[Ip-health] MSF response to European Parliament proposals of EU enforcement of European trademarks on goods in transit

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Mon Feb 24 02:20:09 PST 2014

*MSF response to European Parliament proposals of EU enforcement of
European trademarks on goods in transit*

Médecins Sans Frontières is deeply concerned about the position taken by
the European Parliament allowing European Union enforcement of European
trademarks on goods in transit, including on generic medicines. MSF is very
disappointed to see the EU Parliament follow the lead of the EU Commission
in favouring intellectual property rights holders. The seizure and
detention of generic medicines in transit can lead to harmful delays for
people who need access to life-saving medicines. In addition, the detention
and risk of destruction of medicines in transit can have a chilling effect
on trade in generic medicines, and increase costs for generic manufacturers
and suppliers or treatment providers such as MSF.

MSF is aware of at least 20 seizures of legitimate generic medicines in
transit through Europe that were on their way to patients in developing

A broad definition of trademark infringement, coupled with a focus on
in-transit products, will lead to seizures of legitimate generic medicines.
This is beyond the enforcement obligation required under the TRIPS
Agreement, which clearly states that goods in transit to another country
should be exempted. Although such rules are proposed only under the EU
framework, its far-reaching impact on rights of other developing countries
to export and import legitimate generic medicines should not be overlooked.

Instituting this enforcement policy without meaningful safeguards against
over-enforcement and abuse by rights holders will lead to barriers to
movement of generic medicines. The EU already has one of the most stringent
and rights-holder-friendly customs enforcement regimes in the world; this
addition unnecessarily enforces that position.


"If the EU decides to strengthen in-transit scrutiny of legitimate generic
medicines under the banner of trademark infringement, it will create new
barriers to the flow of generic medicines that are on their way to patients
who need them. If this measure is adopted, it will show that the European
Parliament favours the interests of intellectual property rights holders
over public health interests, and will send the message that the EU is a
'no-go' zone for generic medicines intended for poor countries.

"If this position is made EU policy, it could drastically change how
quickly and effectively MSF can deliver medicines to patients in need,
because these medicines could end up being either seized or delayed while
in transit through Europe."

"MSF strongly urges European Union Member States to stand strong against
both the Parliament and the Commission in upcoming negotiations, to exclude
any in-transit provisions under the trademark proposal and ensure that
generic medicines can safely pass through Europe to developing countries in
need in the future."

- Helle Aagaard, EU Policy and Advocacy Advisor, Médecins Sans Frontières
Access Campaign

Joanna Keenan
Press Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
P: +41 22 849 87 45
M: +41 79 203 13 02
E: joanna.keenan[at]geneva.msf.org
T: @joanna_keenan


Please sign MSF's DR-TB Manifesto today: www.msfaccess.org/TBManifesto

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