Friday, 6 February 2009

EU - East African Community EPA IP issues

Apart from the common market protocol negotiations that have been reported by Darren here, the EAC negotiations to take place in March 2009 will among other issues focus on Intellectual Property.

According to sources close to the negotiations, the draft text will consider all the areas under the TRIPS agreement such as copyright (including the copyright in computer programmes, and neighbouring rights); patents including patents for bio-technological inventions; protection for plant varieties; designs; layout-designs (topographies) of integrated circuits; geographical indications; trademarks for goods or services; protection for data bases; protection against unfair competition and protection of undisclosed confidential information on know how.

Some of the new areas to be tackled include traditional knowledge and folklore. The final text on issues such as this could determine how future negotiations on this issue under the auspices of WIPO or the WTO would turn out.

Subject to the pace of substantive negotiations, the parties (EU and the EAC) are expected to begin full implementation of the new IP regime not later than 1 January 2014. This appears to be an ambitious schedule, considering that most of the EAC member states as LDCs have failed to meet TRIPS standards which are considered by some to be less stringent than those contained in the draft EU-EAC Intellectual Property text. Should the EAC member states sign up on this text, the IP regime of the four member states that are LDCs ie Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi will require tremendous financial and technical support to establish functional IP registries, border and judicial measures in order to comply by 2014.

1 comment:

Dalindyebo Shabalala said...

And here we go again. For some analysis on why negotiating such IP provisions is a mistake, and entirely inappropriate for countries at EACs development level see: