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

H.E. Ambassador Dr Lansana GBERIE
55.   Costa Rica is grateful for the opportunity to discuss the notifications that we have submitted under this item on the Council's agenda. Firstly, we wish to point out that the notifications were submitted as part of my delegation's efforts to bring us up to date. In this connection, we would like to thank the Secretariat for the annual reporting on notifications, as this helped identify the need for the notifications that we had previously sent to the TRIPS Council to be updated. 56.   There have been significant intellectual property rights related regulatory developments in Costa Rica since we last submitted notifications on our legislation, which is reflected in the wide range of notifications under consideration today. Most of the legal reforms mentioned in these notifications stem from the implementation of the commitments taken on by Costa Rica under the Free Trade Agreement between the Dominican Republic, Central America and the United States, which entered into force in Costa Rica in 2009. 57.   These reforms include regulatory amendments in various intellectual property related spheres, including, inter alia, copyright and related rights, trademarks and other distinctive signs, geographical indications, patents, new plant varieties and the enforcement of intellectual property rights. They are part of wider efforts to recognize the importance of intellectual property as a driver of innovation and inclusive economic development and to meet the highest international protection standards. 58.   As part of these efforts, the Interinstitutional Coordination Commission for the Protection of Intellectual Property was established under Executive Decree No. 35631 J COMEX MICIT SP H of 30 September 2009 as an interinstitutional coordination body fostering the coordination of the work carried out by various state entities on intellectual property matters. This Commission is made up of representatives from the Ministries of Justice, Foreign Trade, Public Security, Science and Technology and Culture and Youth. They also form part of the Registry of Intellectual Property, the Directorate General of Customs, the Public Prosecutor's Office, the Judicial Investigation Body and the Judicial Academy. 59.   In view of the large number of regulations notified and the time constraints, we will focus in this meeting on introducing the reforms of the regulatory frameworks for copyright and related rights, trademarks and distinctive signs and geographical indications. We will address the reforms introduced in other relevant areas at the next meeting of the Council. 60.   With regard to copyright, the legislation on copyright and related rights was updated by increasing the scope of protection to include scientific works in addition to works in the literary and artistic fields (Law No. 8686 of 21 November 2002). Furthermore, the basic principle of nondiscrimination is explicitly incorporated to ensure that the works of authors, artists, performers, producers of phonograms and other foreign right holders, whether or not domiciled in Costa Rica, are granted protection no less favourable than that accorded to the works of Costa Ricans, including any benefit arising from this protection. 61.   Pursuant to the commitments taken on under trade agreements and multilateral instruments, the definitions of "broadcasting", "cinematographic work" and "performer" have been introduced into the Law, while certain concepts relating to the ownership of different types of works have also been delineated. Furthermore, a number of clarifications regarding moral rights have been incorporated. 62.   The legislation guarantees that the author's consent does not negate the need for the performers' consent and vice versa. The baseline legislation on trademarks and distinctive signs is Law No. 7978 on Trademarks and Other Distinctive Signs and its implementing regulations (Executive Decree No. 30233 J). A number of the Law's articles were amended by Law No. 8632 of 28 March 2008. 63.   Trademark legislation is far-reaching and recognizes collective trademarks, certification marks, design marks, sound marks, three dimensional marks and well-known trademarks, to name a few examples. 64.   Stricter rules were established on the registration of signs, with a view to preventing the registration of identical or similar signs likely to cause confusion due to similarity, even where the products or services are different but may be associated with those protected by a trademark or geographical indication previously registered or whose registration is pending. 65.   It is important to point out that well-known trademarks do not need to have been registered in order for the Registry of Intellectual Property to reject identical or similar signs for any good or service. Our Registry has developed procedures to ensure that these processes are handled properly and in a timely manner. 66.   Title VIII of Law No. 7978 on Trademarks and Other Distinctive Signs includes provisions on geographical indications and appellations of origin. These regulations were amended by Law No. 8632 of 28 March 2008. The rules and procedures for the implementation of this Title were laid down in Executive Decree No. 33743 COMEX J issued on 17 May 2007 and subsequently amended by Executive Decree No. 41572 COMEX J of 6 February 2019. The above-mentioned regulations established a sui generis system to protect geographical indications. In our legal system, trademarks do not prevail over geographical indications or vice versa. Instead, priority is afforded to whichever was registered first. 67.   Geographical indications and appellations of origin are registered with the Registry of Intellectual Property. The relevant application may be submitted by the production sector or by a competent public authority, depending on its statutory powers and whether it has been duly authorized to do so by producer groups. 68.   Protection does not extend to any generic terms contained in a geographical indication. A term is deemed to be generic when it is considered as such by experts and the general public in Costa Rica. Monitoring the use of signs is the responsibility of the regulatory councils, which are private bodies made up of producers. 69.   With regard to foreign geographical indications, the procedure is simplified because such indications are duly registered in their country of origin and, as a result, there is no need for an additional technical study. The regulations indicate that a summary of specifications and proof of registration in the country of origin should be provided. 70.   Before closing my statement, I would like to extend my delegation's thanks to the Secretariat's Intellectual Property, Government Procurement and Competition Division, whose collaboration has been key in the submission of these notifications. We also wish to highlight how useful the e-TRIPS tool was in this process, allowing for its quicker completion. On that note, I wish to conclude my statement and express our readiness to respond to Members' questions.
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