Statement by the Cuban Ambassador in Geneva on Section 211 at the WTO.
STATEMENT BY H.E. MRS. ANAYANSI RODRIGUEZ CAMEJO, AMBASSADOR, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF CUBA TO THE OFFICE OF THE UNITED NATIONS IN GENEVA AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS IN SWITZERLAND, AT THE DISPUTE SETTLEMENT BODY OF THE WTO ON SECTION 211, 25 January 2016.
After concluding 2015 we arrive to a new meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body where the situation of the US case - Section 211 of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1998, has not changed.
Since February 2, 2002 when the resolutions and recommendations were adopted on this dispute, it has taken up almost 14 years, to date, failing to comply with the rules of this Organization. It is a number that far exceeds the target time of 15 months as the reasonable period defined when the arbitration is used under section 21.3 (c) of the Understanding on the rules and procedures which govern the dispute settlement (DSU).
The latest progress report submitted by the United States on this dispute remains virtually unchanged with respect to the previous ones. We have taken due note of the oral presentation made at this meeting by the US delegation.
After the Tenth Ministerial Conference, the Members will face great challenges in order to assert the commitment to continue with the system of rules that make up the WTO and, much more, to achieve a fair balance in the negotiations and in the future work, allowing to reaffirm the intrinsic value and the maximum effectiveness of the World Trade Organization.
The Ministerial Declaration adopted at Nairobi by all Members, barely a month ago, emphasizes in paragraph 13 the following, and I quote, "... we therefore commit to pursue and renew efforts to address current challenges and to further strengthen the system, including through effective implementation of the rulings and recommendations of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB).”
It is urgent that we begin to act in a manner consistent with the rules of the multilateral trading system, particularly with regard to Article 21.1 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding which qualifies as "essential the prompt compliance of the recommendations to ensure the effective resolution of disputes to the benefit of all Members."
The restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba is a positive step, but in more than one year since the December 17, 2014 nothing has changed in the regulations on intellectual property applied by the United States to Cuba, as it happens in most of the policies that make up the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed against our country, which should be lifted immediately and unconditionally.
Cuba recognizes that the renewal of the registration of the trademark of the CUBAEXPORT company by the Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO for its acronym in English), is a just and positive step of the US administration as it is the recognition of the rights of the Cuban company as the owner of the trademark. However, it should be noted that while Section 211 remains in effect, it prevents the recognition by the US courts of Cuban trademarks and patents and thus, under this law, the possibility that the registration be canceled at any time by the decision of a US court continues latent. In fact, the District Court of Columbia could rule in favor of cancellation under this law in the lawsuit initiated by Bacardi in 2004 with the aim of achieving the cancellation of the registration of the Havana Club trademark and its recognition as owner of the same. This process was stopped since 2006 pending an action by the USPTO. From this event and the recent statement of Bacardi, it is assumed that this process is reactivated.
While Section 211 remains in force, Cuba will continue to demand its repeal for being a permanent violation of the TRIPS Agreement and the resolutions of this body, which declared it incompatible with the fundamental rules and principles of the WTO.
Cuba formally requests to reject the request made at this meeting by the European Union, since the object of the dispute, Section 211, is still in force, without any change, which means that the resolutions adopted by the DSB, that is, by all WTO Members in relation to this Act, remain unfulfilled, hence the monitoring of the implementation of such resolutions must be kept on the agenda of their meetings, as provided for in Article 21.6 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding. Therefore, I reiterate the formal request that the matter be kept on the monthly agenda of the DSB.