IP News in Brief

1 November 2007

  • Frustrated by both the increase in counterfeit products and the continued deadlock on enforcement-related issues in the WTO’s Council for Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (see page 9), eight countries have entered into preliminary discussions on a plurilateral anti-counterfeiting trade agreement, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab announced in October.

She said that Canada, the EU, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland and the US had already agreed a blueprint for the negotiations, which are to focus on stronger laws, closer cross-border co-operation in law enforcement, and the adoption of practices that make IPR protection “real and effective, such as encouraging consultations with right-holders and specialisation in the IP law enforcement system.”

The pact will be negotiated independently from any international frameworks, such as the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) or the WTO. While no formal deadline has been set for concluding the negotiations, the US government is eager to move ahead as fast as possible.

  • On 24 October, the European Parliament at long last endorsed an amendment to WTO intellectual property rules aimed at easing poor countries’ access to essential medicines (Bridges Year 11 No.6 page 20).

The parliamentary approval followed a statement from the EU’s Portuguese presidency promising member governments’ support for the use of TRIPS flexibilities, and an assurance that the EU was not asking “and does not foresee asking, to negotiate pharmaceutical- related provisions (sometimes referred to as TRIPS-plus provisions), affecting public health and access to medicines,” either in its ongoing economic partnership agreement negotiations with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, or in future accords with poor developing countries and LDCs.

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