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CUTS-ARC: Civil Society Consultative Forum on Least Developed Countries (LDC)

Livingstone, Zambia

23 - 25 June 2005

[Introduction]  [Programme]  [Papers]  [Civil Society Memorandum]  [Civil Society Statement]
Papers > Experience and practical issues for LDCs in utilising flexibility under TRIPs and WTO in addressing public health emergencies
- Wole Olaleye, Action Aid
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Background to TRIPs

  • The Trade Related Aspect of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement is Annex 1C of he Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organisation, signed in Marrakesh, Morocco on 15 April 1994

  • TRIPS Agreement sets out minimum levels of standards concerning intellectual property in the form of copyrights, trademarks, patents industrial designs, geographical indicators, integrated circuits and trade secrets

  • Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) were brought into GATT Uruguay Round Agenda in the late 1980s through direct pressure by USA pharmaceutical companies

  • The developing countries resisted the introduction of IPRs into GATT, but they lack the critical mass to block it

  • As a compromise, trade related aspects of IPRs were included - TRIPs. The idea was that this would only cover trade related issues

  • IPRs was introduced into GATT for two major reasons:
    • technological revolutions in industrialised nations
    • technological revolutions in industrialised nations

  • Critique: The TRIPs Agreement itself does not focus on trade issues (e.g. eradicating trade barriers). Instead, it sets standards for the protection of IPR under false pretences: baseless promises of investment and technology transfer to developing countries. It is often said that countries providing strong intellectual property protection will attract greater inflows of foreign investment and technology, but there is no empirical evidence to back this up

  • TRIPs was basically included because of the comparative advantage that developed countries have in these technologies, and their commercial interest to maintain economic control over such products

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