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India, Brazil cross swords with U.S. at WTO

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Moratorium on Intellectual Property Complaints

Switzerland and the U.S. have begun a campaign at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to not renew a moratorium on ‘non-violation complaints and situations’ for intellectual property rights that expires at the end of the year.

Intellectual property laws are governed internationally by the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. The moratorium first came into being in 1995, when the WTO was born. And has survived by way of several extensions.

A non-violation and situation complaint can be raised against a WTO member when it undertakes a certain action which, while not violating WTO rules itself, denies another member an expected benefit by nullifying or countering another action or policy required by the WTO.

Introducing subsidies to undo the effect of lowered tariffs would be an example of an action that could potentially attract a non-violation complaint. A proposal to continue the moratorium has been submitted by Brazil on behalf of a group of 19 countries that includes India and China. If the proposal is successful, the moratorium will continue after 2015, preserving the status quo. If unsuccessful, however, it opens the door to a new world of possibilities and litigation as far as intellectual property is concerned.

Section 3(d) of the India Patents Act (1970) is likely to be a target of complainants, according to the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society. This section of the Act defines what an invention is, and has been interpreted by the Indian Patent Office to deny patents for drugs such as Sovaldi, a hepatitis C drug by Gilead Sciences, and Glivec, a cancer drug by Novartis.

The denial of these patents has significant benefits for access to affordable medication in India. It also has implications for the revenues of multi-national pharmaceutical companies and their incentives to innovate.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 9:58:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/india-brazil-cross-swords-with-us-at-wto/article7347311.ece

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