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

Ambassador C. Trevor Clarke (Barbados)
B.ii Meeting of 28 October 2009, p.m.
116. The representative of Switzerland said, in response to statements made by some delegations regarding certain points such as the number of GIs which would be included in the register, that those delegations might be complicating the discussion by putting emphasis on those points. She believed that TN/C/W/52 was going in the direction of some shared responsibility with a view to facilitating, and not increasing, protection. 117. Under the TN/C/W/52 proposal, when Members notified the names they considered to be GIs, they would do so in respect of the TRIPS definition in Article 22.1, which currently was applicable to all Members. On the basis of an evaluation done nationally, they would notify a name, which was on their responsibility. The information in the register should not be examined by all Members at the beginning of the procedure, so there would not be any burden, as suggested. She recalled that the proposals for such an examination and challenge at the multilateral level were no longer on the table. In other words the procedural requisites had been reduced. The information on the register would be information which would be at Members' disposal and would kick in on their territories only once they wished to protect a particular GI or a trademark containing such a GI. It would not be a burden imposed on Members to examine and determine each case at its domestic level immediately, i.e. to decide whether or not they must actively protect a GI. Only when there was a precise indication that the information on a notified GI could be pertinent would the authorities have to take action. For her delegation, it was precisely at that moment when it would be necessary to give some "weight" to the information. This weight included prima facie evidence of whether the name notified was a GI as defined in Article 22.1. It would also relate to the question of whether and why the name, which was recognized as a GI in the notifying country, had become generic in the consulting country. She further said that there was some legitimacy to recognize that a geographic name associated with a product manufactured in a country or place could not be used in any way in other countries or places, and hence some value should be given to the information. 118. Referring to the comment made by the Chairman that the information should be taken into account "seriously and honestly", she said that this would be the ideal working approach for authorities. However, from the legal point of view, it would be necessary to have greater assurance than these mere criteria and to formalize what weight should be given to the information contained on the register. 119. She reiterated that TN/C/W/52 fully respected the principle of territoriality because decisions to give protection to a given name as a GI would be taken only in the country where protection would be at issue. The principle of territoriality should also be applied to the issue of genericness.
The Special Session took note of the statements made.