46. The representative of Mexico, in addition to the comments she had already made during the informal consultations, wished to explain Mexico's understanding of the nature of the Council's work in relation to a multilateral system of notification and registration for geographical indications. The mandate for the work was contained in Article 23.4 in respect of wines and in the Singapore Ministerial Declaration in respect of spirits. Taking the wording of Article 23.4, the purpose of the system should be to facilitate the protection of geographical indications. This purpose implied establishing means to identify and make public in a transparent manner those geographical indications which Members were already obliged to protect in pursuance of the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement. The system should not in any way touch on the rights and obligations established in the Agreement; the function of the register would simply be to facilitate, through more transparent and agile procedures, the protection of geographical indications as set out in the Agreement. The value added as a result of such procedures would be consistent with the requirement to grant additional protection to geographical indications for wines and spirits in conformity with Article 23 itself. Mexico agreed that the system should be voluntary in nature, and it should be open to all Members wishing to participate in such a system. This meant, in her delegation's view, that Members were not obliged to register geographical indications in order for these to get the protection in other Members, since the obligation to grant protection derived from the provisions of the Agreement, not from the register itself. Protection in accordance with these provisions should be introduced in the different systems used by Members themselves, recognizing that it was up to each Member to afford the protection to geographical indications for wines and spirits according to its own domestic legislation, provided this was in conformity with the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement. Geographical indications which would be eligible for protection under the TRIPS Agreement should, therefore, be eligible for inclusion in the multilateral register and the system to be established should provide a procedure to ensure that only those geographical indications which fully met the conditions for protection established in the Agreement would be registered.
47. In order to illustrate and better understand the way in which the register should operate, she described a dark room in which there were a few people wearing a red hat and others wearing a green hat. The red hatted people would represent geographical indications that met the conditions established in the Agreement and, therefore, had the right to protection under the Agreement, whereas those wearing a green hat did not meet the conditions or requirements for such protection. This was the situation in which Members found themselves at present. In this dark room, there were geographical indications which, under the conditions of the Agreement, deserved protection and others which did not, but it was not known which were which. The establishment of a multilateral register would be a way of lighting up this dark room, enabling Members to see who were wearing a green hat and who were wearing a red hat. Lighting up the room would facilitate the protection of the red-hatted people because Members would be able to identify them clearly and, thus, the provisions of Article 23.4 would be met. This would not involve the creation of any new rights or obligations because those wearing red hats already had the right to be protected before they went into this dark room and it was quite clear that a green-hatted person could not suddenly change to a red-hatted person simply because the light went on in this dark room. The system would be voluntary, because only those who wanted to walk into this room would participate in the system. To sum up, the multilateral registration system would enable Members to shed light on the situation in which they all found themselves, allowing Members to accord the required protection for geographical indications. Mexico believed that while the system should not increase obligations, neither should it in any way diminish or limit the rights already acquired under the Agreement. A multilateral notification and registration system which did not facilitate the effective protection of geographical indications for wines and spirits would not meet the mandate that the Council had. In Mexico's view, any system or scheme which would be limited to the simple collection of information on a database would not fulfil the purpose of Article 23.4. Mexico looked forward to participating in future discussions and was interested to see the proposal which had been announced by the European Communities on this subject.