THIS NEWS STORY is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.

The official record is in the meeting’s minutes.

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Some details


Green technology transfer back to top

The discussion on green technologies was the latest in a series, put on the agenda at the request of Ecuador, which proposes easing patent terms and strengthening TRIPS flexibilities for environmentally sound technologies (document IP/C/W/585) so that the technologies can be transferred more easily to them. This would be similar to the flexibilities for pharmaceutical products. Ecuador said it is preparing a revised proposal for the next TRIPS Council meeting in October.

Some developing countries continued to support Ecuador’s position (for example, Cuba, El Salvador, Peru), while others simply stressed that the flexibilities and other tools that already exist in the intellectual property agreement should be used (for example, Chile).

A number of developed countries countered that intellectual property protection does not hinder innovation and technology transfer in developing countries. Some (such as the US) described successful inventions around the world and the role of intellectual property in their development. Others (such as the EU) pointed out that only a tiny percentage of green technologies are patented in many developing countries, meaning these countries can freely use the technologies described and published in patents applications in developed countries. The obstacles to adopting green technologies lie elsewhere, for example in lack of financial resources, high investment costs, subsidies and import duties, they said.

Ecuador also called for a short information session on the subject before the next meeting with outside experts contributing. Some members supported the call, while others said they need to know more about the proposed event before endorsing it.


Innovation incubators back to top

A number of members, both developed and developing, described their experiences in providing services to support innovation by small and medium-sized enterprises, and start-up companies, described as “incubation” services. Where invention and intellectual property are concerned, these services can range from giving advice on management or for filing patents, to providing office space or laboratories.

Introduced by Chinese Taipei and the US, the discussion was intended to illustrate how smaller companies and newcomers could be supported to use intellectual property in developing their innovations. Also sharing their experiences were: Panama, Japan, Chile, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, Botswana and El Salvador. India cautioned that intellectual property protection can sometimes hinder innovation, a view that Brazil partly shared although Brazil also described its own innovation incubators.


Non-violation dispute back to top

The US called for an end to the “moratorium” on “non-violation” disputes in TRIPS. A non-violation case arises in the WTO when one country challenges the legality of another’s actions, if it feels it is deprived of an expected benefit, even if no actual agreement or commitment has been violated. Non-violation disputes are allowed for goods and services, but not in intellectual property under a temporary agreement (the “moratorium”) that has been extended several times. The most recent two-year extension was agreed at the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013.

The US call came in a new paper circulated immediately before the meeting (document IP/C/W/599). The paper cites WTO case law and other factors to rebut a number of reservations countries have raised. It asserts that “non-violation” complaints are fully appropriate under the TRIPS Agreement. Findings in legal disputes under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (the main treaty covering trade in goods), and guidance from the Dispute Settlement Understanding (which governs legal disputes in the WTO) clarify adequately how the complaints would apply, it says.

The paper further notes the assertion made in the last meeting that in any case non-violation complaints could not be brought against members using flexibilities available under the TRIPS Agreement.

Switzerland supported the US. Other speakers (including Japan and the EU) said they need more time to study the paper but most added that they still consider non-violation cases to be inappropriate in intellectual property (Venezuela, South Africa, Brazil, China, Bangladesh, Bolivia, India, Egypt, Rep. Korea, Cuba, the African Group (Nigeria speaking), Canada, Russia, Chinese Taipei, Colombia and Peru). They referred to arguments made in previous meetings and some cited a paper they circulated 12 years ago in 2002 (document IP/C/W/385).


Others back to top

Turkey said it has accepted the amendment to the TRIPS Agreement on producing pharmaceuticals under “compulsory licensing” (without the permission of the patent owner) for export to countries that cannot produce the medicines themselves.

In addition, Uruguay said its Parliament has ratified the amendment, and that the official notification will be circulated shortly.

Two thirds of the WTO’s membership are needed to accept it for the amendment to take effect, and when that is reached, the amendment applies to those members that have accepted it. (Details of the system set out in the amendment, known as “Paragraph 6”, are here.)


CHAIRPERSON: Mr Mothusi Palai of Botswana (confirmed at the start of the meeting)



TRIPS Council (regular) meetings (could change):


  • 28–29 October

Jargon buster 

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• geographical indications (GIs)

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