Archive for May, 2011
Articles 22-24 of TRIPS provide protection for Gis. However, beyond protection for confusing or deceptive GIs (akin to the protection of trademarks), there is only higher protection for wines and spirits, and an agreement to negotiate a possible registration and/or notification system for wine-related indications, a mandate extended to spirits in the Doha Declaration. A higher level of protection of protection is provided in the 1958 Lisbon Agreement, but that Agreement has not been popular among “New World” countries especially the United States.
The issue is on the agenda at the WTO and their notification proposal is available here.
But now it is also part of the (not very public) negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an ACTA-Plus effort to update not just enforcement but also substantive TRIPS rules. See Jimmy Koo’s take on it here.
It is hard to discuss this issue on the merits. Lobbying by major users of Old World marks outside of their GI context, from Kraft to Budweiser, on the US side, and similarly heavy efforts by the wine, spirits and cheese industries in Europe have made finding compromise difficult. A detailed analysis of the Lisbon system and possible updates to it (see here) shows that the issue is much smaller and easier to solve than it seems and, much like the Wine Pact, a list of exceptions could deal with the few major issues. Lisbon, like the Madrid system for trademarks, could be adapted to meet worldwide needs, a system that would use existing expertise on GIs in the Lisbon context and avoid creates a new notification-only system at the WTO with undetermined legal effect.