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AIPPI discussing the day-to-day impact of the TRIPS Agreement for practitioners at Barcelona University

by Catherine Mateu (Chair of AIPPI’s Standing Committee on TRIPS)

On September 26th, 2016, the AIPPI TRIPS Committee represented by myself, held a three hour conference on the day-to-day impact of the TRIPS Agreement for Businesses at the Barcelona University, Spain, in front of Spanish patent practitioners of both private practice and the industry sector, who regularly gather during ‘‘Lunes de Patentes’’ or Monday Patent quarterly sessions.

The TRIPS Agreement (or Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) is the outcome of the Uruguay Round Negotiations and became the Annex 1 C of the Marrakesh Agreement creating the WTO in 1995.

The Agreement currently binds 164 countries around the world and has been regarded as having direct effect, making its understanding crucial, especially to ensure which measures are applicable, where and for whom. The specific provisions regarding the least developing countries (Transitional Arrangements) were mentioned, as well as other principles relevant to the Agreement, namely Non-Discrimination and Most-Favoured-Nation.

Aside from principles, it was pointed out that the Agreement contains many patent provisions that have a direct impact on daily patent law practice. Article 39 of the TRIPS, regulating Trade Secrets, has occasionally and successfully been invoked in front of courts in Europe (a situation subject to change with the new EU Directive on the matter). The Bolar exemption also enters the scope of the Agreement and was subject to a dispute at the WTO in 2000. Compulsory Licencing provisions were also mentioned. The fate of Goods in Transit is similarly sensitive, as the WTO received a complaint in 2010 for a case of seizure of drugs in transit in the EU. The TRIPS even have impact on other international texts, including regional or bilateral agreements, such as the very recent Trans-Pacific Partnership. Finally, the debated statute of Artificial Intelligence creations, under discussion in Japan, also has to be considered into the wider spectrum of the TRIPS, as a new regulation would immediately impact all member states of the Agreement.

The aim was to highlight the proximity of this international legal text with day-to-day practice of patent law. It was also the occasion to debate and clear up sensitive issues related to the TRIPS and WTO policies and current evolutions of patent practice around the globe.

The material for the conference, containing all references to legal and regulatory documents, research papers and cases, is available on Barcelona University’s Website at the following address :

http://www.ub.edu/centredepatents/pdf/doc_dilluns_CP/Catherine_Mateu-TRIPS_From_WTO_to_business_LP2016-09-26.pdf

The program of Monday Patent sessions of Barcelona University is available at the following address :

http://www.ub.edu/centredepatents/es/cursos/documentacio_dill.html