IP Issues Reappear On Agenda Of WTO Talks14/10/2005 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare 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)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.Intellectual property issues resurfaced on the agenda of the preparatory talks for the December World Trade Organization ministerial as they were mentioned at the meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) in Geneva on 13 October.No specific proposals were put forward but WTO Director General Pascal Lamy and some member governments expressed the expectation of further discussing an issue of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and public health, as well as implementation of the outstanding issues of the Doha Ministerial Declaration, including the extension of the protection of geographical indications.“We must also ensure that the issues of implementation … and TRIPS and public health are taken up in an appropriate way in the lead-up to [the December ministerial in] Hong Kong,” Lamy said. “And we must ensure that we build the necessary base for an ‘aid for trade’ package for the end of the round.”In his statement to the TNC, Lamy announced that he would undertake a “consultative process” with members in line with the mandate given to the director general in the July 2004 decisions which was renewed by the WTO General Council in July of this year. But one delegation member said afterward it appears unlikely the consultation meeting would take place before the next meeting of the TRIPS Council on 27-28 October.On TRIPS and public health, a number of developing countries are seeking to amend the TRIPS agreement to allow countries to export their generic pharmaceuticals to other countries. Governments missed several deadlines over the past year to replace a 30 August 2003 waiver for countries to manufacture products for export under compulsory licenses, which allow local manufacturers to lift patents in cases of need. WTO members have agreed to convert the waiver into a formal amendment to TRIPS but cannot agree on how. Some African nations continue to push hard for the certainty of a permanent amendment. The waiver remains in place in the meantime, but so far no country has used the waiver, according to sources.On implementation, Lamy said: “I am undertaking a consultative process on all outstanding implementation issues under paragraph 12(b) of the Doha Ministerial Declaration, including on issues related to the extension of the protection of geographical indications provided for in Article 23 of the TRIPS agreement to products other than wines and spirits.” Some opponents of the extension have argued that it does not enjoy a mandate for negotiation, but rather only discussion.The geographical indications issue relates to a proposal from the European Union and Switzerland to set up a registry of protected names (naming rights) for items like food deriving their name from a specific geographic area (such as Parma ham). The United States and other so-called “New World” countries have opposed such a registry (see Intellectual Property Watch, Vol 2, Nos.6-7). The geographical indications registry has an undisputed negotiating mandate.Another intellectual property issue in the WTO preparatory talks is a proposal to require the disclosure of the origin of material or traditional knowledge in patent applications. This is sought by biodiverse countries such as India and Brazil and is related to the link between the TRIPS agreement and the international Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). Lamy mentioned the issue to the TNC, and India’s ambassador noted it.Lamy said Deputy Director General Rufus Yerxa would take up responsibility for the geographical indications and TRIPS-CBD issues. There has been speculation that the supporters of these two areas would join forces to get their respective agendas through, but this is seen as having limited impact as both areas remain opposed by the United States.The trade liberalisation negotiations, currently targeted for completion by 2007, were launched in Doha, Qatar in 2001. Some issues to be negotiated at the critical December ministerial in Hong Kong are still being finalised. The TNC is the body with oversight of all negotiations, and is chaired by the director general.On a general note, Lamy said that the “engines of the negotiations plane have been switched on again,” although he added they may not be sufficient to lift the talks to “the necessary altitude” to have a successful outcome in Hong Kong. Although the pre-Hong Kong negotiations are mainly focused on agriculture, Lamy noted that there are “elements of parallelism and simultaneity” in the negotiation.And for all areas, he said, time is running out for completing text for the ministers in Hong Kong.” He noted that “we now have days, rather than weeks or months,” and called for “heavy political traction” by all parties.A number of high-level country representatives, including US Trade Representative Rob Portman, are expected to be back in Geneva next week for further negotiations primarily on agriculture.Share 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)Related"IP Issues Reappear On Agenda Of WTO Talks" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.