U.S. and Philippines Affirm Positive, Mutual Approach to GIs

November 27th, 2018

The United States and Philippines announced in October recent achievements resolving certain bilateral trade issues under their bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Among these was a common approach to handling GI applications in a fair, transparent manner that respects common name users.

U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert E. Lighthizer said in the U.S. statement, “The United States notes that the Philippines is continuing to protect geographical indications (GIs) in a manner mutually beneficial to both countries by ensuring transparency, due process, and fairness in the laws, regulations, and practices that provide for the protection of GIs, including by respecting prior trademark rights and not restricting the use of common names.”

He further noted that the United States “welcomes the commitment of the Philippines to further discuss ways to ensure that Philippine laws, regulations, and policies do not restrict or prohibit entry of U.S. products in the Philippine market. The Philippines confirms to the United States that it will not provide automatic GI protection, including to terms exchanged as part of a trade agreement.”

CCFN has been working for some time with Lighthizer’s team at the Office of the USTR and with officials and industry leaders in the Philippines, to continually articulate the need to consider generic terms as an integral part in the GI applications process. This has included the submission of detailed CCFN comments on the Philippines’ draft GI regulations, participation in a hearing on those proposed rules and a workshop focused on GI matters, as well as additional engagement over the past few years. The full U.S. statement can be read here.