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India Voices TRIPS/ACTA Concerns

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

15 June 2010

The Indian delegation to the WTO TRIPS Council meeting on June 9 has spoken of its concerns regarding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), echoing recent statements by China.

Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and Singapore, Switzerland and the United States are all party to the ACTA negotiations. ACTA seeks to establish international standards on intellectual property rights enforcement.

The delegation voiced India’s general concerns, before focusing on some specific issues.

“We support the statement made by China who have drawn the broad canvas against which the TRIPS plus enforcement trends must be seen. They have also raised several fundamental concerns which require further deliberation in this Council. My delegation also wishes to draw Members’ attention to some systemic implications of the multitude of initiatives launched by a group of largely developed country Members to enforce TRIPS Agreement in a manner that is considerably more extensive than the level enshrined in TRIPS Agreement.”

“India has had to expend significant resources and make legislative changes to protect and enforce IPRs in line with TRIPS within the ten year transition period which ended in 2005. Among the developing countries, the least developed are still in the transition period till 2013-16.”

“Our concerns arise from the surge of TRIPS plus initiatives in multilateral fora, RTAs and plurilateral initiatives like the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Texts of such RTAs, and more recently the negotiating text of ACTA, have appeared in public domain.”

“Such higher levels of protection are likely to disturb the balance of rights and obligations in the Agreement enshrined, interalia, in the Preamble, the Objectives and Principles (Art 7-8) and have the potential to constrain the flexibilities and policy space provided by the TRIPS Agreement to developing country Members like India particularly in areas such as public health, ToT, socio-economic development, promotion of innovation and access to knowledge. They could also potentially negate decisions taken multilaterally such as the Doha Declaration on Public Health in WTO and the Development Agenda in WIPO.”

“There is no doubt that IPR enforcement is an issue of fundamental importance, which India takes very seriously. However, our concerns emanate from levels of enforcement which far exceed those foreseen in TRIPS Agreement.”

The delegation then raised specific concerns, including, the undermining of existing TRIPS provisions, the increase in non-tariff barriers to trade, the growing cost of IP enforcement, the circumvention of existing multilateral frameworks and last, but not least, issues relating to the seizure of goods in transit.

The delegation concluded with a call for “developed country Members to keep these concerns in mind while dealing with IPR enforcement issues. Agreements such as ACTA have the portents to completely upset the balance of rights and obligations of the TRIPS Agreement. WTO cannot remain a silent observer to such a development. It is important that the issue is deliberated in this Council in detail.”

TAGS: Morocco | TRIPS | India | law | intellectual property | Australia | China | Mexico | Singapore | enforcement | legislation | Canada | New Zealand | Switzerland | United States | standards | trade | Japan

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