[Ip-health] NGOs Condemn the EU Press Release on TRIPS Extension for LDCs

Sangeeta Shashikant ssangeeta at myjaring.net
Fri Jun 21 14:54:48 PDT 2013

>NGOs Condemn the EU Press Release on TRIPS Extension for LDCs
>21st June 2013
>On 11th June 2013, the WTO TRIPS Council took a decision (IP/C/64) to
>extend for a further 8 years, the flexibility of least developed country
>(LDC) Members under Article 66.1 to not apply the provisions of the
>TRIPS[1] <#_ftn1> Agreement except for Articles 3, 4 and 5 (which concern
>Treatment and most-favored nation treatment). This decision was taken in
>response to
>The ³duly motivated request² submitted by Haiti on behalf of the LDC
>Group last
>November, seeking an unconditional extension for as long as a WTO Member
>remains a LDC.  
>This decision was a compromise deal as the EU and US exerted intense
>pressure on the LDCs to accept conditionalities that are not in favour of
>the people in the
>The European Union in its press release on 11 June 2013 (³the release²),
>Welcomes the TRIPS Council Decision, but it also makes several inaccurate
>and misleading statements.
>1.  The release claims that the EU: ³From the outset of discussions has
>recognized the importance of flexibility for least developed countries
>(LDCs) and supported an extension to the transition period².
>Contrary to its claim of support, throughout months of behind-the-scenes
>negotiations, the EU consistently sought to undermine both the requested
>length of the transition period and LDCs¹ freedom to determine the level
>of IP
>protection, if any, that was optimal in light of their special
>Article 66.1 of TRIPS explicitly permits LDCs not to apply TRIPS
>provisions in recognition of their special needs and requirements, their
>economic, financial and administrative constraints and their need for
>flexibility to
>develop a viable technological base. However, throughout the
>negotiations, the EU
>prioritized accelerated TRIPS compliance over the development needs of
>LDCs. The EU persistently viewed the transition period as merely giving
>LDCs a little more time to become TRIPS compliant, irrespective of
>whether the basic
>conditions exists in LDCs to benefit from high levels of intellectual
>property protection and enforcement. Consequently the EU opposed duration
>requested by LDCs (i.e.of as long as they remain LDCs) and attempted to
>limit the policy
>space/freedom LDCs are legally entitled to under Article 66.1 of TRIPS.
>2.  The EU release also states that where LDCs
>voluntarily provide some kinds of IP protection, ³they have committed
>themselves not to reduce or withdraw the current
>protection that they give² (no-rollback). This is a disingenuous reading
>the recently adopted TRIPS Council Decision and of the negotiating
>where the EU clearly lost its efforts to secure a no-rollback clause.
>The no-rollback clause, included in the previous extension decision
>adopted in 2005,is not included in the current extension. The LDC Group
>rightly objected to its inclusion in the new decision, though the
>developed countries
>Particularly The US and the EU continued to demand it.
>As a compromise, the new decision replaces the obligatory no-rollback
>clause with a sentence whereby LDCs only ³express their determination to
>preserve and continue the progress towards implementation of the TRIPS
>Agreement". To
>remove any doubt, the decision further clarifies, that ³Nothing in this
>decision shall prevent least developed country Members from making full
>use of the flexibilities provided by the Agreement to address their needs
>Clearly, the new extension decision does not prevent LDCs from rolling
>back (i.e. reducing or withdrawing) existing IP protections (even if less
>consistent than the TRIPS Agreement), if appropriate, in their own
>judgment, to meet their
>Particular needs. This is supported by the exclusion of the previous
>no-rollback clause from the new extension decision and the reaffirmation
>of the right of LDCs to use the flexibilities provided by the TRIPS
>Agreement, which includes
>the flexibility under Article 66.1 (to not apply TRIPS provisions), which
>has been extended. Therefore, the EU¹s interpretation of the new extension
>decision is fundamentally flawed and purposefully misleading, and is just
>another attempt to undermine rights of the poorest nations granted under
>Article 66.1 of TRIPS.
>3.   The release states that: ³LDCs will not have to
>protect these patents [pharmaceutical product] until 2016², giving the
>impression that the transition period for pharmaceutical products
>Unequivocally ends by 2016.
>In 2002, the TRIPS Council Decision of 27 June
>2002 (IP/C/25) specifically exempted LDCs from applying TRIPS provisions
>patents and on undisclosed information, to pharmaceutical products, until
>2016, without prejudice to the right of LDCs to seek further extensions
>thereof. The 11 June 2013 decision text is applicable to all provisions
>of the
>TRIPS Agreement (except for Articles 3, 4 and 5). The decision does not
>prevent LDCs from
>seeking a further extension of the 2002 TRIPS Council Decision concerning
>pharmaceutical products (IP/C/25).
>In this regard we urge the LDCs Group to submit a ³duly motivated
>pursuant to Article 66.1 of the TRIPS
>Agreement to seek an unconditional extension of the 2002 TRIPS Council
>Decision concerning pharmaceutical products (IP/C/25) until a WTO member
>Graduates From the LDC status.
>In conclusion, we call on the EU to abandon its efforts to
>force LDCs to prematurely adopt stringent standards of intellectual
>Property protection and to unreservedly support any future requests by
>pursuant to Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement.
>Act Up Paris
>Asociacion Ambiente y Sociedad, Colombia
>Berne Declaration, Switzerland
>Both ENDS, The Netherlands
>Centre For Climate Change and Environmental Studies
>Center for Encounter and Active Non-Violence, Austria
>Center for Information Policy in Africa
>Coalition for Health Promotion and Social Development (HEPS), Uganda
>East African Health Platform
>Ecologistas en Acción, Spain
>Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL)
>Food Rights Alliance
>Health Action International
>Health GAP, USA
>Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre,Nigeria
>Mariam Foundation, Uganda
>Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute
>Stop AIDS Campaign, United Kingdom
>The Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), Uganda
>The Development Fund, Norway
>Third World Network
>Uganda Network on Law Ethics & HIV/AIDS
>Oxfam International
>[1] <#_ftnref1> Trade Related Aspects on Intellectual Property Rights
>which is part of
>the World Trade organisation (WTO) membership

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