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An analysis of the European Communities: Protection of Trademarks and Geographical Indications for Agricultural Products and Foodstuffs Dispute

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The dispute European Communities—Protection of trademarks and geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs, which opposes the European Union with the United States and Australia, has been raised by the European regulation concerning the protection of geographical indications (GIs). This dispute has two important issues. First, the Panel has demonstrated that the European Regulation does not comply with national treatment promulgated by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994. Second, the Panel affirmed the possibility of some coexistence between GIs and identical prior trademarks. This article considers these issues and describes the positions of the parties at the end of the dispute over protection of GIs. The first part discusses the Panel's conclusions on national treatment and the coexistence of GIs and prior trademarks. The second part provides an analysis of the relationship between national treatment and international harmonization of the rules on the protection of GIs. This shows that if the Panel findings do not annihilate the European system of protection of GIs, the United States will find it advantageous to free ride and resist any move towards the European system of protection.
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Keywords: TRIPS Agreement; geographical indications; intellectual property; national treatment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Nice—Sophia Antipolis and GREDEG/CNRS 2: GRÉDEG/CNRS

Publication date: 01 July 2007

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