Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

Ambassador Chak Mun See (Singapore)
World Trade Organization
I.1 General Comments
129. The representative of the Secretariat said that there had been two types of comments on the preliminary version of the summary paper (JOB(00)/5619). First, there had been corrections, additions or clarifications in regard to the way in which individual national systems had been reflected in the paper. Document IP/C/W/253 had been corrected or otherwise modified in accordance with these comments. The second type of comments concerned the way in which information had been presented and the terminology and categorization that had been used in the presentation of the information. Only the delegation of the European Communities had made written comments of this type, which it had also expressed orally at the previous meeting of the Council. Within the guidance given by the Council for the preparation of the paper, the Secretariat had to take its own responsibility in terms of deciding upon the best method of presenting the information in the fairest and least prejudicial way, taking into account the balance of views underlying this information. The Secretariat had felt that, in regard to the particular point raised concerning the term "indications of geographical origin" used in the paper, the presentation of the information provided by Members would be less prejudicial, or involve less appearance of being prejudicial, if it would not use terms that had precise legal meanings, such as the term "geographical indication". A wide diversity of terms used had been presented as well as a wide diversity of measures employed to protect terms which had a geographical significance and it was likely that many different views would exist among Members as to whether all these terms and systems amounted to the protection of geographical indications in the meaning of the TRIPS Agreement. Consequently, as explained in paragraph 6 of the introduction to document IP/C/W/253, the Secretariat had felt that it was better to use a more general term as a common denominator for all the terms and systems presented just for the purposes of this paper. Regarding the issue of "special protection" vis-à-vis "sui generis protection", some Members had provided information concerning special forms of protection, in particular in respect of wines or spirits, under legal instruments which were not sui generis geographical indication laws. The paper needed to recognize that type of situation. The Secretariat had tried to allay the concerns expressed with regard to the preliminary version of the paper (JOB(00)/5619) on both points, by inserting in the final version (document IP/C/W/253, paragraph 6) language clarifying that the term "indication of geographical origin (IGO)" was not being used for any purpose other than that indicated, i.e. for the purpose of the summary paper, and emphasizing, in the parts which dealt with special protection (in particular paragraph 14 and Tables I and II of document IP/C/W/253), the distinction between, on the one hand, forms of protection under sui generis laws specifically dedicated to the protection of geographical indications, whether or not they used the term "geographical indication", and, on the other hand, those regimes which used other types of legal instruments to provide special protection.