Actas - Consejo de los ADPIC - Ver detalles de la intervención/declaración

Ambassador Carlos Pérez del Castillo (Uruguay)
59. The representative of Australia said that her delegation continued to favour the approach outlined in the US/Japanese proposal for reasons similar to those already outlined by other delegations: it was voluntary, it was not burdensome, it genuinely facilitated the protection of geographical indications at the level that was currently required by the TRIPS Agreement. Her delegation saw a real benefit in the kind of proposal that Japan and the United States had put forward and considered the information that geographical indications conveyed, as well as anything else that could be put on a label, especially for industry, to be genuinely trade-facilitating. There seemed to be some confusion in the Council between two issues which, like the European Communities and their member States, her delegation saw as quite separate: on the one hand there was the question of the type of register to be agreed upon, and on the other hand there was the question of the product coverage of that register. The question of coverage could best be dealt with separately. There were a number of issues involved: there was clearly a mandate for wines, differing views existed regarding a mandate for spirits, and there was clearly no mandate for other products, as the representative of the European Communities had acknowledged. In her delegation's view, extending the product coverage would require a change to the TRIPS Agreement and could, if delegations so wished, be put on the table for consideration in future negotiations. However, at present, the main task of the Council was the consideration of the type of register to be agreed upon. Her delegation believed that any such register should be based on the current mandate, should be workable and inexpensive for all Members, and it should be in line with current obligations, without creating any new obligations or undermining existing obligations. Her delegation remained concerned that the EC proposal altered existing obligations in a number of ways. Firstly, current TRIPS obligations required Members to provide the legal means to protect geographical indications, but did not specify any specific terms that had to be protected. This was a matter currently decided in Members' domestic jurisdictions. Members currently had differing views on whether specific terms qualified as geographical indications, were semi-generic or were generic. It seemed that the possible effect of the EC proposal would be to take the choice of treatment of specific terms out of the domestic jurisdiction of Members and place it in a system where the onus was reversed, so that, once on the register, a term must be protected by Members unless an objection were made in a certain period of time. Bearing in mind the very large number of terms involved, her delegation had some concerns about how exactly Members would be able to cope with lodging what could be very labour-intensive objections, within the set period of time. One effect of this model would be that those Members who had the least resources to lodge appeals against numerous individual terms would be those most likely to end up having to protect them, and that those same Members were likely to be those who were also least well-equipped to protect a large number of specific terms. Secondly, she noted a certain tension in the EC proposal between the voluntary nature of the register, clearly stipulated, and the meaning it attached to the notion "multilateral". Further, the proposal lacked some clarity as to what objections should be based upon. For example, the current provisions in Section 3 of Part II of the Agreement relating to trademarks were not reflected in the current EC proposal. She expressed her delegation's interest in knowing how, in practice or in detail, objections could be compared given the different systems that Members had. Thirdly, her delegation also had a concern regarding possible disputes. Members were currently open to challenge, or dispute settlement proceedings, if they were not providing the legal means required by the TRIPS Agreement. Would the effect of the system proposed by the EC be that specific terms would be "codified", making Member governments open to challenges for failing to protect a specific term. There were two related issues. First, it would presumably not be a permissible defence for a Member to argue that a particular term was not a geographical indication if an objection had not been lodged within the one year time-frame. Second, there was a difference between systems where geographical indications were protected or asserted more as an individual right and those where they were protected by the state. Her delegation shared the concerns raised by other Members at previous meetings regarding the relationship between the proposed system and the existing dispute settlement requirements and also wished to flag concerns relating to the TRIPS obligations to grant national treatment and most-favoured-nation treatment. In conclusion, her delegation remained concerned that the EC had proposed a system that would seem to add considerably to the work of both Members and the Secretariat and that, despite being burdensome, labour-intensive and potentially expensive, was still imprecise. For those reasons, her delegation was inclined to follow a model which it believed achieved the aims of being genuinely facilitative of protection, but did not raise problematic issues of additional burdens on Members in terms of the kind of protection that they must provide to specific geographical indications or terms.