EU Flags Geographical Indications In WTO Trade Talks Paper 22/06/2006 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)In a new European Union communication to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the ongoing agriculture negotiations, the EU has moved its call for higher intellectual property rights protection for product names deriving from geographical locations to the top of its list of demands. At issue is Europe’s wish to better protect its geographical indications (GIs), products whose brands or characteristics refer to their geographical origin. The EU has increasingly prioritised the extension to other products of the higher level of protection wines and spirits currently receive under WTO rules, as well as a compulsory, binding register for GIs. The EU communication has been tabled as part of informal discussions, a developing country source said. It may be reflected in a first draft on modalities in agriculture and non-agricultural market access that the chairman of the special session of the Committee on Agriculture is expected to distribute on 22 June, an informed source said. But it is not certain whether GIs will be part of this draft as there is a lot of resistance to the GI issues, which is most strongly supported by the EU, the source said. The fact that the European Union has moved the issue to the top signals that GIs are “back in the swing,” an official from an EU government told Intellectual Property Watch. The move shows the importance Europe still is attaching to the GI issue in the overall trade talks, which are targeted for completion by the end of 2006. It may also provide a hope for negotiation and possible trade-off for other countries, particularly those focusing on the relationship between the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The so-called “CBD issues” are important for many developing countries (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 7 June 2006). But the developing country source said that if the GI issue is to be traded off in the negotiations with the CBD issue, this would have to be a deal with the EU. The United States would most likely still oppose it, the source said. The United States does not see the benefit from either issue. Both CBD and GIs are “implementation issues” under Article 39 of the Hong Kong Declaration from December 2005. The new EU communication [JOB(06)/190], a restricted document obtained by Intellectual Property Watch, was submitted to the 16 June special session of the special session of the Committee on Agriculture, and is entitled, “European Communities proposal on market access issues” (link available below). It states that, “geographical indications are of paramount importance for the EC due to their place in the EC’s quality policy. All GI issues on the table in the various areas of negotiation should be addressed in an integrated manner with a view to achieving satisfactory results.” The paper highlights three issues: That the protection that is currently enjoyed for wines and spirits under Article 23 of the TRIPS agreement be extended to other products as well; that “a multilateral system of notification and registration of GIs will be established” under Article 23.4 of the TRIPS agreement; and that a “limited number” of “well-known GIs” would no longer be useable by others than the rights holders, which is a reference to the so-called “clawback” argument. Some sources said that the EU is not pushing the clawback argument as hard as the other GI issues, something which the avoidance of the word itself in the new communication and the fact that it is the third point may indicate. The official from an EU government said that the more the EU is being pressured in agriculture, the more important the GIs become, as it could not be asked to make further concessions in return for nothing. GIs is one of “a few issues” that are “offensive for our interest in agriculture,” the official said. The official said that the EU wants a “meaningful register,” that would be compulsory and binding” and “not purely informative” as some have suggested. As for extension of GI protection to other products, the official argued that this could be done with “very little harm” and it is also a demand from developing countries. The issue of GIs have always been part of the agenda, the official said, particularly the GI register but “some countries tend to forget.” Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest this week reported that while the proposal had some support from members, Australia, Argentina and the United States continued to argue that there is no mandate to address the issue in the agriculture negotiations. EC Proposal 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 "EU Flags Geographical Indications In WTO Trade Talks Paper" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.