Patent waiver proposal to tackle COVID-19: TRIPS Council of WTO to hold meetings till July-end
Patent waiver proposal to tackle COVID-19: TRIPS Council of WTO to hold meetings till July-end
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The TRIPS Council of the World Trade Organization on Thursday agreed to hold a series of meetings till July-end to take stock of the text-based discussions on a proposal seeking patent waivers to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, an official said.

This was agreed upon at the informal meeting of the council in Geneva.

The meeting follows after the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed by consensus to start the text-based negotiations on the proposal.

"At the informal TRIPS Council meet on 17 June, members agreed to a calendar of meetings until the end of July to organise and take stock of the text-based discussions on an urgent IP response to COVID-19," the Geneva-based trade official said.

The objective is to prepare a report to be submitted to the next General Council, scheduled to take place on 27-28 July, on the progress made so far.

The first meeting will be an informal session on June 30. It would be followed by similar meetings on July 6, 14 and 20th.

The chair of the TRIPS Council, Ambassador Dagfinn Sorli of Norway, indicated that most likely on the latter date (20 July), the council will have to meet in a formal mode to agree on a report to the General Council, the official added.

On June 30, members will discuss the scope, coverage of TRIPS provisions and coverage of products of the proposed waiver by South Africa and India.

The European Union has also submitted a proposal, which would be updated and circulated to other members in the coming days. Some other delegations had also indicated that they are working on proposals that may be presented to members soon.

"Considering the rather short timeline before the General Council, the chair urged delegations working on new proposals to come forward as soon as possible, so that an opportunity for such proposals to be presented to all members can be found," the official said.

In October 2020, India and South Africa had submitted the first proposal suggesting a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.

In May this year, a revised proposal was submitted by 62 co-sponsors, including India, South Africa and Indonesia.

The agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS came into effect in January 1995. It is a multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP) rights such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.

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