WTO TRIPS Council To Consider New Brazil-United States Item On Innovation

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The World Trade Organization member committee on the WTO intellectual property agreement meets tomorrow, with a new agenda item on intellectual property and innovation at the request of the United States and Brazil.

The Council on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) will meet on 6 November, extending to 7 November if necessary.

According to a Brazilian delegate, the new agenda item on innovation is meant to bring a broad debate on innovation and intellectual property at the TRIPS Council, which otherwise has fallen into a routine exercise, where delegates simply state their positions. A number of issues pertaining to intellectual property are taking place outside of the multilateral system, he said, and this agenda item is meant to allow a broad discussion at the WTO where each country can bring its perspective and angle.

Among the other agenda items is the annual review of a public health amendment to the TRIPS agreement, the so-called paragraph 6 solution, which was intended to encourage shipments of inexpensive pharmaceuticals to developing countries lacking their own manufacturing capabilities but has been little used.

Also on the agenda is the provision of TRIPS Article 27.3(b) on patentability of plant and animal inventions, which has been under review for years. At issue is the relationship between TRIPS and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and the disclosure of origin in patent applications. Positions have been entrenched for years (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 2 March 2011). Member countries will also have to discuss the protection of traditional knowledge and folklore, also linked to Article 27.3(b).

Also on the agenda is an item on non-violation and situation complaints, which are disputes arising between members even if a WTO agreement or commitment has not been violated but a member can show that it has been deprived of an expected benefit because of another country’s action. The TRIPS Council has been discussing whether non-violation complaints should be allowed in intellectual property, with some members in favor of banning non-violation complaints in TRIPS, while others insisted they should be kept in TRIPS.

A temporary moratorium has been agreed upon and extended at each WTO Ministerial Conference. The 2011 Geneva Ministerial Conference extended the moratorium until the next WTO Ministerial Conference in 2013, according to the WTO.

This week’s meeting also marks the tenth annual review under paragraph 2 of the decision on the implementation of TRIPS [pdf] Article 66.2 which requests that developed country members provide incentives to their enterprises and institutions to promote and encourage technology transfer to least-developed countries.

An Intellectual Property Watch report from the June TRIPS Council meeting is here.

William New contributed to this report.

Catherine Saez may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

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