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Archived updates for Wednesday, November 01, 2006

TRIPS Council Enforcement Discussions Stall

According to BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest on November 1, 2006, fundamental disagreements persisted during debates on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) at the WTO Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) which met on 25-26 October:

These discussions are being driven largely by the EU which has been pushing for the implementation of effective measures to enforce IPRs at the regional and international levels, for instance through the EU Directive on criminal measures aimed at ensuring the enforcement of IPRs and proposals in the TRIPS Council.

In a paper submitted jointly with the US, Switzerland and Japan, the EU highlighted the need for intervention from the TRIPS Council to assist efforts to curb the rapid increase in piracy and counterfeiting world wide. While the EU recognised that Members are allowed to implement suitable enforcement provisions domestically, it felt that such measures must ultimately help to achieve the objectives of the TRIPS Agreement. The EU has previously submitted a paper (IP/C/W/448) suggesting that the Council should assess Members' compliance with the TRIPS Agreement's enforcement provision (see BRIDGES Weekly, 22 June 2005,

During the Council meeting, several developing countries, including China, Chile, India, South Africa, Argentina and Brazil, strongly opposed the initiative and objected to a presentation by the EU on its experiences, which they felt would amount to implicitly accepting the EU's proposal to share country experiences. The developing countries felt that enforcement was an issue outside the scope of the TRIPS Agreement. Referring specifically to Article 1.1 of the TRIPS Agreement, which stipulates that Members are free to determine the appropriate method to implement the TRIPS Agreement's provisions, they argued that discussing enforcement in the TRIPS Council would mean restraining countries' flexibility to draft domestic legislation on this issue.

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