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

H.E. Ambassador Dr Lansana GBERIE
European Union

15.   The European Union is pleased to present to you the regulations and measures adopted in the area of GIs, and more particularly of GIs concerning the European Union itself. I am going to hand over the floor to two people and I will then take the floor again as we are also going to cover, on behalf of Italy and France, the regulations and laws that have been passed in these two countries. I now hand over to Mr. Klaus Blank of the Directorate General for Agriculture of the European Commission. 16.   As regards the European Union notification IP/N/1/EU/38: this is Regulation (EU) 2021/2117 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 2 December 2021 amending Regulations (EU) No 1308/2013 establishing a common organization of the markets in agricultural products, Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs, Regulation (EU) No 251/2014 on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of aromatized wine products and Regulation (EU) No 228/2013 laying down specific measures for agriculture in the outermost regions of the Union. 17.   The text of the regulations modifies the primary EU legislation on geographical indications in the sectors of food, wine and aromatized wines and the EU legislation on traditional specialities guaranteed. Regulations (EU) No 1151/2012 on Geographical Indications in the food sector and on Traditional Specialities Guaranteed, Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 (for the part concerning Geographical Indications in the wine sector) and Regulation (EU) 251/2014 (for the part concerning Geographical Indications in the aromatized wines drink sector) have been modified. The new rules affect the scope, the definitions, the content of the product specification, the procedures for registration, amendment and cancellation, the extent of the protection, the labelling, the use of logo and the checks of the Geographical Indications (GI) in wine and food sector. Procedures for registration and amendment of Traditional Specialities Guaranteed in the food sector have also been modified. The Aromatized Wines GI sector has been merged into the food GI sector. The Regulation entered into force on 7 December 2021. 18.   Second, as regards to document IP/N/1/EU/39 this concerns the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/891 of 1 April 2022 amending Delegated Regulation (EU) No 664/2014, supplementing Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to the establishment of the Union symbols for protected designations of origin, protected geographical indications and traditional specialities guaranteed and with regard to certain rules on sourcing, certain procedural rules and certain additional transitional rules. 19.   The text of this delegated regulation modifies the existing Commission Regulation (EU) No 664/2014, which is the Commission Delegated Regulation of the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU) No 1151/2012 on geographical indications in the food sector, which has been amended by Regulation (EU) No 2021/2117. In particular, the text concerns specific rules for applications for approval of Union amendments and for approval and communication of standard and temporary amendments. This Regulation entered into force on 11 June 2022. 20.   Finally, as regards the notification in document IP/N/1/EU/40 this concerns the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2022/892 of 1 April 2022 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 668/2014 laying down rules for the application of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs. 21.   The text of that Commission Implementing Regulation modifies the existing Commission Regulation (EU) No 668/2014, which is the Commission Implementing Regulation of the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU) No 1151/2012 on geographical indications in the food sector, which has been amended by Regulation (EU) No 2021/2117. In particular, the text concerns specific rules for applications for approval of Union amendments and for approval and communication of standard and temporary amendments, for the use of specific digital system of managing the applications and communicating with the Commission, and for the establishment of the electronic register. This Regulation also entered into force on 11 June 2022. I will now hand over to a colleague. 22.   Good morning, colleagues. It will be me who will present the notification by Italy that I think was circulated in the meantime, and Pierre-Yves, my colleague from Brussels, will then introduce after me the French notifications. So, as regards the Italian notification, Italy is notifying several pieces of legislation affecting IP covering a wide time frame from 2001 until 2020. Some of these legislative pieces have been taken recently, to adapt the legislation to technological improvements or to introduce new digitalized and streamlined administrative procedures for applicants. Other instruments were adopted some years ago to improve judicial or administrative procedures or to implement EU directives at national level. Some of the acts notified relate to primary law (laws or legislative acts), some others relate to regulations or implementation acts, mainly aimed at procedural and operational improvements. The overall objective is to modernize and simplify substantive IP rules and procedures in line with the international and European practice and standards. 23.   I will start with the notification IP/N/1/ITA/6. The most relevant and recent modification took place in 2019 with the Ministerial Decree of 13 November, concerning a new examination procedure for international applications for patents. This new procedure allows the Italian patent office to examine an international patent application designating Italy as the country of protection. Previously, an international application for a patent to be protected in Italy had to be submitted only through the European Patent Office. This is an improvement in the application of the "Patent and Cooperation Treaty" of WIPO and an additional option for international businesses seeking patent protection in Italy. 24.   The next notification is IP/N/1/ITA/8. In 2020, the Industrial Property Code of 2005 was amended by the Legislative Decree No. 34 of 19 May as regards the historic national brand. The procedure introduced in 2019 concerning companies owing historic national brands deciding to relocate abroad was repealed, together with the corresponding support fund. 25.   The next notification is IP/N/1/ITA/7. A decree of 3 April 2018 established the on-line platform named "PAGO PA" for the online payment of the administrative fees related to most administrative procedures of the Italian Patent and Trademark Office. This makes available a digital payment, whereby before the payment was possible through bank transfer or postal bulletin. 26.   The next notification is IP/N/1/ITA/4. In 2003, a legislative decree of 27 June established, in civil tribunals and courts of appeal, 12 divisions specialized in industrial and intellectual property. In 2012, the specialized IP divisions were increased to 21. This amendment allows judicial cases concerning IP rights to be reviewed directly by competent IP judges, speeding up the judicial procedure and better serving business interests. 27.   The next notification is IP/N/1/ITA/9. In 2001, Italy transposed the EU Directive 1998/71 concerning the legal protection of industrial designs. National provisions dating back to 1940 were modified in the substance and in procedures. New definitions of design, industrial model and industrial design were introduced, as well as a definition of access to the public. A reference to the Locarno international classification for design applications was also introduced. Finally, registration requirements and criteria were changed and modernized in line with the EU framework. 28.   The penultimate notification is IP/N/1/ITA/5. In November 2019, a joint ministerial decree was adopted: it introduced new procedures for the registration of new plant varieties and a new method to pay the related fee. This implementing decree improved and streamlined the procedures to register new plant varieties. 29.   Last but not least IP/N/1/ITA/3. In March 2020, Italy enacted a law with provisions for the organization of the winter olympic and para-olympic games in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo in 2026. Such law contains also a provision concerning the prohibition of activities of ambush marketing and misleading advertising. These activities are prohibited on the occasion of sport events or trade fairs of national or international relevance if they are not authorised by the organising bodies and when they are aimed at gaining an economic or competitive advantage. The prohibition aims at preventing unfair competition in marketing and advertising during big sport events. That's all from me and I give the floor to my colleague Pierre-Yves. 30.   Now the regulations and legislation that have been adopted by France, from IP/N/1/FRA/2 to IP/N/1/FRA/17. I will illustrate these notifications with four laws: The "Pact" Law No. 2019/486 of 22 May 2019 on the growth and transformation of companies and its implementing regulations introduce various measures to modernize and safeguard the intellectual property framework in France: a. Some measures concern patents: filing of a provisional application for a patent to facilitate access to intellectual property, particularly for SMEs and start-ups; creation of an opposition procedure before the intellectual property office and strengthening of the patent substantive examination procedure to ensure greater legal certainty. b. Other measures concern trademarks and stem from the transposition of EU Directive No. 2015/2436 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trademarks: creation of new types of trademarks (sound, motion (animated) or multimedia); changes to the opposition procedure and creation of a procedure for the invalidation or revocation of trademarks before the intellectual property office. 31.   The second law I would like to present to you is Law No. 2018/670 of 30 July 2018, which transposes Directive No. 2016/943/EU of 8 June 2016 on the protection of undisclosed know how and business information against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure. Order No. 2018 341 amends the French Intellectual Property Code to ensure that French legislation is compatible with European regulations on the unitary patent and the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court. 32.   Lastly, other legislation notified concerns copyright: Law No. 2019/775 of 24 July 2019 creates a right related to copyright for the benefit of news agencies and press publishers; Law No. 2021 1382 of 25 October 2021 on the regulation and protection of access to cultural works in the digital age aims to better protect creators' rights (by providing for a system for blocking or dereferencing mirror sites and an ad hoc interim mechanism to tackle sports streaming websites); and Order No. 2021 1518 introduces mandatory exceptions to copyright in order to allow for text and data mining, digital uses of works for the purposes of illustration for teaching, and the preservation of cultural heritage. With this, we have finished with the EU notifications, including those from France and Italy.

The Council took note of the notifications and the statements made.
1. The Chair invited the Secretariat to update delegations on the notifications under various provisions of the TRIPS Agreement that had been submitted since the meeting in July 2022, and said he would then offer the floor to delegations wishing to introduce their notifications.
2. The representative of the Secretariat said that the Council had received the following notifications, under Article 63.2 of the TRIPS Agreement:
a. Thailand had provided a Notification of the Ministry of Commerce on the Determination of Counterfeit Goods and Pirated Goods as Goods Prohibited from Export;
b. Saudi Arabia, Kingdom of had notified its Competition Law and the corresponding implementing Regulations;
c. Tonga had notified consolidated 2020 versions of its Industrial Property Act and Regulations, its Copyright Act, its Protection of Layout Designs Act and Regulations, its Protection of Geographical Indications Act and Regulations, and its Customs and Excise Management Act;
d. The Seychelles had notified its 2022 Fair Trading Act;
e. The European Union had notified three EU Regulations pertaining to the quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs, to the establishment of Union Symbols for PDOs, PGIs and TSGs, and to the GIs for aromatized wines;
f. Brazil had notified an amendment to its Patent Statute;
g. Ukraine had notified a law concerning the Protection of Interests of Persons in the Sphere of Intellectual Property during the Martial Law in connection with the Military Aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine;
h. Chinese Taipei had notified consolidated versions of its Patent Act, its Copyright Act, and its Copyright Collective Management Organization Act;
i. Italy had notified Decrees relating to the Prohibition of Ambush Marketing ahead of the organization of the 2026 Olympic Games in Italy, to Design protection, and to establishing specialized intellectual property divisions of tribunals and courts of appeals. It had also notified amended procedural rules relating to plant varieties, to patent applications that designate Italy, and to the setting up of an online platform for fee payment;
j. France had notified legislation relating to genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, to ensuring compatibility with the Unified Patent Court jurisdiction, to trademarks, trade secrets and to the transformation of utility model applications into patent applications, among others.
3. Bulgaria, Austria, Lithuania and Greece had notified a contact point for IP enforcement under Article 69. Austria had also notified a contact point under Art 67.
4. The Chair invited delegations that had provided new or revised notifications to the Council to introduce those notifications. The representatives of Thailand, Seychelles, the European Union, Chinese Taipei, Brazil, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of, Tonga, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America took the floor.
5. The Chair thanked delegations for the information provided on their notifications. He noted that notifications to the Council were not keeping up with the actual development of laws and regulations relating to TRIPS and emphasized that Article 63.2 of the TRIPS Agreement was not a one-off requirement. It was a core element of the TRIPS transparency arrangements, and a central part of the Council's substantive work. It obliged Members to notify any new or amended laws in the area of TRIPS. He urged Members to complete any outstanding initial notifications and to keep up to date with notifications on subsequent amendments. The same applied to the Checklist of Issues on Enforcement which was established by the Council as an element of Members' notification obligations. He pointed out that the e-TRIPS platform made fulfilling these transparency obligations much easier.
6. The requirement included the notification of legislative changes made to implement the special compulsory licensing system to export medicines covered by Article 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement. More than 50 WTO Members, including most of the world's major exporters of medicines, had adopted implementing legislation that allowed them to use the System as exporters and/or importers. But only 21 Members, including the European Union, had formally notified such measures to the TRIPS Council. The notification of all relevant laws and regulations could assist Members in preparing for the potential use of the System, which was a matter of immediate practical concern at that moment. It would also help the Secretariat in its efforts to provide informed technical support to Members in this area.
7. A more comprehensive picture of how the special compulsory licensing system had been implemented in Members' domestic law could also help Members' on-going discussions about how this particular TRIPS flexibility worked in practice, and about the causes of any potential delays or hindrances in using the system.
8. The Chair recalled that all these notifications could be made through the e-TRIPS Notification Submission System (NSS). E-TRIPS not only facilitated the submission of information by Members – it also permitted digital access, consultation, and analysis of this information through the e-TRIPS Gateway, an easy-to use interface to search and display information related to the TRIPS Council. The Secretariat was available to respond to any question in that regard. He also referred to the latest "Annual Report on Notifications and other Information Flows" issued by the Secretariat in March 2022 in document , which summarized submission rates and identifies trends for each of the primary TRIPS transparency mechanisms and would be updated ahead of the first formal meeting of the TRIPS Council in 2023.
9. The Council took note of the notifications and the statements made.
IP/C/M/106, IP/C/M/106/Add.1