Consultations On Geographical Indications Aim To Structure Discussions At WTO27/02/2006 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for 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)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.Informal consultations were held at the World Trade Organization on 24 February on how to structure negotiations over the coming months on a proposed register for geographical indications (GIs) on wines and spirits, a participant said.The register is scheduled to be discussed at a special session of the WTO Council on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on 16-17 March. The informal negotiations were held by special session Chair Manzoor Ahmad, Ambassador of Pakistan.Although the meeting was only on procedure, it indicates that the discussion on GI issues is still active. The issue is being pushed by the European Union. At a meeting in Washington last week, European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson emphasised that without any progress on GI issues in the Doha negotiation round, it would be very difficult to make any move at all, according to a EU official. He said that it was a matter of respecting the EU’s “value-added products” and names associated with European products.At the meeting, members agreed that negotiations would proceed based on a “prioritised list of issues” prepared by the WTO secretariat last year (TN/IP/W/12) outlining, side by side, the three proposals on the table, the participant said.These proposals include a joint proposal co-sponsored by Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Taiwan and the United States; a proposal from Hong Kong from about two years ago; and a European Union proposal from June 2005.The European Union and Switzerland support a mandatory register with legal binding, while those supporting the joint proposal do not. The Hong Kong proposal is somewhat in between, emphasising voluntary participation but also noting that “the obligation to give legal effect to registrations under the system will only be binding upon members choosing to participate in the system.”The EU proposal outlines three GI issues: A register for wines and spirits, the extension of such protection to products beyond wines and spirits and a proposed claw-back list of products which retrospectively should get GI protection, the EU official said.The three priorities include participation, “legal effects” and issues related to costs and burden of a potential register, the participant said.The participation issue refers to whether such a register should be mandatory for all WTO members or not, while “the legal effects question relates in part to whether registration of a term multilaterally should give rise to presumptions of protection of that term in all WTO members,” according to the participant.An Australian official said that while her delegation and other proponents of the joint proposal are willing to discuss the issues of participation and legal effects, “the negotiations need to remain within the mandate in Article 23.4 of the TRIPS agreement, which clearly provides for a voluntary system which would facilitate the existing level of protection provided to wines and spirits GIs, and not increase the protection of GIs vis-à-vis other rights holders.”But at the meeting, Switzerland questioned whether the joint proposal would be effective in facilitating protection, the participant said.Article 23.4 of TRIPS states that, “In order to facilitate the protection of geographical indications for wines, negotiations shall be undertaken in the Council for TRIPS concerning the establishment of a multilateral system of notification and registration of geographical indications for wines eligible for protection in those Members participating in the system.”Some delegations argue that the negotiations on a wines and spirits register have been affected by the EU’s proposal on GI extension, “which would see the register being negotiated in the TRIPS special session extended to all products,” according to the participant.The EU argues there is a mandate to negotiate an extension of GI protection under implementation issues, as indicated in paragraph 39 of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration.The EU official said that many countries try to dissociate the issues of a register and an extension to make sure there would be no alliance between the EU and developing countries. Such countries argue that the extension could be of interest for developing countries but that the wines and spirits register is only for European commercial interests, he said.The EU official noted that the opponents of a register had already managed to get all Latin American countries onboard, except the Caribbean.Consultations on Biological Diversity IssuesSeparately, informal discussions on the relationship between WTO rules and the Convention on Biological Diversity appear to be scheduled for 28 February but not as part of the TRIPS special session as these issues are part of “outstanding implementation issues” under paragraph 12(b) of the Doha Ministerial Declaration, a source said.In the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration, paragraph 39 (under “Implementation”) the WTO director general is requested “to intensify his consultative process on all outstanding implementation issues,” and a review of progress made will be carried out no later than by 31 July 2006.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)Related"Consultations On Geographical Indications Aim To Structure Discussions At WTO" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.