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

Ambassador Eui-yong Chung (Korea, Republic of)
C.iv Participation
122. The representative of Australia said that her delegation did not see any tension between the concept of a "multilateral system" and the one related to geographical indications "eligible for protection in those Members participating in the system". Any notification and registration system negotiated in a multilateral body (the TRIPS Council) under a mandate contained in a multilateral agreement (the TRIPS Agreement) and presumably foreseen to be administered by a multilateral organization (the WTO) was by definition multilateral in character even if participation in such a system by WTO Members was voluntary. Her delegation did not consider that use of the word "multilateral" as opposed to "plurilateral" by the drafters of the TRIPS Agreement should be construed so as to override the clear intent of the words "those Members participating in the system". She said that, at the time of drafting Article 23.4, it was clearly impossible to predict how many Members would choose to participate in the system. It was not beyond the realm of possibility that all WTO Members would so choose, and it would not therefore have made sense to exclude that possibility by prejudging that the system would be plurilateral. It was therefore logical that the drafters of the TRIPS Agreement chose the word "multilateral", in line with the multilateral mandate and multilateral nature of the negotiating forum. It was also logical that the drafters foresaw that not all WTO Members would have an interest in participating in a system to facilitate the protection of geographical indications for wines (as the original Article 23.4 mandate provided), and therefore saw fit to provide that the system should be voluntary. In her delegation's view, the word "multilateral" did not have any bearing on the issue of participation in the system. That would be inconsistent with other intellectual property systems.