Tag Archives: TRIPS

“Seed policies and the right to food; enhancing agrobiodiversity and encouraging innovation.” Report to the UN General Assembly

“Seed policies and the right to food”; The Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food from the UN website*

(*I was having problems with this link today; so if you too have problems  connecting to the UN docs library link then please try this alternative link from the “Voices from Africa” website — Kay)

The report is written by Olivier De Schutter who is currently the Special Rapporteur on the right to food.  Click here for the annoucement that it will be presented at the UN General Assembly on October 21st.

The Summary concludes with:

“The…report explores how States could implement seed policies that contribute to the full realization of human rights. It identifies how research and development could best serve the poorest farmers in developing countries, and how commercial seed systems could be regulated to serve the right to food and ensure the right of all to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress. Finally, it examines how farmers’ seed systems could best be supported, in order to serve the interest of all in the preservation of agrobiodiversity.”

The report looks, in some detail, at IP issues and at the role of TRIPS, UPOV and CBD.  Section headings include:

  • The developing regime of IP rights and biodiversity protection
  • The expansion of IP rights
  • The protection of biodiversity and the risk of misappropriation of genetic resources
  • Crop genetic diversity as a global public good
  • Redirecting innovation towards the realization of the right to food
  • IP rights in the commercial seed systems and the right to food
  • Farmers’ seed systems and the right to food

In the conclusion, the report calls for continued innovation on all fronts and urges a non-linear approach:

“Our paradigm of agricultural development must…be redefined”.

Donors and both the CGIAR and FAO are called upon to assist and support such innovation.

This report underlines the complexity of the work we are engaged in pursuing, and focuses attention on IP issues.

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

Enlarging the ‘territorial’ nature of IP rights for goods in transit

An article recently posted on IP Watch provokes a rather interesting discussion regarding the way IP rights have been enforced on goods that are in transit.  Also relevant to the discussion are the previous posts from the CAS-IP blog:
a) https://casipblog.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/ip-law-enforcement-in-eu-trips-up-shipment-of-generic-drug-from-india-to-brazil/; and
b) https://casipblog.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/patent-enforcement-the-doha-declaration/).

Some would also perhaps remember we had very similar events in agriculture on this, although not entirely the same: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2006/feb/22/gm.argentina

Monsanto, in the above case, tried to sue importers of Argentinean soy in the EU but was unsuccessful.  The growth of cases in the health sector now seems to indicate that generic drugs could be seized while on transit in the EU on the grounds of (potential) infringement of IP rights in the EU when the latter is not the final destination of those products.  This is very disturbing indeed.

One could argue that this amounts to enlarging the ‘territorial’ nature of IP rights, especially when no such rights exist in the country of final destination.  One can also imagine this could have implications for developing countries’ “freedom to operate”.

There is another point in the IP Watch article that I am unclear of as well.  According to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the previous EU law seems to focus mainly on trademark issues (counterfeiting and piracy) instead of being all encompassing to include also patents.  I am not sure what the rationale is for the previous EU legislation, limited to only stopping counterfeit and pirated goods.  Should there be a difference and if so, why?  Perhaps an expert reader out there would be able to help me on this point and share some further comments on this news?

Post written by Guat Hong Teh, Legal Specialist for CAS-IP

Patent enforcement & the Doha Declaration


This news item was posted on Afro IP.   The article describes how Dutch customs:

“seized the shipment, made by Indian firm Aurobindo, en-route to Nigeria, at Schipol airport in November under EC legislation designed to protect intellectual property rights.”

The shipment it turns out was HIV medication destined for Sub-Saharan Africa.  The World Trade Organisation has, according the article, commented that this is “over-zealous” enforcement of EC red tape and the article goes on to say:

“[campaign groups] are calling on the EC to revise regulation No 1383/2003 of July 2003, which they say allows for the seizure of medical shipments on the basis they might be infringing intellectual property rights or be counterfeit.  Rohit Malpani of Oxfam International added that the EC law failed to respect the WTO’s Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, which says that intellectual property rules should not interfere with the ability of developing countries to protect and promote public health.”

This isn’t the only criticism of the Dutch authorities regarding their enforcement actions.  Last month I blogged about an IP law enforcement case involving EU, TRIPS and generic drug in transit in the Netherlands from India and bound for Brazil.  Again, the Afro-IP blog  took this story up linking to this site http://ictsd.net/i/news/bridgesweekly/42823  I found some of the details in this article a little confusing but there was a good write-up from IP-watch on the matter last month, including links to statements from the two countries concerned.

IP law enforcement in EU trips-up shipment of generic drug from India to Brazil

Thanks to Victoria Henson-Apollonio for sending this link and post:

“Generic drug made in India, bound for Brazil.  No patents in either country.  Shipment sent through the port of Rotterdam, landing on soil (EU) where there is a patent.  Shipment seized and sent back to India…”

How do IPRs and IP help public agricultural research in developing/emerging economy countries?

the National Partners Initiative
I’m continuing to blog from the the National Partners Initiative workshop being held in Mombasa.  I have been talking to the participants this week about where they see IP making a positive contribution in agricultural research in their countries.  I wanted to take this opportunity to share on this blog some of the comments:

From Indonesia:
“IP rights encourage scientists to develop their career & innovation.  Patents and copyright provided incentives at a national research centre’ ”

From Malaysia:
“IP helps the potential to commercialize an R&D project.  It adds value to the R&D and indicates a certain quality standard”

From China:
“IP improved income into local breeding institute”

From Tanzania
“breeders work hard to find their own varieties – it gives breeder incentives and boosts their innovation when they have Plant Variety Protection”

From India:
“the grant of USPTO protection in the well-known cases of Tumeric and Basmati changed the face of IP in India.  Law makers were mobilised and sped up the implementation of TRIPS.  This has helped protect traditional knowledge and build livelihoods for producers in India.”

From Kenya:
“IP awareness has an impact on the attention paid to IP clauses in agreements.  It helps parties to understand roles and responsibilities and helps manage risk.  By formalising in this way partnerships are more effective because a mutual understanding is reached.”