Intellectual Property Rights

To date, disturbingly little information has been released about the actual content of the agreement. However, despite that, it is clearly on a fast track; treaty proponents want it tabled at the G8 summit in July, and completed by the end of 2008. July 2008. [see more]
Civil society groups and countries in the South are concerned about richer nations’ use of Intellectual Property Rights (in particular patents) to protect their own interests, due to the way they obstruct access to resources recognised as vital to humanity.

Broadly speaking, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are a set of legal rules used for regulating the use of "creative work". Intellectual property is divided into two categories: Industrial property, which includes inventions (protected by patents) and Copyright, which in general terms covers literary and artistic works.

Whereas copyright laws are designed to protect the expression of the content, patents protect the content itself and grant a monopoly over its use. (See Guide to Intellectual Property Rights for a definition of patents and copyright.)

Whilst its defenders maintain that patents are important to give incentive for innovation and offer a means to finance research and development activities, groups in the South protest that it is unfair to extend the same criteria to developing countries who cannot compete at the same level. The possibility for countries to decide their own national patent laws allows them to define what inventions may be patented in accordance with its national interests. However, there is a trend towards standardization of national patents laws and the WIPO expects many common exceptions to patentability to disappear in the next few years.

Under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), there has been a drive by industrialised nations to extend the patent regime to new fields and to strengthen its presence in existing ones. This presents obstacles to developing countries not only in developing new technologies, but also in accessing essential resources, with the result that their peoples are denied basic human rights.

The impacts of patents reach from access to essential medicines, caused by inaccessible prices and the denial of generic equivalents, to food security, resulting from seed patents. Furthermore, even where commitments have been made within the WTO in favour of developing countries, bilateral agreements which oblige signing parties to implement higher IPR standards (known as "TRIPS plus") are being increasingly established, creating further difficulties.
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Wednesday, April 28 2008
How does copyright affect the global South?
(Source: Copy South Research Group)
Thursday, April 10 2008
WIPO director general candidates respond to questions on IP policy
(Source: Intellectual Property Watch)

Choike’s in-depth reports

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Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group)


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Meetings and conferences

WIPO Development Agenda: Meeting agrees to 45 proposals and new Development Committee (Third World Network)

Tough decisions facing WIPO General Assembly (South North Development Monitor (SUNS))

Intellectual property rights evaluated

How does copyright affect the global South? (Copy South Research Group)

WIPO director general candidates respond to questions on IP policy (Intellectual Property Watch)

Maintaining policy space for development: a case study on IP technical assistance in FTAs (ICTSD)

Intellectual property and human rights: Is the distinction clear now? (3D)

Human Rights and the WIPO Development Agenda (3D)

Intellectual Property Rights (Word Matters: multicultural perspectives on information societies)

Why should intellectual property rights matter to civil society? (APC Africa ICT Policy Monitor)

How intellectual property rights can obstruct progress (Science and Development Network)

Intellectual property rights and human rights (UNHCHR)

Other issues in focus

North East Asia seeing explosive growth in patenting (Third World Network)

Intellectual property provisions in European Union trade agreements: implications for developing countries (ICTSD)

The impact of free trade agreements on intellectual property standards in a post-TRIPS world (Bilaterals)

North–South Conflicts in Intellectual Property Rights (Peace Review)

The commodification of traditional knowledge in bilateral trade agreements (GRAIN)

International organizations and agreements

South countries submit recommendations on WIPO Development Agenda

World Trade Organization

World Intellectual Property Organization WIPO

TRIPS material on WTO website

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