The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USEC) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) jointly thanked the U.S. delegation to the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Diplomatic Conference on the Lisbon Agreement for calling attention to the treaty changes that could impair the ability of companies worldwide to use generic food terms in export markets.
The three organizations urged the U.S. Trade Representative to evaluate the degree to which countries’ actions under the agreement are likely to violate World Trade Organization obligations and called on Congress to examine the deeply troubling side-lining of a majority of WIPO members in the development of an agreement with global ramifications. Geographical indications limit who can use certain product terms or names to those in a particular geographic area.
During the two-week diplomatic conference in Geneva, the United States led a 12-nation coalition in opposing the Lisbon Agreement changes and in urging equal participation rights for all WIPO members in considering the changes. In a radical departure from multiple precedents, WIPO chose to permit Lisbon Agreement members to deny meaningful participation to the majority of WIPO members.
“The treaty and its proposed changes are clearly aimed at preventing competitors such as dairy producers and processors in the United States and other non-European countries from using names in international trade that they have used for decades,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “We appreciate and commend the extensive work the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, along with the departments of State and Agriculture, have put into opposing these changes and in decrying WIPO’s refusal to allow all members to have a full say in the outcome of this agreement.”