WTO News Item, 2 October 2003
On 2 October 2003, the Dispute Settlement Body agreed to established a panel to examine European Community rules on the protection of trademarks and geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs. The United States and Australia requested the panel.
The US and Australia first requested a panel on 29 August 2003. Presenting their second request, the United States and Australia mentioned their serious concerns about the discriminatory nature of the EC regulation.
The US complained that the regulation did not allow the registration of non-EC geographical indications unless the geographical indication was from a country that offered geographical indication protection that was equivalent to that of the EC.
Australia argued that the EC regime was inconsistent with existing WTO rules prohibiting discriminatory treatment, did not give due protection to trademarks, and was overly complex and prescriptive.
The EC said that its regulation was fully compatible with WTO rules. The DSB established a single panel and the following countries requested to be third parties: Australia, United States, Mexico, New Zealand, Guatemala, India, Chinese Taipei, Turkey and Colombia.