draft summary [pdf] by the chair, with minor amendments to be added later.

    The sixth session of the WIPO Working Group on the Development of the Lisbon System (Lisbon System for the International Registration of Appellations of Origin) met from 3-7 December.

    The working group discussed a possible “new instrument,” which would be an amendment or revision to the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration agreement to include geographical indications (GIs). Also on the agenda was a possible distinct new treaty dedicated only to GIs (IPW, WIPO, 30 November 2012).

    Delegates now “widely” support the idea of “one single Draft New Instrument covering both appellations of origin and GIs, and incorporating separate definitions for each,” according to the chair’s summary.

    Delegations supporting the establishment of a revision also favour a single international register covering both appellations of origin and GIs, the text says. There was wide support for “a single and high level of protection for both appellations of origin and GIs,” according to the summary.

    The mandate of the working group is twofold: the revision of the Lisbon agreement “that would involve a refinement of the current legal framework and the inclusion of the possibility of accession by intergovernmental organizations, while preserving the principles and objectives of the Lisbon Agreement,” and “the establishment of an international registration system for geographical indications.” The 27-member Lisbon system currently includes an International Register of Appellations of Origin.

    GIs are used to indicate that goods have a specific geographical origin from which they derive particular qualities, reputation or characteristics. They apply to wines and other agricultural products, but also other non-agricultural products such as handicrafts. Appellations of origin are a kind of GI with more restrictive conditions for attribution.

    At the start of the week, delegates worked from a draft document [pdf] including three options: the revised Lisbon agreement, a draft protocol on geographical indications supplementing the revised Lisbon agreement, and a draft treaty on geographical indications.

    Also on the table are draft regulations [pdf].

    One of the tasks of the working group was a text-cleaning effort. In particular, Article 10 on the content and the scope of protection accorded by an international registration was one of the most important subjects of the discussions, Ficsor told Intellectual Property Watch.

    A “non-paper” [pdf] – draft text for discussion – on Article 10 was issued by the WIPO secretariat, followed by a non-paper [pdf] on Art. 10 by the European Union.

    Only individual countries can currently be members of the Lisbon system, so the EU is an observer to the working group.

    During the week, the chair produced two successive non-papers on Article 10 and Article 11, which is on the protection of an appellation of origin or a GI against becoming a generic term or name, taking into consideration the suggestions of delegates. The first chair’s non-paper is here [pdf]. The second non-paper by the chair is attached as an annex to the chair’s summary.

    One of the specific concerns of member states, Fiscor said, is how to tackle the relationship between the protection of appellations of origin/GIs and trademark rights. The discussion on this point is still “unfinished business,” he said. In particular the question about prior trademark rights that could serve as grounds to refuse the protection of an appellation of origin or a GI, he said.

    Some countries are using the trademark system to protect geographical indications. The United States, for example, uses certification and collective marks, which are part of the trademark system, to protect their GIs. According to [pdf] the US Patent and Trademark Office, “geographical indications serve the same functions as trademarks, because like trademarks they are: 1) source-identifiers, 2) guarantees of quality, and 3) valuable business interests.”

    Article 10 in the latest chair’s non-paper includes provisions allowing members to refuse or invalidate the registration of a trademark which contains or consists of a registered appellation of origin, under certain conditions. Some countries worry that on the basis of an appellation of origin, an earlier trademark could be invalidated, Fiscor said.

    Another issue, he told Intellectual Property Watch, is whether the content of the protection should follow the current Lisbon agreement or should something new be “invented.” The current non-paper by the Chair strikes a right balance between different considerations, he said.

    Part of the exercise of modifying the Lisbon agreement, and including geographical indications in the international register, was meant to attract a wider membership. Fiscor said that the revised agreement could be attractive to countries that do not have appellations of origin, but only GIs in their legislation, for example. The revised agreement allowing the participation of intergovernmental organisations would permit the European Union and the African Regional Intellectual Organization (ARIPO) to join the system, he said.

    Two further meetings of the working group will be organised in 2013, one before and the other after the annual session of the WIPO General Assembly in autumn, the chair’s summary states.

    Depending on progress made before the Special Union for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration (Lisbon Union) Assembly next autumn, Fiscor said he could not “exclude the possibility” that the Lisbon Union could establish a roadmap for convening a diplomatic conference (high-level negotiation) to revise the Lisbon Agreement. One of the questions would be to decide whether only the Lisbon agreement members could vote or whether the vote would be extended to the whole WIPO membership, he said.

    Amendments to Draft Summary by the Chair

    Toward the end of the meeting, several amendments were made to the chair’s summary, which are not yet reflected in the document.

    According to sources, in paragraph 14, the last part of the first sentence making reference to one delegation favouring a separate draft treaty on GIs has been deleted. In paragraph 15, the word “prevailing” has been added so the sentence reads as: “The Chair also noted the prevailing view of the Working Group…”

    In paragraph 20, the last sentence now reads: “The Secretariat would work along the lines of the guidance provided by the working group at the present session and would make sure that all comments and suggestions be duly reflected in those revised versions.”

    A sentence in paragraph 21 was rephrased to say that “the same substantive provisions would apply to both appellations of origin and geographical indications. Paragraph 23 currently under agenda item 6 (other matters) was moved under agenda item 5 (future work). This paragraph refers to a workshop on dispute settlement within the Lisbon system.

    A new paragraph 24 now stands under agenda item 6, and reads: “No interventions were made under this item.” Subsequently, all remaining paragraph will be renumbered.

    Finally, in the annexed Article 10 (1)(i), a double bracket was also inserted around the word “evocation.”

    Catherine Saez may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Chair Of Stalled WTO Talks On GIs May Take Another Tack | Intellectual Property Watch says:

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


    Leave a Reply

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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