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The dispute "European Communities - Protection of trademarks and geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs" that opposes the European - Union to the United States and Australia, has been raised by the European regulation concerning the protection of geographical indications. This dispute has two important issues. First, the Panel demonstrated that the European regulation did not comply with national treatment promulgated by the TRIPS and the GATT 1994 Agreements. Second, the Panel affirmed the possibility of coexistence between GIs and identical prior trademarks. This article considers these two issues and depicts the position of the parties at the end of the dispute regarding GIs' protection. The first part of this article presents the conclusion of the Panel concerning national treatment and the coexistence between GIs and prior trademark. An analysis of the relations between national treatment and the international harmonization of the rules on the protection of geographical indications is presented in the second part. This analysis permits to establish that if the Panel findings do not annihilate the European system of protection of the geographical indications, the United States will find advantageous to free ride in geographical indications, refusing to move toward the European system of protection.


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