WTO Ministerial: TRIPS Issues May Be Tackled In Smaller Groups Seeking Compromises23/07/2008 by Kaitlin Mara, 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.By Kaitlin Mara and William New A meeting tentatively scheduled for late Wednesday evening to mediate differences of opinion on three intellectual property issues was postponed, at least until Thursday, when consultations may move into smaller groups, sources say.There have been several days of meetings and informal consultations in this week’s World Trade Organization ministerial, but little sign of convergence between those who want to see the IP issues move towards text-based negotiations this week and those who think discussing these issues now will jeopardise the already-delicate state of negotiations.Jonas Gahr Støre, foreign minister for Norway, was appointed chair of the TRIPS issues this week by WTO Director General Pascal Lamy at Wednesday morning’s informal Trade Negotiations Committee. One source explained that this was due to his previous experience with intellectual property law. Trade ministers are meeting in Geneva from 21 to 27 July (and perhaps later).The three issues in question are: the creation of an international register on geographical indications – product names associated with a place and characteristics – on wines and spirits, the possibility of extending high level protection on geographical indications to products other than wines and spirits, and a proposed amendment to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement that would bring it in line with obligations under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).Only the GI register is mandated by the 2001 Doha Declaration guiding this week’s talks, though there is a direction within the Doha agreement for delegates “to explore the relationship between TRIPS and the CBD.”Those who support GI extension have formed a strategic alliance with the “friends of the CBD,” and have argued that these issues should be discussed this week in hopes of seeing text-based negotiations in the near future. They represent a majority of WTO members. This group is also arguing for the GI register.The other group supports the “joint proposal” on the GI register which calls for the register to be voluntary, entered in a database. This group opposes GI extension, and has “nuanced views” on the CBD issue, according to one source.Members are expected to be informed Thursday morning of the next consultation, if it takes place, possibly on short notice.“Its a bit of a disappointment, though probably too early to interpret that,” an official from a proponent country said of Wednesday’s delay. Støre was “keen” to hold the meeting on Wednesday evening, as were the proponents, the official said. It would not be held “only if there was no willingness to engage” on the opponents’ side, which appears to have been the case, said the official. Yet there is no time to lose, the official added, as the weeklong ministerial is well-advanced.A separate proponent delegate who was in the meeting said this delay “is not necessarily an indication that things went badly in consultations” on Wednesday afternoon. Instead, the source suggested that the chair had needed more time for understanding all of the positions in order to better mediate.A delegate from the side not wishing to discuss IP issues this week emphasised that “there are no opponents” to IP issues; instead there are “proponents of the joint proposal on the [GI] register” who oppose GI extension and “have common objectives on the CBD.”Two consultations were held on Wednesday with Støre.The first was among the proponents of discussing TRIPS issues this week, and included Brazil, the Côte d’Ivoire (representing the Africa Group), the European Union, India, Mauritius (representing the Least Developed Country Group), and Peru, an official said.The second was among the “joint proposal” proponents, who oppose discussing TRIPS issues this week, and included Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States, according to a source.It is possible the next step will be consultations with the chair and individuals or small groups, to hear their concerns and try to find where “assurances” would help to allow the issues to be brought into the negotiations, the proponent official said.Proponents also have asked in the Green Room meetings with Director General Pascal Lamy this week what assurances opponents would need, but have not been able to get them to engage on the issue, the official said.Kaitlin Mara may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. William New may be reached at email@example.com.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"WTO Ministerial: TRIPS Issues May Be Tackled In Smaller Groups Seeking Compromises" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.