The only officially recognised WTO intellectual property negotiations are on a register for geographical names of wines and spirits. They’ve been moribund for a decade
By Peter Ungphakorn POSTED DECEMBER 4, 2022 | UPDATED DECEMBER 5, 2022
No one noticed when these World Trade Organization negotiations passed their 25th anniversary in early 2022. It was no surprise since WTO members had not even bothered to meet in these talks for a decade, except to appoint a new chair and tidy up other administrative issues.
This is about geographical indications — names associated with specific production areas, such as Champagne wine, Scotch whisky or Caerphilly cheese.
Rather, these talks are about creating in the WTO a multilateral register for geographical indications for wines and spirits. They are the only officially recognised negotiations on intellectual property in the WTO.
And although they’ve been stuck in limbo since 2012, before that the negotiations did manage to narrow gaps between diametrically opposed positions until they could proceed no further.
The achievement is subtle but significant. The failure of WTO negotiations more broadly prevented members from taking the final steps, although that could not be guaranteed even in a better atmosphere.
The WTO has become a weapon in a war of words over other issues. For some Brexiters, it’s a deal to look forward to. For some Remainers, it’s a wreckage. For Trump, it’s “unfair”. That’s the worst possible way to get to know the trading system almost all of us rely on
By Peter Ungphakorn POSTED FEBRUARY 13, 2019 | UPDATED FEBRUARY 13, 2019
This page is based on a presentation given on February 7, 2019, introducing the basics and current issues in the World Trade Organization (WTO). It includes a link to download a handout of the presentation.
People’s views of geographical indications range from cherishing them as precious cultural heritage and commercial property, to annoyance and scorn. They are complicated. Every argument has a counter-argument
By Peter Ungphakorn POSTED MAY 5, 2018 | FIRST PUBLISHED ON UK TRADE FORUM APRIL 3, 2018 | UPDATED JANUARY 13, 2022
Among the thousands of policy questions facing Britain after it leaves the EU is what its approach should be for geographical indications.
These are names — like Melton Mowbray pork pies, Rutland bitter and Bordeaux wine — that are used to identify certain products.
The UK’s policy will affect both its own and other countries’ names, and it has now taken first steps in revealing what its approach will be.
People’s views of geographical indications range from cherishing them as precious cultural heritage and commercial property, to annoyance and scorn.
What are they? And what are the decisions facing the UK? This is an attempt to explain them simply. It’s in two main parts with a small third part tacked on.
This should bury a number of myths. The memoirs of 17 key authors of a WTO agreement plus an editor’s remarks make a unique account of a complex international negotiation almost miraculously producing a deal
International trade agreements are sometimes demonised as the Grand Plan imposed by major powers in cahoots with multinational corporations. Intellectual property rights is a particular target, as is the case currently with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and previously with the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
Watal, Jayashree and Taubman, Antony (eds),The Making of the TRIPS Agreement: Personal insights from the Uruguay Round negotiators, Geneva, World Trade Organization, 2015, pp 361 + appendixes.
Authors, and (for most) their affiliation at the time: Antony Taubman (current WTO Secretariat), Jayashree Watal (India), Adrian Otten (GATT Secretariat), Thomas Cottier(Switzerland), John Gero (Canada), Mogens Peter Carl (EU), Matthijs Geuze (GATT Secretariat), Catherine Field (US), Thu-Lang Tran Wasescha (Switzerland), Jörg Reinbothe (EU), AV Ganesan (India), Piragibe dos Santos Tarragô (Brazil), Antonio Gustavo Trombetta (Argentina), Umi KBA Majid (Malaysia), David Fitzpatrick (Hong Kong), Hannu Wager (Nordics), Jagdish Sagar (India), Adrian Macey (New Zealand), Lars Anell (Sweden, TRIPS negotiations chair)
Only three more ratifications are needed for the WTO’s first ever amendment to take effect. Or is it … FOUR?
Note: The “conundrum” was dodged on January 23, 2017 when five countries were officially announced to have ratified the amendment. The total leapt over the targeted 110 to 112. Now that the target has been reached, this blog post will no longer be updated. But the conundrum remains unresolved. More up-to-date information is availablehere.
By Peter Ungphakorn FIRST PUBLISHED BY IP-WATCH, APRIL 14, 2016
REVISED AND POSTED HERE JUNE 12, 2016 | UPDATED NOVEMBER 30, 2016