This Week's Other Stories:

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Pondering A Federal Order For California

LEAD STORY: USDA Undertaking Regulatory Review Of Federal Order Program

OTHER NEWS: Ireland’s Dairy Industry, Government Planning $40 Million Investment In Dairy Innovation

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Key Congressional Leaders Question Possible Common Name Policy Changes By UN Agency

Three US dairy organizations on Thursday applauded key congressional leaders for questioning the way a United Nations agency is considering treaty changes that could erode established trademark rights and impair the ability of companies around the world, including in the US, to use numerous generic cheese names in export markets.

The eight congressional leaders, in a letter to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), expressed “serious concerns” about the process by which the WIPO is seeking to make changes to the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin. The letter was signed by the chairmen and top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, Senate Judiciary Committee, House Ways and Means Committee and House Judiciary Committee.

“These proposed changes would have a significant impact on companies across the globe whose business depends on the use of common or generic names or on the integrity of established trademarks,” the lawmakers wrote. “Consistent with longstanding WIPO practice, and in the interests of transparency and basic procedural fairness, these changes must be carefully vetted by all members of WIPO before proceeding further.”

The WIPO-administered treaty allows parties to the agreement to simultaneously register Appellations of Origin with all parties to the Lisbon Agreement. The revision to this treaty “would markedly expand its scope, allowing for the registration of geographical indications,” the lawmakers noted.

“Unfortunately, the views of all WIPO members are not being adequately taken into account in the Lisbon Agreement revision process, even though the proposed changes will have substantial consequences for many of the countries that have been excluded, including the United States,” the lawmakers stated. The revisions are scheduled to be taken up for consideration and approval at this year’s Diplomatic Conference, but contrary to the common WIPO protocol, non-parties to the Lisbon Agreement are currently not permitted to fully participate.

“The full participation of all WIPO members in the creation and substantial revision of treaties is essential to WIPO’s Send me more information.