Recent Multilateral and Bilateral Trends in IP Policy Making: Lessons and challenges for Africa, 6 October 2006
On 6 October 2006, tralac, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL) co-hosted a workshop examining intellectual property provisions in regional trade agreements.
The IP workshop was conceived with the objective of providing a platform for a strategic discussion on important trends at the multilateral and bilateral levels; generating a deeper understanding of new IP obligations in the new generation of FTAs and exploring implications of new IP standards in FTAs.
The event was held on the afternoon of 6 October 2006, following tralac’s Annual Conference on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). The speakers were a combination of specialists from NGOs, government departments, international organizations and academia.
The workshop was opened by tralac’s Executive Director, Trudi Hartzenberg, who emphasized the important implications that IP has on development. David Vivas from ICTSD added that one of the aims of the workshop was to examine the main IP issues concerning Africa, especially the controversial ones. Dalindyebo Shabalala from CIEL proceeded to highlight the fact that lots of analytical work still needed to be done in the field of IP with its application in modern FTAs being of particular importance.
Some of the questions and comments from the floor included the following:
Not to underestimate the EU’s ambition of introducing a GI chapter in the EPAs. They are probably going to do so and will push for GIs to be seen as superior to trademarks. One of the panelists pointed out that GIs and trademarks can co-exist and gave the EU/Australia example.
How many countries protect biodiversity and traditional knowledge? The panelists pointed out that indigenous groups were underrepresented in policy formulation and thus, very few countries in the region ended up negotiating for protection on these issues.
The appropriate interpretation of the term “fair dealing” when dealing with textbooks was sought for South Africa, where there were huge resource disparities between different institutions and different groups of students at these institutions.
Were there any legal remedies available for the indigenous people whose Hoodia plant had been commercially exploited without their consent or benefit?
Concern was raised over the proliferation of bilateral trade negotiations in the wake of the suspension of the Doha Round. This development was likely to put underresourced negotiators in the region under intense pressure.
The need for multistakeholder consultation in dealing with IP issues and trade negotiations was also underscored.