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

Ambassador Eui-yong Chung (Korea)
European Union
C.3.a Participation
30. The representative of the European Communities said that the delegation of Argentina had misinterpreted his comment concerning the administration of the multilateral system by national authorities. He had not proposed that the system should be managed by national administrations in a rotational way. Rather, he had pointed out that Article 23.4 did not preclude that possibility. His delegation did not say that administration by national authorities was preferable or more advantageous. Regarding Argentina's statement that the exceptions under the TRIPS Agreement would be available after registration under the Lisbon Agreement at WIPO, i.e., that they could be invoked before national courts, he said that this interpretation was not correct. Article 6 of the Lisbon Agreement indicated, for instance, that once a name was registered, it could no longer become generic; under that agreement, some exceptions as those under the TRIPS Agreement did not remain available once a GI was registered. He further added that the EC had not proposed that exceptions like prior trademarks or prior use would have to be phased out in any way as a result of registration; these exceptions could be freely invoked at the national level at any time before national or international registration. With regard to the statement made by the Swiss delegation on protection under Section 3, Part II of the TRIPS Agreement, he said that the comment was relevant. Protection under the entire Section 3 on geographical indications was a multilateral protection that was supposed to be available to all WTO Members and the register should not create any new obligations. It seemed logical that Members should have no problem in agreeing to a system that concerned all Members of the WTO. With regard to the point made by the representative of the United States, he wondered what the reaction would be if a multilateral system of certification marks was proposed. As was well known by the United States, the European system for the protection of certification marks was open to absolutely everyone. He pointed out that during the Uruguay Round negotiators had known, when drafting the provisions of Article 23.4, that the proposed system would not entail a meaningless database, which would not help or benefit anyone. While his delegation could understand that some Members might not have trade interests in a multilateral register, it held the view that it was necessary to avoid negotiating a system that had no impact on real life. Lastly, he reiterated that his delegation interpreted the term "multilateral" within the WTO context as meaning a multilateral forum for discussions and negotiations - the TRIPS Council - in which every Member was entitled to participate. Any decision taken in that body would bind all Members, including those that had not made interventions.