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

Ambassador István Major (Hungary)
83. The representative of Australia said that her delegation was in favour of the transparency and efficiency a register would bring and was happy to look at constructive ways to meet the obligations under Article 23.4. She wished to follow up on some of the comments made at the present meeting. On the issue of scope, while noting the point made by the representative of the Czech Republic regarding the provisions of Articles 22, 23 and 24, she stressed that these provisions also contained a number of caveats and standards which also needed to be taken into account. Members should not be misled that TRIPS obligations were about to change and engage in too much speculation about anything that was not in the TRIPS Agreement. In discussing how to meet the obligations, the Council should not address matters that were not obligations. A related question was whether the negotiations under Article 23.4 envisaged the renegotiation of other existing rights that were provided for in Article 24. In her delegation's view, this would go beyond the normal understanding of Section 3. A similar point could also be made about the voluntary nature. Her delegation was not convinced that the opportunity to object to specific geographical indications was really a substitute for a truly voluntary system. She reiterated her delegation's comments at the previous meeting concerning oppositions, in particular those concerning whether an opponent had to establish a prima facie case or not, and what would happen in the interim. Her delegation was also concerned about the labour-intensive nature of the system as any register would have to be enforced through domestic procedures. Every Member would have an interest in watching which terms were registered and she was not persuaded that the fact that the register would only apply to certain Members would diminish the need for all to regularly check its contents. Her delegation would wish to ensure that any system of proof set up for the register would not favour one particular model, system or approach, given that Members took a range of approaches to the protection of geographical indications. As regards the issues of disputes and costs, the system would not be cheap if this would only transfer all the costs to national authorities. The question of how any disputes arising from oppositions would be resolved was a fundamental issue and she looked forward to further discussions on this matter, which had been left open in the proposal of the European Communities.