FTAA trademark negotiations under way

International

As part of the process of finalizing a treaty on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) by December 2004, the fifth round of intellectual property negotiations is now underway. Although the negotiations are scheduled to be completed by October this year, the negotiators are polarized, so consensus seems unlikely.

The following issues (among others) are being debated:

  • whether scents and sounds should be registrable as trademarks;

  • whether special protection should be granted to well-known trademarks;

  • whether member states should have the option to choose between a pre-registration opposition system and a post-registration opposition system;

  • whether rules on the cancellation of trademark registrations should be included, or whether these rules should be left to individual member states; and

  • whether the FTAA, rather than its individual member states, should be a signatory to international treaties, conventions and agreements (eg, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Madrid Protocol).

Once the treaty is finalized, signed and implemented, the FTAA is expected to comprise 34 countries: Antigua and Baruda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Wilfrido Fernandez, Zacarias & Fernández, Asunción

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