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

Ambassador Eduardo Pérez Motta (Mexico)
177. The representative of Australia said that many of the considerations that would face the United States were exactly the same for Australia. Even though Australia had a system of GIs for wines and spirits, to think that this would be a simple matter of extending it to other products was not true. All of the Members needed to be alerted to the fact that they were likely to face demands to protect a very large number of European GIs compared to a very small number of their own. In Australia's bilateral agreement with the European Communities on wine there were 89 Australian GIs compared to around 4,500 European GIs. He understood that other countries had been subjected to even more extreme EC claims for GI protection. Members needed to reflect very carefully on the simple number of GIs that each country was going to have to protect in its own legislation. He did not think there was any reason to believe that the numbers he had quoted in the past on wines and spirits would be any different in terms of non-wines and spirits. One should look, for example, at the experience of non-European and developing countries under the Lisbon Agreement. In a paper written recently by the South-Center on GIs, it was pointed out that, of the 766 registered appellations of origin under that agreement, a single country in the European Communities accounted for 66.3%, and six member States of the European Communities accounted for 94.3% of the registrations. At the same time, Burkina Faso, Congo, Costa Rica, Gabon, Haiti, Togo and Yugoslavia had not lodged any registrations. This illustrated the imbalance that WTO Members would have in this area. 178. The important issue of enforcement had not been adequately covered in the discussions. Enforcement obligations in respect of IPRs could be some of the most costly and difficult aspects of implementing intellectual property protection. The TRIPS Agreement obligated governments to provide necessary legal means to right holders and to play a role in enforcing the regime. For example, Article 23.2 required a government to refuse or invalidate registration of a trademark that contained or consisted of GIs for wines and spirits with respect to wines and spirits that did not have this origin. Article 23.3 required Members, that is, governments, to determine the practical conditions under which homonymous GIs could be used. Some of the enforcement provisions contained in Part III of the Agreement also had application to rights in GIs. For example, Section 2 of Part III required application of certain civil and administrative procedures to rights covered by TRIPS, including GIs. Furthermore, it was impossible to isolate the discussion of extension in this context from the negotiations for a multilateral system of registering wines and spirits GIs. Under the EC proposals, Members would have to play an even more active role in enforcement in the following ways: notifying domestic GIs; examining GIs by other countries; engaging in bilateral negotiations and, possibly, in dispute resolution to either defend or to object to a notification of a particular GI.