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

Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku (Zimbabwe)
76. The representative of Argentina said that the EC's comparative table (IP/C/W/259) was very helpful in understanding the fundamental differences between the EC proposal and the collective or joint proposal. Argentina was pleased that the EC had presented the Hungarian proposal (IP/C/W/255) separately, without incorporating it into the EC proposal for the time being. Argentina would find it very difficult, almost impossible, to accept a dispute settlement mechanism as proposed by Hungary for a particular category of intellectual property rights. This was an additional obligation beyond that provided under Article 23.4. The register and its formalities should in fact facilitate the system of protection of geographical indications without creating new obligations which might result in an unjustifiable obstacle to trade in wines and spirits. Argentina believed that the collective or joint proposal was compatible with the basic parameters for a system of notification and registration. Regarding the proposal made by Hungary, she highlighted some elements which had raised questions and serious reservations for her delegation. It would not only create additional obligations, but also take away certain rights from Members, such as the exceptions under Article 24.4 to 24.6. It seemed that, under paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Hungarian proposal, in those Members which did not oppose a registration, it would be irrelevant whether or not another Member had opposed it, even if that other Member's opposition had been successful. The proposal indicated that a geographical indication would be registered, the only difference being that a Member who had successfully opposed it would not be obliged to protect it. It appeared from paragraph 3 of the proposal that the only geographical indications which, although successfully opposed, would not be registered nor generate obligations for any Member were those successfully opposed on the basis of Article 22.1 (the definition or conditions of eligibility for protection of a geographical indication) and Article 22.4 (geographical indications which, although literally true, falsely represented to the public that goods originated in another territory). Argentina was concerned that, under the Hungarian proposal, if a Member wished to exercise its rights under Article 24.4 to 24.6, it could only do so under an opposition procedure within an international arbitration framework. It seemed that it could not exercise its rights under the Agreement at a later time through its domestic legislation or in any other instance. In other words, the proposal seemed to take away important rights which were already provided in the Agreement. Linking this with the proposals for extension of additional protection under Article 24.1, she recalled that some Members had given assurances that extension was not so dramatic because the exceptions would continue to be available. However, it was possible that the multilateral register might eliminate some of them. Argentina also had a serious concern regarding Article 24.9, which exempted Members from protecting geographical indications which were not or ceased to be protected in their country of origin, or which had fallen into disuse in that country. Paragraph 7 of Hungary's proposal, and paragraph D.5 of the EC proposal as it already stood, only mentioned the "suspension" of the obligation. This appeared to limit the right contained in Article 24.9.