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

Ambassador Eui-yong Chung (Korea, Republic of)
European Union
C.iv Participation
125. The representative of the European Communities said that Article 23.4 of the TRIPS Agreement foresaw a "multilateral system" and envisioned protection for geographical indications "eligible for protection in those Members participating in the system". His delegation believed that, whatever system the parties agreed upon, it must give meaning to both terms. Determining the meaning of the term "multilateral" could only be done by contrasting it with the word "plurilateral". In the context of the WTO, "plurilateral" was understood as referring to a system in which participation was entirely voluntary, for example the Agreement on Government Procurement. Conversely, "multilateral systems" were understood to be instruments by which all Members were bound or would be bound. The words "eligible for protection in those Members participating in the system" would suggest that Members would be free to participate in the system if they wanted their own geographical indications to enjoy the benefits thereof. The proposals made by the EC and their member States and Hungary attempted to strike a balance by making some of the effects of the system applicable to all Members and limiting other effects to only participating Members. Those two proposals advanced that participating Members would provide a presumption of validity to notified and unopposed geographical indications. Under the EC's proposal, for example, notified and unopposed geographical indications would not see their protection refused in all Members on a number of grounds. The proposal of Canada, Chile, Japan and the United States also seemed to make a similar distinction between participating and non-participating Members. That proposal suggested that authorities of participating Members "shall" look at the list whereas authorities of non participating Members were "free" to look at the list. Yet, as there was no mechanism monitoring whether national authorities did look at the list or not, in practice, such distinction disappeared.