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Archived updates for Thursday, January 12, 2006

EC Proposes New GI Procedures

On January 4, 2006, the European Commission announced that it has adopted two proposals to clarify and streamline rules for protected geographical indications (PGI), protected designations of origin (PDOs) and “traditional specialities guaranteed." The Commission is proposing to simplify procedures and clarify the role of Member States with a “single document” for applications containing all the necessary information for registration, information and inspection purposes and which will be published. In an apparant attempt to satisfy WTO requirements under TRIPS, "They will delete the requirement for reciprocity and equivalence from the regulations and they will allow third countries to apply for and object to GI registrations directly instead of going through their governments," notes Stephanie Bodoni, reporting for Managing Intellectual Property on January 9, 2006.

Also in the press release,

In a panel ruling issued in 2004, the WTO upheld the integrity of the EU’s
geographical indications system and rejected the majority of the claims made by
the United States and Australia. These regulations will bring the scheme into
conformity on the two areas that were criticised: firstly by formally deleting
the requirement for “reciprocity and equivalence” from the regulations and
secondly by allowing third country operators to submit applications and
objections directly rather than through their governments. The deadline for
implementing the ruling is set to expire in April 2006.

"However," reports Bodoni, "the WTO panel decision was not clear-cut, leaving both sides claiming victory when it was announced. The WTO panel agreed with the US and Australia that the EU's GI Regulation was inconsistent with TRIPs in that it restricted prior trade mark owners from attacking registered GIs."

More about the GI controversy here.
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