Civil Society Coalition Statement to the Inter-Sessional Intergovernmental Meeting on the WIPO Development Agenda

April 13, 2005

Thank you your Excellency. As this is the first time the Civil Society Coalition is taking the floor, please let me congratulate you on your election to the chair.

My delegation welcomes the decision of WIPO Member States at this first Inter-Sessional Intergovernmental Meeting on a Development Agenda to grant ad hoc accreditation to NGOs seeking to participate in this historic event.

It is now more than ten years after the TRIPS Agreement has come into effect, about six years after the World Health Organization called upon Member States to “ensure that public health interests are paramount in pharmaceutical and health policies,” and more than three years after the WTO Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health said the TRIPS Agreement “should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO Members' right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all.”

If one is serious about the declarations of the WHO and the WTO, Member States must enact legislation and use the various limitations and exceptions to the rights of patents, trademarks or other types of intellectual property that are necessary to promote access to medicine.

What has WIPO done to assist countries in the implementation of the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health? Does it acknowledge there are abuses of patent rights, and mechanisms to remedy such abuses? Has WIPO held meetings explaining how countries can use the compulsory licensing flexibilities in the TRIPS Agreement? Does it examine the problems of anticompetitive practices such as “evergreening” patents on medicines?

How does it address requests for technical assistance when countries seek to provide so called “bolar” exceptions to patent laws, or to authorize parallel trade in medicines?

This is important. Has the International Bureau emphasized the ability of a country to authorize the export of medicines manufactured under a compulsory license under Article 40 of the TRIPS, without the burdensome procedures required by the August 30th 2003 decision adopted by the WTO?

Is the patent system that is promoted by WIPO one that can be fairly implemented in countries that lack the capacity and the resources to challenge poor patent quality? If not, can we design new approaches to fix the problem? Really, fix the problem.

We ask that the Standing Committee on Patents have as an agenda item a review of WIPO’s policies on implementation of Paragraph 4 of the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health. We also ask the SCP to examine the issue of the control of anticompetitive practices, particularly the implementation of Article 40 of the TRIPS.

This is not a matter of minor importance. It should have a higher priority than efforts to harmonize standards of patentability. It should come first.

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