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IP Protection by LDCs and WTO

24th November, 2011
Least Developed Countries will get more time to protect intellectual property as per latest developments in the World Trade Organisation. The TRIPS (intellectual property) Council of WTO Members has reached a consensus agreement on the draft decision which is expected to be adopted in the Ministerial Conference in Geneva in December, 2011.

The original 2005 deadline for protecting intellectual property by the LDCs under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement was earlier extended till July 2013. In case of pharmaceutical patents, the Doha Declaration has already extended the deadline to 2016. LDCs led by Bangladesh and Angola feel that they require more time to identify their needs for assistance, to use the assistance to beef up their ability to protect intellectual property, and ultimately to protect it.

The WTO Body has also agreed to a draft decision on refraining the members from bringing “non-violation” cases to the WTO dispute settlement system for another two years. The TRIPS Agreement contains a temporary restraint on bringing non-violation complaints to the WTO.
A non-violation complaint is one when a member-country is aggrieved over a particular action of the country against which complaint is lodged even though no agreement is violated. The provisions for such restrictions have also time and again been extended and were lastly extended in 2009 till the next Ministerial Conference in 2011. The USA and Switzerland are of the view that there is a place for non-violation complaints in TRIPS, but are not blocking consensus for extending the moratorium.
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