WASHINGTON, D.C. - Statement from Chairman Bob Goodlatte regarding a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel decision issued today siding with the U.S. in its case against the European Union regarding geographic food names known as "geographical indications." The panel's decision found that the European Union (EU) regulation discriminates against U.S. products and producers and is therefore contrary to WTO rules and that Europe, could not, consistent with WTO rules, deny U.S. trademark owners their rights:
"I would like to congratulate former U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Zoellick for his hard work in negotiations that yielded the WTO panel's decision in our favor. I am very pleased with the WTO panel's decision regarding geographical indications. This decision is good news for U.S. producers. American producers pride themselves in providing high quality agricultural products to the global community; however, when other countries fail to recognize products with geographical indications such as Idaho potatoes or Vidalia onions, they deny U.S. producers full access to their markets.
In recent discussions with EU officials, I, along with Members of the House Committee on Agriculture, voiced concern over the unequal treatment of U.S. trademark rights especially in regard to geographical indications. We hope that this will expedite significant changes in the EU's geographical indications regulation to honor the rights of U.S. trademarks and products. It is now time for the EU to comply with the Trade -Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement and make it possible for U.S. agriculture producers to register geographic indications in the EU, something that European producers have been able to do in the U.S. since the agreement was reached."