[Ip-health] Fix the Patents Laws blog (SA): Argentina introduces tougher standards for patentability. South Africa should follow suit?

Thirukumaran Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Mon May 28 06:03:11 PDT 2012

Fix the Patent Laws is a campaign of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC).

For the full piece, please see:


Posted on | May 28, 2012 


This month, Argentina joined the ranks of countries making it harder to get a patent for ‘inventions’ which offer little to no real improvement over existing drugs. The detailed guidelines, issued jointly by Argentina’s patents office and health department, can be found here.[1] The guidelines instruct patent examiners to reject (with some exceptions) new use, new form, and new formulation patents,[2] and specify a number of other frivolous changes to drugs which will no longer be acceptable.

Under TRIPS, countries are free to determine for themselves criteria of novelty, inventiveness and usefulness. Argentina’s move therefore, is completely allowed under international law. And they are not alone – the patent regime of the Andean Community countries (Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) rules out new use patents, and in India, patent applications which  cannot demonstrate enhanced efficacy over existing drugs will be rejected.

But in South Africa today, the criteria for patentability are not high, and patent applications are not being checked for their inventive qualities. Our patents office operates rather as a registration office. This means that as long as an application meets administrative requirements, a patent will generally be granted unless someone opposes it (with legal opposition by the public in this country being difficult and costly).



Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)

thiru at keionline.org

Tel: +41 22 791 6727
Mobile: +41 76 508 0997

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