Reinventing Lisbon: The Case for a Protocol to the Lisbon Agreement (Geographical Indications)
Gervais, Daniel J.
The Doha Development Agenda (Doha Round) of multilateral trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) may fail unless a solution to the establishment of a multilateral register for geographical indications on wines and spirits (GIs) foreseen in the TRIPS Agreement is found. Failure of the Doha Round would entail serious intended and unintended consequences for the world trading system. Europe’s insistence on a Doha deal on GIs in now accompanied by demands from several developing countries for an extension of GI protection to products other than wines and spirits. Those demanders consider the current emphasis on alcoholic beverages to be both culturally discriminatory and a commercial impediment to the ability to collect the potential additional rents associated with GIs on various products (coffee, tea, cocoa, textiles, etc.). They argue that international GI protection would support their rural and traditional products, which in turn would lead to “development form within,” a development strategy that prioritizes local autonomy and broad, community-wide development goals. The GI issue has direct implications for future global food consumption patterns. As such, GIs have environmental significance and form an increasingly relevant part of global agricultural and food policy discussions. In spite of their importance in the Doha Round, negotiations on the establishment of a GI register and its possible extension beyond wines and spirits at the WTO have been at an impasse for several years. This Article is an attempt to move the discussions, and the Doha Round, forward. My focus is on the establishment of the TRIPS GI register and is relationship with the 1958 Lisbon Agreement and its register for “appellations of origin.” My suggestion is that the Lisbon register offers the best substrate to establish the TRIPS register, with or without an extension to products other than wines and spirits. Real or perceived Lisbon deficiencies could be handled appropriately by adopting a protocol to the Lisbon Agreement. After an examination of differences between the Lisbon and TRIPS Agreements, and the Compatibility of a GI register with US trade practices, the Article provides a detailed strategy to achieve a protocol to the Lisbon system functioning as the TRIPS register.