Cuba, Large Friends, Trying To Corner US Into Compliance With WTO Rum Trademark Ruling 25/03/2015 by William New, 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)Better relations may be on the way for Cuba and the United States, but the thaw has yet to be seen in a longstanding World Trade Organization dispute over a Cuban rum trademark. As it has done for years, the United States today casually reported that there are several pieces of legislation in the US Congress that might bring it into compliance with a longstanding WTO ruling that found it in violation of WTO rules for a 1998 measure blocking a Cuban trademark from receiving due legal process in the US, where a US-friendly firm is using it. But the Cuban government told the 25 March Dispute Settlement Body meeting it has heard those promises too many times before, according to sources. And several other heavyweights, such as China, Brazil and to an extent Mexico, raised concern that the ongoing delay by the US is undermining the WTO dispute settlement process. The dispute at issue is United States – Section 211 Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1998, involving the Havana Club rum trademark. Essentially everywhere in the world but the US, the trademark is owned by a joint venture between Cuba and French company Pernod Ricard. Section 211 prevents them from defending the trademark in US courts. The US measure was found in violation in 2002. In its statement to the DSB, the US mentioned that several bills introduced in the current (two-year) Congress would repeal Section 211. Other previously introduced legislation would modify Section 211, it added. It said it would continue to work on solutions. The US says the dispute is with the European Union, not Cuba. But Cuba is the outspoken one, not the EU. It said this was the 147th status report by the US, and it only points out that relevant legislation has been introduced in the current Congress and that the US would continue to work on a solution. Cuba noted the legislation was previously mentioned by the US, namely: HR 274, HR 403, HR 635, and HR 735. Now it demanded that the US enter the legislation in the official status report, as established by the rules of the Dispute Settlement Understanding. “Cuba reiterates that the mere reference to draft legislations that never thrive cannot be assessed as relevant information for the purposes of the obligations of surveillance, nor as a step forward to fulfil the legal obligations of this Member,” it said in the statement. It insisted that the US government has the capacity to urge Congress to repeal the offending measure. For its part, the EU very briefly thanked the US for its report and said it hopes the US authorities resolve the matter very soon. China, meanwhile, said the US’ “prolonged non-compliance is highly inappropriate with the principle of prompt compliance under the DSU,” and particularly cited the interests of a developing country member. Brazil said that, “regrettably, the report does not point to any concrete progress achieved.” It added that is shares the concerns “expressed by so many in the Body regarding the lack of compliance,” and urged the US to take concrete steps which it said would “certainly strengthen the multilateral rules.” Venezuela also had a strongly worded statement criticising the US report and the ongoing failure to resolve the issue. US Section 110 – No Free Irish Music in Bars Also at the DSB was a small amount of activity in another intellectual property-related matter, United States – Section 110(5) of the US Copyright Act. The case involves payment of royalties for playing music aloud in US bars and restaurants. The US also gave a short statement on its status report (WT/DS160/24/ADD.122) in this case, and said it will continue to confer with the European Union and work with the US Congress to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution. The EU very briefly referred to previous statements and said it would like to resolve this case as soon as possible. What the US Wants: Biotech Access to Europe Perhaps not surprisingly, the United States was much more forthcoming on a dispute in its own economic interest: the case European Communities – Measures Affecting the Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products. The EU gave a status report (WT/DS291/37/ADD.85) which was not to the US’ satisfaction. It said the EU has failed to approve a single new biotech product since November 2013, and that 13 product applications are awaiting final political approval. And the US said it noted with concern that it appears the EU has decided to further delay approvals until another re-examination of EU biotech approval measures. “The United States urges the EU to end these unwarranted delays and approve the pending applications immediately,” it said. 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 William New may be reached at email@example.com."Cuba, Large Friends, Trying To Corner US Into Compliance With WTO Rum Trademark Ruling" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.