CCFN Participates in WIPO Listening Session on GIs; Hosts Side Seminar in Geneva

June 6th, 2017

This spring CCFN participated in a formal information session in Geneva of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the United Nations agency dealing with intellectual property protection worldwide. Despite efforts by GI proponents to silence those defending common names, CCFN was invited by WIPO to speak at the GI information session, held in conjunction with the meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT). Among the speakers from industry, government and academia, CCFN addressed the rights of common name users and the need for fair and consistent GI policies.

Not content to simply give voice to their own perspective, the Europe-based group Organization for an International Geographical Indications Network (OriGIn) sent a letter to the WIPO director general prior to the meeting objecting to WIPO’s invitation of CCFN. Despite such efforts, CCFN will continue to highlight the ways in which the EU abuses GI policies as a way to incite other countries to violate their prior trade commitments.

In fact, to dive into greater detail about the need to combat trade-restrictive threats to common product names, CCFN and its allies held a side briefing in Geneva that was attended by more than 60 WIPO member-country delegates. Speakers representing industries and government viewpoints from the U.S., Latin America and Oceania outlined the threats facing generic name users, including economic and trade impacts of unfair GI over-reach, problems with registrations under the Lisbon Agreement, and World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations.

CCFN will continue this message at the 2017 WIPO GI Symposium in China at the end of this month, stressing the negative commercial impacts on companies when common name use is gagged and market access rights are trampled. CCFN sent a letter to the WIPO Secretariat thanking WIPO for the invitation to this flagship biennial event and for its commitment to providing an open forum for discussion. [CCFN members can view the letter here, under the “Comments” section.] Through its engagement with the world’s leading intellectual property (IP) organization, CCFN will continue to champion the concerns of companies worldwide that have been forced to battle EU abuse of GI policies that disrupt trade and undermine IP principles.