WTO TRIPS Council Considers Workshop On Public Health Amendment02/03/2010 by Kaitlin Mara, 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)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.The World Trade Organization group on intellectual property rights met today and ended early, discussing a potential workshop on an amendment intended to ease access to cheaper generic medicines in countries without a pharmaceutical manufacturing sector, a new proposal from Bolivia, and three separate longstanding IP issues with no major changes. Countries were unable to agree to hold a workshop on the so-called “paragraph 6” agreement, which allow countries to issue a compulsory licence on drugs primarily intended for export to developing countries in need of cheaper generic versions and unable to manufacture them themselves.Instead, the chair of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council said he will hold informal consultations on the issue, though the details of when and how they will be conducted are not yet decided. The United States appears to be the main opponent of holding a workshop, according to several sources. For more background on this issue, see (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 1 March 2010).Several countries also brought up another health issue in order to signal its continuing importance to their delegations, sources said. This issue is the delaying of generic drugs in transit through European ports, on which positions have remained unchanged since the October 2009 TRIPS Council (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 30 October 2009).Also today, Martin Glass of Hong Kong was formally named the next chair of the TRIPS Council (though the decision was taken at the General Council on 22 February). A special session of TRIPS dedicated to the mandated creation of an international register on geographical indications (product names associated with a certain place and characteristics) meeting 4 March will open with its new chair, Darlington Mwape of Zambia. Karen Tan of Singapore is the outgoing chair of both meetings.Positions on the three longstanding TRIPS issues – which have been strategically linked and are supported by a majority of WTO members – have also remained unchanged since the October 2009 TRIPS Council, several sources told Intellectual Property Watch.These issues include the creation of the GI register, a proposed extension of high-level protection on geographical indications for wines and spirits to other goods (GI extension) and mandated examination of how the TRIPS agreement relates to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.On the latter two issues, referred to as “outstanding implementation issues” from the Doha ministerial, WTO Director General Lamy is conducting informal consultations to try and move the process along. An open-ended informal meeting is planned in a few weeks, possibly on 12 March according to one source.The TRIPS Council meeting was originally scheduled for 2-3 March, but ended a day early.Bolivia ProposalMeanwhile, Bolivia has submitted a communication on the article in the TRIPS agreement related to plant variety protection and the patentability of innovations on plants and animals.This TRIPS Article 27.3(b) was scheduled to be reviewed four years after the implementation of the agreement forming the WTO. But that review stalled and the last official document on it [pdf] dates to March 2006.More recently, issues of patenting related to plant life have been discussed in relation to a mandate from the 2001 Doha ministerial that the TRIPS Council examine the relationship of TRIPS to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).The Bolivia submission is related to the country’s adoption of a new constitution in January 2009 that includes provisions on the rights of indigenous peoples, the protection of biodiversity and “prohibition of private appropriation of plants, animals, micro-organisms and any living matter for exclusive use and exploitation.”Article 27.3(b) does not allow the flexibility not to grant patents on micro-organisms.Bolivia’s communication also cites the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and says a review of 27.3(b) should take this declaration into account.It calls for 27.3(b) to prohibit the patenting of life forms, including micro-organisms and gene sequences, ensure the protection of indigenous and local community traditional knowledge and folklore in particular against IP claims over that knowledge, and prevent “anti-competitive practices” that threaten food sovereignty in developing countries.[Update: A WTO official has said technical cooperation was also discussed at the meeting. Bangladesh has joined Sierra Leone and Uganda in submitting its priority needs to the TRIPS Council, there is a new site at the WTO on the priority needs of least developed countries, and the EU introduced a 61-page update on its technical cooperation projects.]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)RelatedKaitlin Mara may be reached at email@example.com."WTO TRIPS Council Considers Workshop On Public Health Amendment" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.