WTO IP Committee Suspended Over LDC Extension17/10/2015 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 2 CommentsShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now.Informal negotiations at the World Trade Organization between least developed countries (LDCs) and some developed countries over a public health extension for LDCs could not be finalised in time to be taken to the intellectual property committee meeting today and led to a suspension of the meeting for an indeterminate time. The WTO Council on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) met on 15-16 October. It was not clear at press time whether the meeting had reconvened late tonight or when it might reconvene.Two agenda items were expected to generate tense discussions, one of which was the request by LDCs to extend the waiver which allow them to avoid applying IP rights on pharmaceutical products.The LDC Group had also required that the waiver be made permanent until countries graduate from their LDC status (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 13 October 2015).The extension of the waiver, which is a possibility offered to LDCs in the WTO TRIPS Agreement, is supported by a large majority of countries. Some countries, such as the United States and Switzerland, according to sources, are resisting the fact that the extension should be indefinite until countries reach a sufficient economic level to graduate from the LDC status. The LDC request has support of the European Union.This morning, negotiations were going on between LDCs and mainly the United States, with the main issue being the duration of the extension, sources told Intellectual Property Watch. LDCs consider the extension to be a reasonable request, a LDC source told Intellectual Property Watch. For them, it is not just a demand made without grounds, and it is a right of LDCs in the TRIPS Agreement.LDCs benefit from a general waiver on TRIPS until 2021. The particular waiver on pharmaceuticals is due to expire on 1 January 2016.The LDC request has been strongly supported by many civil society groups (IPW, Public Health, 29 May 2015), a supplier of essential medicines to low-and medium income countries (IPW, Public Health, 30 March 2015), and two United Nations organisations (IPW, Public Health, 22 May 2015).In September, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), in a press release, said it agrees with the European Commission that the specific development needs of LDCs “may warrant a waiver from the obligations of the TRIPS agreement.”However, the statement says that the TRIPS Council should decide on the duration of the specific pharmaceutical waiver. “The vast majority of essential medicines are already off patent and so the TRIPS flexibilities or LDC waivers are irrelevant to questions of access. The pivotal issues affecting access to medicines for LDCs lie outside the area of IP,” the EFPIA said.The other prickly issue of this session of the TRIPS Council was whether a moratorium shielding IP form non-violation complaints should be extended permanently. No consensus was found and the TRIPS Council decided to suspend the session on that point for an indefinite period, with the possibility of reconvening before the December ministerial meeting (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 15 October 2015).“Entrepreneurialism”An additional agenda item, requested by the EU and US, cosponsored by Australia, Singapore and Taiwan, was on Intellectual Property and Innovation Entrepreneuralism and New Technologies. It provided the opportunity for countries to deliver statements on their national experience, according to sources.Several countries underlined the fact that IP is not the sole driver of innovation, such as Brazil, who said “it is only one in a larger mix of different tools that promote innovation.”“Having the right infrastructure for innovation, collaboration on research, the flow of ideas among different innovation players and access to knowledge are often more important ingredients of innovation,” the Brazil statement said.India remarked along the same line, according to sources. India noted that the agenda item had been submitted without further information than the title and said that they were willing to discuss innovation items but resented the fact that some of their own proposals, such as a proposal they submitted for a stakeholder workshop on Paragraph 6 within the TRIPS Council, was opposed by some countries several times, a source told Intellectual Property Watch. 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