NOTE: Below is an exerpt of a communication from the United States government to the WTO General Council regarding preparations for the 3rd Ministerial Conference, to be held in Washington DC in late 1999. According to the US government, the agenda for the review of TRIPS Article 27.3b, commencing in 1999, is whether to: (1) delete the exclusion of plants and animals from patentability under TRIPS; and (2) incorporate key provisions of the UPOV Convention into TRIPS for the protection of intellectual property rights over plant varieties.
World Trade Organization WT/GC/W/115 19 November 1998 (98-4652) General Council Original: English
PREPARATIONS FOR THE 1999 MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE General Council Discussion on Mandated Negotiations and the Built-In Agenda 23 November 1998
Communication from the United States
II. BUILT IN AGENDA ISSUES - PARAGRAPH 9(A)(III)
A. Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
The TRIPS Agreement provides for further negotiation and/or review of several provisions of the Agreement, including the issue of biotechnology patents. In addition, the TRIPS Agreement provides for a review in 2000 to examine, inter alia, ?relevant new developments which might warrant modification or amendment of the Agreement.? In this submission, the United States calls attention to what we consider to be the most critical issues Members will need to consider in terms of the reviews required by the built-in agenda.
Patentable Subject Matter: Article 27.3(b) allows members to exclude from patentability plants and animals. It also states that the provisions of this subparagraph shall be reviewed four years after the date of entry into force of the WTO Agreement.
- The TRIPS Council will initiate work on this item in 1999, to consider whether it is desirable to modify the TRIPS Agreement by eliminating the exclusion from patentability of plants and animals and incorporating key provisions of the UPOV agreement regarding plant variety protection.
Dispute settlement: non-violation cases: Article 64.3 requires the Council for TRIPS to examine, during the five years from the date of entry into force of the WTO Agreement, the scope and modalities for the complaints provided for under subparagraphs 1(b) and 1(c) of Article XXIII of GATT 1994 made pursuant to the TRIPS Agreement, and to submit its recommendations to the Ministerial Conference for approval. Any decision of the Ministerial Conference to approve such recommendations or to extend the 5 year moratorium on non-violation cases provided under Article 64.2 shall be made only by consensus.
- The United States believes that the moratorium on non-violation cases should be allowed to expire on schedule, on January 1, 2000.
Implementation Review: Article 71.1 requires the Council for TRIPS to review the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement after the expiration of the transitional period referred to in paragraph 2 of Article 65, namely after 1 January 2000.
- The United States had made suggestions regarding implementation in its earlier submission; the review gives additional importance to ensuring effective implementation.