Celia Ler­man’s ar­ti­cle, “EU-Mer­co­sur Trade Agree­ment In­creas­es Pro­tec­tion for Trade­marks and Ge­o­graph­i­cal In­di­ca­tions” was just pub­lished in the IN­TA Bul­letin (Sep­tem­ber 15, 2019 Vol. 74 No. 16). En­joy read­ing it be­low.

Con­trib­u­tor: Celia Ler­man, Ler­man & Szlak, Buenos Aires, Ar­genti­na
Emerg­ing Is­sues Com­mit­tee, AI and De­ci­sions by Ma­chines Sub­com­mit­tee

Ver­ifer: Ri­ta Colom­bo, Mi­trani, Ca­ballero & Ruiz Moreno, Buenos Aires, Ar­genti­na

Af­ter 20 years of ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween re­gion­al blocks, the prin­ci­ples of the EU-Mer­co­sur Trade Agree­ment (Agree­ment) were con­clud­ed on June 28, 2019. The Eu­ro­pean Union (rep­re­sent­ing its 28 mem­bers, in­clud­ing the Unit­ed King­dom) and Mer­co­sur (Ar­genti­na, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay) have reached a draft text that in­cludes these ben­e­fits: the elim­i­na­tion of more than 90 per­cent of cus­toms du­ties for trade on cer­tain prod­ucts; high­er stan­dards on food safe­ty, an­i­mal health, and plant health; high­er goals for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment; open trade in ser­vices and es­tab­lish­ment; and rules on e‑commerce and da­ta pro­tec­tion, among oth­er com­mer­cial ben­e­fits.

Re­gard­ing in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty (IP) rights, the prin­ci­ples ad­dress pro­vi­sions on copy­right, in­dus­tri­al de­signs, plant va­ri­eties, trade­marks, patents, and ge­o­graph­i­cal in­di­ca­tions (GIs). They al­so tack­le the pro­tec­tion of trade se­crets, rules on civ­il and ad­min­is­tra­tive rights, and bor­der en­force­ment of these rights. Ad­di­tion­al­ly, they in­clude pro­vi­sions on tech­no­log­i­cal and in­for­ma­tion man­age­ment pro­tec­tion mea­sures.

On trade­marks, the prin­ci­ples of the Agree­ment in­clude an im­por­tant ref­er­ence to both the Madrid Pro­to­col for the in­ter­na­tion­al reg­is­tra­tion of trade­marks (which was re­cent­ly rat­i­fied and will en­ter in­to force in Brazil on Oc­to­ber 2, 2019, and the Nice Agree­ment con­cern­ing the in­ter­na­tion­al clas­si­fi­ca­tion of goods and ser­vices. The draft text al­so refers the par­ties to make rea­son­able ef­forts to ac­cede to the Sin­ga­pore Treaty on the Law of Trade­marks.

The Agree­ment as­pires to grant min­i­mum lev­els of pro­tec­tion with ar­ti­cles re­lat­ing to reg­is­tra­tion pro­ce­dure, to the rights con­ferred to the trade­mark hold­er, and to the in­val­i­da­tion of trade­mark ap­pli­ca­tions sub­mit­ted in bad faith. It is im­por­tant to note that Mer­co­sur mem­bers do not share a com­mon trade­mark reg­is­tra­tion pro­ce­dure or any equiv­a­lent of the Eu­ro­pean Union In­tel­lec­tu­al Prop­er­ty Of­fice.

On GIs, Mer­co­sur has com­mit­ted to pro­tect 335 Eu­ro­pean GI names for bev­er­ages and food prod­ucts, and the EU will al­so pro­tect 220 of Mercosur’s GIs in its ter­ri­to­ry. As a con­se­quence, the use of a GI for goods which do not have that ge­o­graph­ic ori­gin will be pro­hib­it­ed, and ex­pres­sions such as “kind,” “type,” “style,” “im­i­ta­tion,” and the like will not be al­lowed. Fur­ther­more, the Agree­ment pro­tects GIs from the mis­lead­ing use of sym­bols, flags, or im­ages sug­gest­ing a “false” ge­o­graph­i­cal ori­gin.

Oth­er treaty ref­er­ences made on the EU’s pro­posed “Chap­ter on In­tel­lec­tu­al Prop­er­ty Rights” in­clude com­pli­ance with the World In­tel­lec­tu­al Prop­er­ty Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WIPO) Copy­right Treaty, the WIPO Per­for­mances and Phono­grams Treaty, the Gene­va Act of the Hague Agree­ment on the in­ter­na­tion­al reg­is­tra­tion of in­dus­tri­al de­signs, the Nice Agree­ment con­cern­ing the in­ter­na­tion­al clas­si­fi­ca­tion of goods and ser­vices for the pur­pos­es of the reg­is­tra­tion of marks, the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Agree­ment on Trade-Re­lat­ed As­pects of In­tel­lec­tu­al Prop­er­ty Rights (the TRIPS Agree­ment), the In­ter­na­tion­al Union for the Pro­tec­tion of New Va­ri­eties of Plants (UP­OV), and the Patent Co­op­er­a­tion Treaty (PCT) (en­cour­ag­ing non-mem­ber coun­tries Ar­genti­na, Paraguay, and Uruguay to join the PCT in or­der to ac­cel­er­ate their patent ap­pli­ca­tion process and en­hance its le­gal cer­tain­ty).

The prin­ci­ples of the Agree­ment aim to bal­ance the in­ter­ests of both re­gions, and to ad­vance their progress with IP rights pro­tec­tion as a fun­da­men­tal pil­lar. Fi­nal ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the blocks will de­ter­mine the de­fin­i­tive im­pact of the Agree­ment on each party’s mem­bers’ leg­isla­tive frame­works.

Al­though every ef­fort has been made to ver­i­fy the ac­cu­ra­cy of items in the IN­TA Bul­letin, read­ers are urged to check in­de­pen­dent­ly on mat­ters of spe­cif­ic con­cern or in­ter­est. Law & Prac­tice up­dates are pub­lished with­out com­ment from IN­TA ex­cept where it has tak­en an of­fi­cial po­si­tion.