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TDRI warns against US IP rights push

Bangkok Post

TDRI warns against US IP rights push

9 January 2006

(TNA) A leading academic says there is no reason why Thailand should offer terms of
intellectual property rights (IPR) protection beyond what’s available within the US legal framework.

Speaking at the public forum organised by the National Economic and Social Advisory Board on the impact of the ongoing Thai-US Free Trade Agreement negotiations, Dr Somkiat Tangkijvanit of the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) pointed out that the IPR protection spelt out in the FTAs the US has concluded with Singapore, Chile and Australia exceeds the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, as well as exceeding what’s written in the US law itself.

In the case of Thailand, the so-called TRIPS plus protection demanded by the US involves four aspects of the pharmaceutical industry. These include the allowance for medicine patent protection to last longer than 20 years in case of delay in patent examination and approval of new drugs. Conditions for compulsory licensing and parallel import of medicine will also be subject to terms stricter than what’s allowed for in TRIPS. The US also demands data exclusivity for drugs testing, which means a five-year delay for market entry of generic drugs which usually rely on such test data for approval.

Dr Somkiat noted that there appears to be no check and balance mechanism for those maximum terms of intellectual property rights protection.

Thailand’s option is to seek to eliminate those TRIPS plus and US Plus terms because there is no justification for Thailand to offer IPR protection beyond the parameter of the US law, in the hopes that the Thai-US FTA “would at least not be worse than the US-Chile FTA,” said Dr Somkiat.