WTO TRIPS Council Ponders Regional Innovation Models, Other Issues 10/11/2016 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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)This week at the World Trade Organization intellectual property committee, a range of mostly developed countries requested to discuss regional innovation models, and countries presented examples of such models. The committee also addressed the issue of “non-violation” complaints and issues of biodiversity and trade, observers, and e-commerce. World Trade Organization The WTO Council for Trade-Related Aspects on Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) took place on 8-9 November. Australia, the European Union, Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United States requested the innovation discussion. According to a WTO source, several countries took the floor on the subject, including the EU, Australia, Switzerland, Japan, the US, Brazil, and Canada, to share their experience setting up regional innovation hubs and collaborating across borders. India also took the floor, according to its statement. Taiwan, one of the co-sponsors of the agenda, said it acknowledges the emergence of regional intellectual property systems, and the growth of regional innovation networks, according to its statement. The Taiwanese delegate said that since 2007 Taiwan has been extending international incubation cooperation from emerging markets to Europe and the US. Taiwan also organises an annual International Invention Show and Technomart to promote international collaborations, and technology transfer. Switzerland, another co-sponsor, said IP rights “play an eminent role in facilitating the process of regional integration.” “IP protection and the availability of effective means of enforcement provide countries, companies and individuals with the legal certainty they need to confidently and securely trade their IP products and services across national borders,” the delegate said in his statement. The Swiss delegate gave examples of regional innovation models in which Switzerland participates, such as the European Patent Organization (which includes EU members and non-EU members). The participation of Switzerland in the EPO “results in significant benefits for Switzerland and its inventors, for instance, in terms of the possibility to receive patent protection with one application in up to 38 European countries,” he said. He also cited the Patent Union between Switzerland and the Liechtenstein as an example of a bilateral innovation model between two neighbouring countries. The two countries agreed on a bilateral Treaty on the Protection Conferred by Patents for Inventions in 1978 and now form a unitary territory for the purposes of patent protection, he said. The Swiss delegate also mentioned Euresearch, which is a network agency mandated by the Swiss government “to provide targeted information, hands-on advice and transnational partnering related to European research and innovation programmes.” In cooperation with the EU’s Horizon 2020 program for Research and Innovation, Euresearch “mobilised for example support to develop a vaccine against Ebola.” He also cited the Geneva-based European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) as an example of regional innovation model, and mentioned Swissnex, a science and technology network which connects Switzerland to innovative hubs in key regions of the world. Brazil said innovation is closely related to intellectual property and to trade. Brazil in its efforts to “overcome the effects of a severe economic crisis,” is focusing on innovation as a tool to increase productivity and improve standards of living, the Brazilian delegate said in its statement. One of the challenges faced by the country, he said, is how to ensure that the growing Brazilian scientific production results in more innovative solutions to the country’s issues. Brazilian institutions have been partnering with their counterparts in other Mercosur and Latin American countries, he said. For example, Embrapa, Brazil’s agricultural research centre, with its counterparts in Paraguay and Uruguay, developed computer programmes to manage genetic resources, he said, adding that Fiocruz, Brazil’s public health research foundation, partnered with Argentina for the production of yellow fever vaccines. Later this month, the delegate said, Brazil will be hosting the 9th Academic Meeting on Intellectual Property, Innovation and Development, co-sponsored by its Industrial Property Institute and with the participation of Latin American and Caribbean Countries. As a member of the BRICS, ” Brazil has been supporting initiatives aimed at fostering increased research and development partnerships with Russia, India, China and South Africa, he said, and among other initiatives these countries have been discussing the creation of a joint Agricultural Research Center. India said the country has declared the decade of 2011-2020 as the Decade of Innovation, according to its statement. The Indian delegate remarked on regional trade agreements and “a number of “mega-regional trade agreements” promoted “by a few developed countries, which “have done away with several flexibilities provided under the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha Declaration on Public Health.” He said many developing countries, in the context of regional trade agreements had to accept TRIPS plus provisions, which for example “lengthen, broaden, and strengthen patent-related monopolies on medicines,” delaying the entry of cheaper generic drugs. Relationships TRIPS/CBD On the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), India said in in its statement that it has been a major victim of biopiracy and following its ratification of the CBD developed a Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) to prevent misappropriation of traditional knowledge. India has signed TKDL access agreements with nine international patent offices, the Indian delegate said, but although the TKDL is part of the solution, it is not enough and the TRIPS Agreement should be amended to provide for the mandatory disclosure of origin of genetic resources and/or associated traditional knowledge, as requested by numerous developing countries for several years. The CBD Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization now has 89 members, and the delegate said that the protocol’s Access and Benefit-Sharing Clearing-House, which is a platform for exchanging information on access and benefit-sharing, is now fully operational. According to sources, India during this session of the TRIPS Council proposed that the CBD attend a future TRIPS Council to give a presentation on the Nagoya Protocol. India suggested that the presentation be made in an informal setting. The proposal to have CDB presentation on Nagoya during the TRIPS Council is regularly suggested by developing countries and resisted by some developed countries (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 3 March 2016). The Indian proposal on the CBD presentation was supported by South Africa, Ecuador, Bolivia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Brazil, China, Colombia, Peru, Indonesia, Norway, and Guatemala, according to a WTO source. Canada and Australia said they are open to a presentation but not to amending the TRIPS agreement, the source said. The US opposed the request for a presentation but welcomed interest for bilateral consultations, according to the source. Japan and South Korea said the World Intellectual Property Organization is the best forum to address the issue. Brazil, in its statement, also supported the mandatory disclosure as a way to address misappropriation of generic resources and traditional knowledge. Non-Violation Complaints Non-violation complaints refer to situations when a government can go to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body even when a WTO agreement has not been violated, but because it finds that it has been deprived of an expected benefit due to another member government’s action. There is a current moratorium preventing non-violation complaints under the TRIPS Agreement, which has been regularly extended every two years. The TRIPS Council is expected to find agreement on whether the moratorium should be extended indefinitely or if non-violation complaints should apply to intellectual property. Most countries are in favour of an indefinite extension of the moratorium. The US and Switzerland have been in favour to allow non-violation complaints under TRIPS. According to a developing country source, the TRIPS Council chair suggested to produce a “non-paper” regarding scope and modalities on the subject, and this suggestion was supported by the US. However, India and South Africa opposed the idea, and India mentioned that any document had to come from the proponents themselves. A WTO source said the chair said he had consulted with delegations but those consultations did not produce any new thinking or shifts in delegations’ positions. The TRIPS Council is expected to produce recommendations for the next WTO Ministerial Conference expected to take place in Buenos Aires from 11-14 December 2017. Observers, E-Commerce No progress was achieved on the granting of observer status to the CBD and the intergovernmental South Centre, as some developed countries opposing the requests. The South Centre held a side event during the TRIPS Council on a trade and public health issue (separate story to come). Canada, at the last session of the TRIPS Council asked that the Council discuss the issues surrounding the intersection of intellectual property and electronic commerce. This session, Canada submitted a request [pdf] for continued discussions at the next session of the TRIPS Council. And separately, the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on access to medicines (see separate story). Image Credits: E. Murray – Own work Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."WTO TRIPS Council Ponders Regional Innovation Models, Other Issues" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.