Edited by Dev S. Gangjee
Chapter 6: Geographical Indications under TRIPS
The TRIPS Agreement signed in April 1994 imposed on all Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) (a) an obligation to protect Geographical Indications (GIs) against deceptive uses, and (b) an obligation to protect GIs used in connection with wines and spirits at a higher level. In addition, TRIPS Art 23.4 foresees the establishment of a multilateral register for GIs on wines (not spirits) and mandates negotiations to that end, a part of the Agreement’s ‘built-in agenda’. Despite the seemingly arcane character of this debate, it is far from a minor issue. Billions of trade dollars are at stake. Not surprisingly, it has taken centre-stage in the Doha Round. Indeed, the establishment of a multilateral register and/or notification system of GIs as foreseen in TRIPS was portrayed as an essential ingredient of a successful outcome in the (ongoing) Doha Round. In an effort to move the international registration debate forward, a detailed set of proposals by WTO members was consolidated into a composite draft text by the Secretariat in April 2011. In the more recent past, it was one of the obstacles to completing negotiations on the Transpacific Partnership (TPP). It may be even harder to solve in the context of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union and the United States.
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