WTO Geographical Indications Discussion Moves To Higher Level 16/06/2006 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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)While there was little movement at a World Trade Organization meeting (WTO) on intellectual property rules this week, one of the IP issues in the current round of trade talks has been elevated to a consultation of ambassador-level officials under special invitation, sources said. The IP issue is geographical indications (GIs) and a proposal to extend the higher level of protection that wines and spirits enjoy for names derived from geographical places (such as Champagne) to other products as well (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 13 June 2006). The small-group consultation took place on 16 June with WTO Deputy Director General Rufus Yerxa and ambassadors or senior officials (with the possibility of bringing an additional delegate), sources say. It was preceded by a meeting of the WTO Council on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 15 June 2006). The consultation focused on whether there is a mandate to discuss GI extension and how the issue may be linked to the larger agriculture talks going on at the WTO with an end-of-2006 deadline, a source said. The current talks were launched at the WTO ministerial in Doha, Qatar in 2001. Negotiators are working under a deadline of 31 July by which time the General Council is supposed to review progress and “take any appropriate action,” according to Article 39 of the December 2005 Hong Kong WTO ministerial declaration. Only certain countries were invited to attend the consultation, the sources said, despite some of them wanting to include other countries as well. It is assumed that the group will stay fixed and not be expanded to include further countries, they said. Australia, Switzerland and Thailand attended the meeting, sources said, as did most likely the European Union and the United States. But other countries that have spoken strongly in favour of GI extension such as Bulgaria and Turkey (both of which are candidates to join the EU) were not invited, sources said. The small group signals a shift in the discussion, the source said, as it comes after there has been no movement in positions. The last GI extension meeting was held on 13 June as part of a special session prior to the TRIPS Council meeting (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 15 June 2006). The US may feel “cornered” on the GI and the discussion of the relationship between TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity and is not ready to make concessions until it sees more concessions from others in the agriculture sector, one source said. The GI extension issue is separate from a WTO discussion of setting up a GI register for wines and spirits. In paragraph 29 of the WTO Hong Kong declaration, it is noted that a register is mandated in Article 23.4 of the TRIPS agreement and paragraph 18 of declaration from the WTO ministerial in Doha. But many countries link the two GI issues, according to sources. The last informal meeting on the register ended abruptly as hardly any delegates wanted to take the floor, signalling no movement, and this was “as far as that process could take it,” a source said. One source in favour of GI extension said that the smaller group could mean that there is a “good chance” of some movement. The source said that Brazil and China have now expressed an openness to discuss the extension issue. The source said that China had been “raising” its voice on the issue and was now a “GI friend” opposed to having been a “semi friend” before. A Chinese official said that China wanted the discussion on GIs to continue in order to find a proper solution, but the CBD discussion was a priority. China is among a number of large developing countries that have proposed that the TRIPS agreement be amended in order to make it consistent with the CBD (IPW, TRIPS/WTO, 7 June 2006). Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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 "WTO Geographical Indications Discussion Moves To Higher Level" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.