Intellectual Property in the WTO Volume II
Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Carlos M. Correa
Chapter 5: The WTO Dispute on Trademarks and Geographical Indications: Some Implications for Trade Policy-Making and Negotiations
David Vivas-Eugui and María Julia Oliva* 1. Introduction The World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute on European Communities – Protection of Trademarks and Geographical Indications for Agricultural Products and Foodstuff (EC – GIs) has captured the attention of policymakers, negotiators, academia and agricultural and food producers around the world. As a chapter in the long-standing conflict over the use and control of certain geographical names over agricultural and food stuff between European countries and what are termed the ‘new world’ countries (United States, Australia, Argentina, Chile, and South Africa, among others), both the backdrop and implications of the EC – GIs dispute extend far beyond the specific case. As a result, an analysis of the context of the case, the findings of the Panel, and the potential impact of the decision – far from an academic exercise – provide significant lessons for the ongoing implementation and negotiation of geographical indications (GIs) in the framework of the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). In the EC – GIs case, the United States and Australia challenged some aspects of the EU regulation on GIs in force at that time (EC Council Regulation No. 2081/92 of 14 July 1992) as inconsistent with the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) of 1994. At stake more generally, however, were inherently different perspectives on the objectives and characteristics of distinctive signs, which had already led to a fragile compromise and a built-in agenda for negotiations on GIs in the context...