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U.S. Opening Statement for the Adoption of a Revised Lisbon Agreement
November 3, 2014

United States of America Opening Statement, Delivered by Ambassador Hamamoto

 Preparatory Committee of the Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of a Revised Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications 

 At the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

October 30, 2014 in Geneva 


Mr. Chair,

The United States strongly supports the statement made by the delegation of Israel on behalf of the co-sponsors of the proposal to amend the “Draft Rules of Procedure of the Diplomatic Conference (LI/R/PM/5/REV.2) to provide that “Member Delegations” are the delegations of all WIPO member states and thereby affirm the policy of broad and inclusive multilateralism at WIPO.

In our view, this diplomatic conference presents a historic opportunity to develop a broad multilateral agreement that reflects the shared objective of WIPO Members to provide appropriate protections for geographical indications, while accommodating the diverse approaches in our various national systems.

We should not miss this opportunity.  Without full transparency and equal participation by all member states, true success will remain elusive. The United States is committed to engaging constructively in negotiations so as to find a solution that works for all.  But, we all need to have seats at the table in order to do so. Let us be very clear – the current rules do not even allow non-Lisbon members to be in the room where negotiations take place.

There are many reasons why an open diplomatic conference is critical for the success of these negotiations as well as the legitimacy of any outcome.

As a fundamental matter, the revised Lisbon Agreement is much more than a mere technical revision. The proposed text will add a significant new subject matter — geographical indications (GIs).

Therefore, the normal WIPO rules of procedure for new treaties should apply, meaning that all member states participate equally in the negotiations.

This is particularly appropriate because all member states have an interest in any international norms in this area, especially given the significant commercial and trade implications for each of us.  Many countries are troubled by the potential impact on the use of common terms and existing trademarks.  The lack of financial sustainability of the Lisbon system is also a serious and legitimate concern.

The current Lisbon Union members – less than a quarter of the WIPO membership – should not be allowed to dictate an outcome that will inevitably affect all of us.

We’ve heard a lot today regarding technical legal arguments.  As the honorable Ambassador from Australia has pointed out, however, there is nothing in the legal rules that prevents Lisbon members from opening the diplomatic conference to full participation.  And the fact remains that a closed diplomatic conference is a fundamental departure from the practice of this organization over the course of the last 25 years. This practice has been followed for good reason: open diplomatic conferences allow all WIPO member states to ensure that their interests are advanced, and their concerns are considered, during the development and adoption of new international norms.

The United States urges that we affirm WIPO’s long-held principle of broad and inclusive multilateralism by simply amending the Draft Rules of Procedure to provide that “Member Delegations” are the delegations of all WIPO member states.  We all have an interest in GIs, therefore, we all should have a say.

We are confident that if we work together, we can reach our shared objectives and accommodate our differences.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.