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

Mr. S. Harbinson (Hong Kong)
C.2.i Procedures for giving effect to the obligation to notify implementing legislation under Article 63.2
16. The representative of Tunisia believed that the documents in question formed a good basis for discussion. He pointed out that, since Article 63 was a transparency provision, any action by the Council in relation to it should be with the general aim of maintaining transparency. There were three principles underlying the Article which should be taken into consideration when drawing up the procedures for notification. First, the notification obligation applied to all Members and was essential for complying with the TRIPS Agreement. In addition, Members were obliged to supply, in response to a request from another Member, information on measures and legislation relating to intellectual property. Second, the intention of the drafters of the Article had been to lighten the burden for Members flowing from this notification obligation. He wondered whether the documents in question had been drawn up while respecting this principle. In this regard, he drew attention to the obligation to translate laws into a WTO language as set out in paragraphs 8 and 11 of document IP/C/W/6. The obligation for Members to provide translations was a heavy burden and might be rather difficult for Members to carry out. Third, the checklist as contained in document IP/C/W/9 was very ambitious and would pose considerable problems, in particular for developing countries, in supplying the information required. He said that the documents did not take into account that Article 63 laid down that the Council for TRIPS might waive the obligation to notify directly to the Council if consultations between the WTO and WIPO on the establishment of a common register had been successful. First steps relating to the general question of cooperation between WIPO and the WTO had been taken and there had been contact between the Chairman of the Council for TRIPS and the Director General of WIPO. However, many things were still unclear, such as who would negotiate and what would be their mandate and what would be the actual scope of the discussions over and beyond the "common register" and technical cooperation. So far, consultations with WIPO did not seem to have touched upon specific details. This raised the question as to whether document IP/W/C/6 reflected a final position of the Council or had been accepted ad referendum on the understanding that it could be modified in the light of these consultations. He did not disagree with the various points set out in the "Working Hypothesis" but continued to have difficulties in respect of the question of the overall burden placed on certain delegations. If the Council agreed with the general outline of the document, it should include somewhere a sentence which would clearly state that the procedure was open for review and for further adjustments in the light of the consultations to be held between the WTO and WIPO. Thus, the door would be left open for both Organizations and the Council could revise the procedure if necessary and waive the obligation to notify laws and regulations directly to the Council as set out in the TRIPS Agreement.