HC Deb 20 November 2000 vol 357 cc1-2W
Dr. Gibson

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effects of recent decisions within the WTO on patents and intellectual property rights in technological developments in the developing world. [138552]

Mr. Foulkes

[holding answer 16 November 2000]: The UK Government believe that intellectual property rights (IPR)—for instance, conferring copyright, patent or trade mark protection—provide an important incentive for private investment. Developing countries have an important interest in providing intellectual property protection, as a way of encouraging more foreign investment, research and innovation from which they should benefit.

The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement was introduced into the WTO in the Uruguay Rounds and sets minimum standards for intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.

Developing countries agreed to implement TRIPs consistent legislation by January 2000. The least developed countries have until 2006 to comply. Therefore the real impacts are not yet visible and no conclusion can be drawn as to the effect of these rules on technological developments or otherwise in developing countries.

The precise details of IPR regimes can and should be tailored to the particular circumstances of individual countries. The UK Government believe that the TRIPs agreement allows WTO members sufficient flexibility to implement domestic IPR regimes which take adequate account of their national circumstances. But governments and the international community do need to support improved arrangements to monitor the impacts of the current agreement to make sure that this is the case.

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