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

Ambassador Eui-yong Chung (Korea, Republic of)
C.ii.ii Costs
75. The representative of Switzerland said that it went without saying that the establishment of a registration and notification system would generate costs, be it a register or a simple database. However, these costs had to be evaluated in relation to the advantages afforded by the system. For Switzerland, only a system with legal effect for WTO Members would be a really useful tool and would fulfil the requirements of Article 23.4. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of the phase of examination which followed notification. Indeed, this phase made it possible for Members to collect information on geographical indications that had been notified before making formal opposition, which would reduce the number of disputes. Finally, he recalled that it would be up to each Member to determine which geographical indications they wished to notify. To create a system of arbitration might, at first sight, seem a source of additional cost; on the contrary, it should be considered as an "investment" guaranteeing that Members would not undergo negotiations which would last for years. It was most important to see that the procedure for registration be simple while respecting a certain degree of formalism and some rigour, in order to achieve a two-fold objective: on one hand, to make it possible for a maximum number of Members to decide to use this valuable tool through the notification of their GIs, without being deterred by formal requirements and excessive costs; and on the other hand, to ensure that the registration of GIs respect some minimum formal requirements so that the register became a truly useful tool to facilitate the protection of GIs as provided under Article 24.3 of the TRIPS Agreement. Last but not least, who would actually pay for the system and bear the financial costs? One solution would be to determine fees on the basis of the number of notifications made, which was the solution retained by the Lisbon Agreement. It would be rather logical for the Members using the system and benefiting from its advantages to bear the cost. In that event, Members would, of course, be free to determine at the national level who would bear the fees, governments or producers; this would depend on the system of protection chosen. With a view to ensuring a participation as broad as possible in the system, it would be necessary to seek solutions so that these fees did not prevent certain Members from notifying their GIs. One could, for example, imagine financing for these Members through technical cooperation programmes or for certain requests to be free of charge.