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

H.E. Ambassador Dr Lansana GBERIE
European Union

24.   Before introducing the notification made by the European Union and its member States we would like to thank the Ukrainian authorities for their intervention today and for complying with the notification obligations of the TRIPS Agreement under the unprecedented circumstances caused by the brutal and unprovoked illegal invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. The European Union can only admire efforts of Ukrainian authorities in a situation where even the Ukrainian capital is under constant fire from Russian attacks on non-military targets and where Russia illegally occupies parts of the Ukrainian territories – I think the sandbags in Mr Ovechkin's office during his earlier remote intervention were quite telling – and also the impact of the Russian occupation on GIs. 25.   The EU appreciates that one of the notifications, namely IP/N/1/UKR/15, concerns the implementation of EU Regulation 2019/787 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation and labelling of spirit drinks, the use of the names of spirit drinks in the presentation and labelling of other foodstuffs, the protection of geographical indications for spirit drinks, the use of ethyl alcohol and distillates of agricultural origin in alcoholic beverages, and repealing Regulation (EC) N° 110/20. This implementation is one important step in the process of Ukrainian accession to the EU as, indeed, on 23 June 2022 the EU granted Ukraine the status of a candidate for accession to the European Union. The EU stands firmly by Ukraine and its people in this unparalleled crisis and will provide further political, financial, military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. 26.   Now, moving to the EU and its member States' notifications, the European Union and its member States place a high emphasis on notifications as an important tool to increase transparency in the WTO including in the IP context. We are therefore happy that as many as eight EU member States have since October 2022 provided extensive notifications to the WTO in the area of intellectual property to make sure that their notification record in this area is fully up to date. I will now present the notification made by Bulgaria, Latvia and Austria, and the remaining notifications will be presented online by my colleague Pierre-Yves who is in Brussels. I start with the Bulgarian notifications and here we are talking about all together 18 notifications from IP/N/1/BGR/3 until IP/N/1/BGR/21. 27.   In 2022 Bulgaria kept up with the continuing notification obligations and supported this Council's monitoring function by providing updates to its initial submissions. The notified laws and regulations under Article 63.2 of the TRIPS Agreement can be grouped in two categories:  The main laws and regulations  Secondary laws: national laws which are not dedicated to intellectual property rights as such, but which nonetheless pertain to the availability, scope, acquisition, enforcement and prevention of abuse of intellectual property rights. 28.   The main IP legislation includes the following:

1) Copyright and Related Rights Act; notification IP/N/1/BGR/3,

2) Industrial Design Act; which is IP/N/1/BGR/4,

3) Trademarks and Geographical Indications Act; notification IP/N/1/BGR/5,

4) Act on Patents and Registration of Utility Models; notification IP/N/1/BGR/6,

5) Act on Protection of New Plant Varieties and Animal Breeds; notification IP/N/1/BGR/7,

6) Act on The Topology of the Integrated Circuits; notification IP/N/1/BGR/8,

29.   These acts consolidated or replaced previous versions of notified legal acts. They incorporate all amendments that have been made in the period from 2010 until 2022. These are not initial notifications by their nature but rather updated versions that refer back to laws that have been notified earlier. 30.   The other pieces of main IP legislation are:

7)Regulation of the Council of Ministers N° 102 of 30 May 2022 for the Repeal of Legislative Acts of the Council of Ministers; IP/N/1/BGR/19,

8)Regulation of the Council of Ministers N° 242 of 27 December 1999 on the Tariff of Fees Collected by the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria; IP/N/1/BGR/21. The aim of notifying the abovementioned regulations is to inform the membership that previously notified regulations have been repealed.

9)Regulation of the Council of Ministers N° 120 of 25 March 1997 on the establishment of Council for copyright and neighboring rights protection; IP/N/1/BGR/9. This Regulation has been amended as of 8 July 2022 in line with the initiated institutional changes in Bulgaria which led to amendments in the composition of the Council for Copyright and Neighboring Rights Protection.

31.   Now, moving to the secondary legislation. It includes the following: 1)Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria; 2)Protection of Competition Act; 3)Code of Civil Procedure; 4)Administrative Violations and Penalties Act; 5)Administrative Procedure Code; 6)Judiciary System Act; 7)Penal Code; 8)Penal Procedure Code; 32.   All of the abovementioned legal texts have been submitted initially in 1998. The notified last versions incorporate all amendments and consolidations until 2022. 9)Regulation of the Council of Ministers N° 233 of 8 November 2000 on the Foreign Trade Regime of the Republic of Bulgaria; 10)Regulation of the Council of Ministers N° 15 of 31 January 2006 Amending Regulatory Acts of the Council of Ministers. 33.   The aim of notifying the abovementioned regulations was to inform that previously notified regulations have been repealed. This concludes the presentation of Bulgarian notifications.

34.   I will now move on to notifications made by Latvia and here we have 14 notifications ranging from IP/N/1/LVA/2 until IP/N/1/LVA/15. The most significant changes have been the new Trademark Law and corresponding Cabinet Regulations. Regarding the new Trademark Law, Latvia is preparing the official translation and therefore, the notification will be submitted at a later stage. On the Cabinet Regulation N° 266 which is IP/N/1/LVA/2 :  Cabinet Regulation N° 266 Adopted 27 April 2021 Regulations Regarding Applications for the Registration of Trademarks, Transfer of Rights and Licensing Thereof has been elaborated on the basis of the delegation established in Article 28, Paragraph 8, Article 29, Paragraph 11 and Article 30, Paragraph 6 of the Trademark Law, thus applying the provisions of the Trademark Law which transposes the provisions of the Law of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 June 2015 on the Trademark Registration, Transitional and Licensing of Rights to a Trademark. Directive (EU) 2015/2436 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2015 to approximate the laws of the member States relating to trademarks, as well as on the basis of the Singapore Agreement on Trademarks of 27 March 2006, in force in Latvia since 16 March 2009, which sets out the elements of the administrative procedures for the registration of trademarks in the member States of that Agreement. 35.   I will now provide additional information on Trademark Law: on 6 March 2020, the Trademark Law entered into force and the Law on Trademarks and Indications of Geographical Origin expired. The Trademarks Law implements Directive (EU) 2015/2436 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2015 to approximate the laws of the member States relating to trademarks. The Trademark Law regulates legal relations in the field of registration and protection of trademarks and collective marks, as well as protection of geographical indications. However, it also regulates legal relations in the field of the protection of the registration of certification marks. 36.   As regard of some other changes: the latest amendments to the Patent Law in IP/N/1/LVA/3 have been drafted in order to provide for the introduction of a unitary European patent, which will coexist with national patents and the classical European patent. Unitary Patents will make it possible to get patent protection in up to 25 EU member States by submitting a single request to the European Patent Office (EPO), making the procedure simpler and more cost effective for applicants. Considering that on 1 June 2023 Unified Patent court will enter into force, the Patent law has been amended accordingly. 37.   Another change is the latest amendments to the Law on Industrial Property Institutions and Procedures, notification IP/N/1/LVA/4, that implements Directive (EU) 2015/2436 as mentioned before. The latest amendments will further provide for the possibility for interested parties to lodge an application with the Board of Appeal for Industrial Property for the revocation or cancellation of a trademark. 38.   As regards Copyright Law, which is notification IP/N/1/LVA/9 - majority of the amendments were the result of the transposition of the European Union directives in the field of copyright and related rights. As for Law on Collective Management of Copyright, notification IP/N/1/LVA/10 – the law was elaborated to implement the European Union directive N° 2014/26/EU on collective management of copyright.

39.   Finally, some further information on the remaining notifications:

 Notification IP/N/1/LVA/5 is Cabinet Regulation N° 732 Adopted 15 December 2015 on Price List of Paid Services of the Industrial Property Board of Appeal. The Rules determine fees, payment procedures and concessions for the services provided by the Industrial Property Board of Appeal.

 Notification IP/N/1/LVA/6 is Cabinet Regulation N° 719 Adopted on 15 December 2015 on Procedures by which a Person Handling Registration or Post-registration Procedures shall Submit Documents to the Patent Office.

 Notification IP/N/1/LVA/7 is a Law on Designs. The law regulates legal relations in the field of registration, use and protection of designs.

 Notification IP/N/1/LVA/8 is a Law on the Protection of Topographies of Semiconductor Products. The law determines how topography in the Republic of Latvia is protected and registered in the Patent Office.

 Notification IP/N/1/LVA/11 is a Cabinet Regulation N° 556 Adopted 2 September 2020 on the Procedures for the Registration, Protection, Supervision and Control of Geographical Indications, Designations of Origin and Traditional Specialties Guaranteed of Agricultural Products and Foodstuffs. The Regulation prescribes the procedures for the registration, protection and supervision of geographical indications of agricultural products and foodstuffs, including spirit drinks and wines and also the procedures for the supervision and control of the scheme of protected designations of origin and the scheme of traditional specialties guaranteed in conformity with the EU law.

 Latvian notification then IP/N/1/LVA/12 is a Law on the Supervision of the Handling of Food. The Law determines the competent authority to supervise and control the protection of geographical indications and names of the place of origin, and also of traditional specialties.

 Notification IP/N/1/LVA/13 is Cabinet Regulation N° 764 - Adopted 22 December 2015 - Regulations Regarding the Sample Forms of the Registration Procedure of Designs and the Sample Registration Certificate Thereof. The Regulation determines specimen of application forms required for the registration of designs and a specimen of the design registration certificate.

 Notification IP/N/1/LVA/14 which is Customs Law and Amendments were made to the Customs Law to make sure that disputes regarding the violation of intellectual property rights are resolved in a civil procedure.

 Final notification, IP/N/1/LVA/15 which is Cabinet Regulation N° 468 from 2017 on the Rules on certain types of customs control that includes procedure described in Section 14.5 of the Customs Law.

40.   That concludes the Latvian notifications, and the next notifying member is Austria and here we have six notifications. Austria notified a rather wide variety of laws, namely the latest versions of their Patent Act, Copyright Act, Trademark Protection Act, Design Law and Collecting Societies Act and the EU on behalf of Austria is happy that all these measures are now completely up to date in the WTO's files. 41.   The Copyright Act, the Trademark Protection Act and the Design Act have been amended various times since 1996. These amendments are based in particular on the implementation of the European directives. As regards copyright, most recently, in 2021, Directive (EU) 2019/790 on copyright in the digital single market was implemented. As for trademarks, most recently Directive (EU) 2015/2436 mentioned already before was implemented and finally, as regards designs, one of the later amendments concerns the implementation of EC Directive 2004/48/EC on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights, inter alia, by changing the procedure in regard to registration and cancellation of designs by entrusting the "Oberlandesgericht Wien", with appeal procedures in second instance. 42.   When it comes to patents, the Patent Act 1970 was amended by the Federal Law Gazette N° 149/2004 which changed the structure of the patent application procedure (formal grant, publication of patent applications after 18 months) and combined the fee provisions regulated in individual acts into a single act. The amendment Federal Law Gazette I N° 126/2013 changed the system of instances in connection with invention protection rights. The second instance is now the Vienna Higher Regional Court; if a third instance decides, it is the Supreme Court. The amendment Federal Law Gazette I N° 71/2016 abolished the dual structure of the Patent Office and dissolved the partial legal capacity. Furthermore, it was clarified that not only conventional breeding methods of animals and plants are excluded from patenting, but also the conventionally-bred animals and plants themselves. 43.   Finally, with regard to Austria, the Austrian Collecting Societies Act 2016 specifies the rights and obligations of collective management organizations and Independent collective management organizations towards their beneficiaries, users and the regulatory authorities. 44.   This concludes my part of the notifications made by the EU and its member States and I hope my colleague Pierre Yves in Brussels will raise the flag and continue with the presentation of notifications by Lithuania, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland. Pierre-Yves's flag is up so, thank you.

45.   Thanks a lot Martin. Yes, Lithuania notified five pieces of law ranging from IP/N/1/LTU/2 until IP/N/1/LTU/6.

IP/N/1/LTU/2 is Law on Designs concerns procedural amendments, in concreto technical amendments concerning link to other state registers. There is also a special provision concerning calculation of time limits during the state of emergency.

IP/N/1/LTU/3. The Law on the Legal Protection of Topographies of Semiconductor Products. It contains technical amendments concerning the management of the register.

IP/N/1/LTU/4 is a Law on Trademarks. It is an implementation of the EU Directive 2015/2436 on Trademarks.

IP/N/1/LTU/5 on Patent Law. The law is an alignment with Patent Law Treaty and is supplemented with provisions concerning Unitary patent. Again, there are technical amendments concerning link to other state registers and a special provision concerning calculation of time limits during the state of emergency.

IP/N/1/LTU/6 is a Law on Fees for the Registration of Industrial Property Objects sets out amendments of amounts and payment of applicable fees.

46.   That is it for Lithuania. Now switch to Denmark. Denmark notified ten pieces of law ranging from IP/N/1/DNK/3 until IP/N/1/DNK/5.


IP/N/1/DNK/3: the Consolidated Plant Variety Protection Act, N° 1131 of 3 July 2020. The Act contains provisions on the rights for plant breeders to have their new plant varieties protected and to the entitlement to charge royalty for the use of propagating material of the protected variety and liability to punishment.

IP/N/1/DNK/4 is The Consolidated Patents Act, N° 90 of 29 January 2019. The Act contains provisions and basic principles on patents. Included are provisions on patent applications and examination, licensing and transfer, termination of patent, liability to punishment and liability for damages.

IP/N/1/DNK/5 is the Consolidated Secret Patents Act, N° 107 of 24 January 2012. The Act contains provisions for inventions relating to war material or processes for the manufacture of war material.

IP/N/1/DNK/6 - The Consolidated Employees' Inventions Act, N° 104 of 24 January 2012. This Act contains provisions on the inventions made by employees. Included are provisions on the employee's right to apply for patent and the employer's right to transfer of the right to the invention.

IP/N/1/DNK/7. The Consolidated Utility Models Act, N° 91 of 29 January 2019. The Act contains provisions relating to utility models.

IP/N/1/DNK/8. The Consolidated Inventions at Public Research Institutions Act, N° 210 of 17 March 2009. The Act contains provisions on patents related to research results produced with the help of public funds.

IP/N/1/DNK/9. The Consolidated Trademarks Act, N° 88 of 29 January 2019. This Act contains provisions on trademarks in respect of goods or services which are the subject of registration or of an application for registration, or to which rights are acquired through use, and international registrations with validity in Denmark.

IP/N/1/DNK/10. The Consolidated Designs Act, N° 89 of 29 January 2019. The Act contains general provisions and basic principles on designs. Included are provisions on applications and examination, licensing and transfer, termination of registrations, liability to punishment and liability for damages.

IP/N/1/DNK/11. The Consolidated Protection of Topographies of Semiconductor Products Act, N° 92 of 29 January 2019. This Act contains provisions on the protection of Topographies of Semiconductor Products.

IP/N/1/DNK/12. The Trade Secrets Act, N° 309 of 25 April 2018 on Trade Secrets.

47.   I switch now from Denmark to Italy. Italy provided one notification:

IP/N/1/ITA/8/REV.1. As for Italy, the point on the agenda is not new in substance and it was already presented at last Council for TRIPS in October 2022. The translation in English we provided last year was incomplete, therefore a revised version with the complete translation has been put in the agenda of the March 2023 Council for TRIPS. But in substance there are no changes compared to the legislation presented in October 2022. 48.   In 2020, the Industrial Property Code of 2005 was amended by the Legislative Decree N° 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.

49.   The next EU member State is Portugal:

 IP/N/1/PRT/2 is the Decree-Law N° 110/2018 of 10 December (approving the new Industrial Property Code). This is a General Code on IP comprising general rules on all industrial property and specific rules on patents, utility models, semiconductor topographies, designs or models, trademarks, appellations of origin and geographical indications and trade secrets. The general rules contain provisions on administrative and judicial processes, transfers of licenses, extinctions of rights or infractions.

 IP/N/1/PRT/3. It is Order N° 112 — A/2019 of 1 July and Resolution N° 680/2022 of 9 June 2022 updating industrial property fees. As the title indicates, the order provides fees linked to the filing of industrial property rights.

50.   Finally, I take the floor on behalf of Ireland:

 IP/N/1/IRL/2 - this particular notification relates to the Irish Trademarks Rules 1996 legislation, which prescribes for the practices and procedures to be used in relation to the provisions of the Trademarks Act 1996. The Rules prescribe for:

o the forms to be used for an application for registration of a Trademark,

o the fees payable in relation to any matter under the Act and Rules,

o the renewal, restoration, division and merger applications or registrations,

o Collective and Certification Marks,

o the rules regarding the Trademarks Register and the revocation, invalidation and rectification of the Register,

o the registration of Trademark Agents,

o the powers and duties of the Controller of Intellectual Property Rights,

o application to and Orders of the Court and a number of other miscellaneous matters.

 IP/N/1/IRL/3 called the "COMMUNITY TRADEMARK REGULATIONS, 2000 (Statutory Instrument Number 229/2000)" which extends the provisions of section 25 of the Trademarks Act, 1996 which deals with infringing goods, materials or articles and the power of seizure and search in relation to such goods to cover a community trademark as well as a registered trademark. Community trademark is European Union trademark.

 IP/N/1/IRL/4. It is the "COURTS OF JUSTICE ACT, 1924". The Act for the establishment of Ireland's Courts of Justice, pursuant to Ireland's Constitution, which provides for the establishment of the High Court of Ireland and the Supreme Court of Ireland, which under the "COMMUNITY TRADEMARK REGULATIONS, 2000" are respectively designated as community trademark courts of first instance and second instance.

 IP/N/1/IRL/5. The "COURTS (SUPPLEMENTAL PROVISIONS) ACT, 1961" provides supplementary provisions on certain staffing and jurisdictional issues related to all levels of Ireland's Courts, including the High Court of Ireland and the Supreme Court.

 IP/N/1/IRL/6. It is the "CONSUMER INFORMATION ACT, 1978" which provides for the establishment of Ireland's Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs and makes provisions in relation to the information given in connection with goods, services, accommodation or facilities, provided in the course trade which intends to protect consumers against false or misleading claims about goods, services and prices. The Act provides that the fact that a trade description is a trademark, or part of a trademark, within the meaning of the Trademarks Act, 1963, does not prevent it from being a false trade description when applied to any goods, except where certain conditions, which are set out in the Act, are satisfied.

 IP/N/1/IRL/7. The "JURISDICTION OF COURTS AND ENFORCEMENT OF JUDGMENTS ACT, 1998" which is an Act to consolidate the jurisdiction of Ireland Courts and enforcement of Judgements Acts, from 1988 to 1993.

 IP/N/1/IRL/8. Ireland's "COPYRIGHT AND RELATED RIGHTS ACT, 2000" which contains provisions in respect of copyright, protection of the rights of performers and rights in performances. It also contains provisions for licensing and registration schemes for copyright and related rights. This Act restates the law in respect of Council Directive 91/250/EEC on the legal protection of Computer Programs and Council Directive 93/98/EEC on Harmonizing the Term of Protection of copyright and certain related rights (giving effect to Article 2.1). It also gives effect to several other EU directives.

51.   That finishes the notification from the EU and the EU member States.

12. 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 October 2022 and said he would then offer the floor to delegations wishing to introduce their notifications.
2. A representative of the Secretariat said that the Council had received the following notifications, under Article 63.2 of the TRIPS Agreement:
a. A number of the member States of the European Union had notified a significant number of primary and secondary domestic laws relating to the substance and the administration of their respective IP systems. These EU member States were Bulgaria, Latvia, Austria, Lithuania, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland.
b. Canada had notified an amended set of patent rules.
c. Ukraine had notified two laws relating to geographical indications and a cabinet resolution addressing issues of the National Intellectual Property Authority.
d. Costa Rica had notified a significant number of laws and regulations relating to the entirety of its substantive IP system.
e. Japan had notified consolidated versions of the Trademark Act and the Designs Act.
f. Hong Kong, China had notified Rules and an Ordinance related to Registered Designs.
g. Chinese Taipei had notified its Copyright Act, its Patent Act, as well as Enforcement Rules of the Patent Act.
h. Saudi Arabia had notified the Law and implementing regulations relating to Arbitration. It had also notified Executive Regulations relating to the Copyright Law and the Patent Law.
i. Australia had notified amended Copyright Regulations which extend protection for secondary uses of foreign sound recordings to additional countries that provide equivalent protection to Australian sound recordings.
j. The United Kingdom had notified regulations related to the market organization and protection of agricultural products, food and drink after its withdrawal from the European Union.
k. The Gambia had notified its 2021 Intellectual Property Bill and related 2022 Regulations.
l. Korea had notified its Agricultural and Fishery Products Quality Control Act.
3. Ireland, El Salvador, the European Union and The Gambia had notified a contact point for IP enforcement under Article 69.
4. Austria, El Salvador, Botswana and The Gambia had also submitted new or updated responses to the Checklist on Issues of Enforcement.
5. The Chair invited delegations that had provided new or revised notifications to the Council to introduce those notifications. The representatives of Canada; the United Kingdom; Australia; Ukraine; Hong Kong, China; Korea, Republic of; Chinese Taipei; the European Union; Japan; Costa Rica; The Gambia; and the Russian Federation took the floor.
6. The Chair invited the Secretariat to introduce the "Annual Report on Notifications and other information flows" (document ).
7. A representative of the Secretariat took the floor.
8. The Chair thanked delegations for the information provided on their notifications and welcomed the information provided by the Secretariat. 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.
9. 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. It would also help the Secretariat in its efforts to provide informed technical support to Members in this area.
10. 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.
11. The Chair recalled that all these notifications could be made through the e-TRIPS Submission System. 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.
12. The Council took note of the notifications and the statements made.
IP/C/M/107, IP/C/M/107/Add.1