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RCEP & intellectual property

An analysis of the leaked IP chapter proposed for the RCEP shows that Japan and South Korea are proposing intellectual property (IP) provisions referred to as TRIPS-plus, which go far beyond the obligations under the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

The proposed provisions seek to extend pharmaceutical corporations’ patent terms beyond the usual 20 years and also would require data exclusivity that limits competition. Such provisions are a cause for great concern among public health groups over their potential adverse impact on access to affordable medicines.

RCEP also treats IP as an investment made by investor corporations, allowing private investment disputes (ISDS) to be raised against the host country whenever there is a threat to their IP. Treating IP as an investment, and subjecting it to treaty arbitration, can have undesirable impacts on the hard-bargained flexibilities in IP laws and on public health safeguards that countries like India have earned over the years.

Further, civil society groups have expressed concern about the copyright protection standards proposed under the RCEP IP Chapter which could stifle creativity and free speech.

The leaked IP chapter also pushes for accession by all RCEP member states to the 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991), to which only seven of the RCEP negotiating countries are already member. UPOV 1991 provides monopoly rights to plant breeder rights at the cost of farmers’ rights, making it illegal for farmers to save seeds of protected vartieties.

Data exclusivity provisions in the IP chapter may extend the patent protection periods of agrochemical products as well, putting upward pressure on food prices.

RCEP governments must recall their international, regional and national commitments to respect, protect and fulfill the right to health including the right to access affordable medicines. In their quest for greater economic integration, RCEP negotiating countries must not put the lives and health of millions of people in the Asia-Pacific region at risk.


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New rules on IP rights and e-commerce to be set under RCEP free trade agreement
A common set of rules on intellectual property (IP) and e-commerce and a new scope of trade for telecommunication services are among some of the expected benefits that will arise from the RCEP agreement when it is signed next year.
Trade ministers of RCEP to hold key meet next week
Trade ministers of the 16-nation RCEP grouping will meet in Bangkok on October 10-12, in what could be the last ministerial before a potential deal is sealed in November.
Don’t trade our lives away in free trade negotiations
To sign the RCEP and start negotiations on a FTA with the US when the Indian economy is on the brink of economic downturn and needs strong domestic policies is a decision that is not in national or public interest.
Administrative enforcement of IP: Lessons of KORUS for RCEP
KORUS grants a power to the customs authorities to suspend release of suspected counterfeit or pirated goods into free circulation when a right holder requests to do so with “adequate evidence”.
Why TRIPS-plus IPR enforcement is bad: Lessons of KORUS for RCEP
One of the main purposes of the US in bilateral negotiation is to level up the enforcement of IPRs, especially enhanced enforcement provisions that the US sought but failed in achieving at the TRIPS negotiation.
Civil enforcement of IPR: Lessons of KORUS for RCEP
The provisions for civil enforcement are to ensure to the maximum extent the economic interests of IP holders. For the full compensation for them, KORUS intervenes the way to calculate the amount of damages.
Criminal enforcement of copyright and unintended consequences: Lessons of KORUS for RCEP
Soon after the signing of the Korea-US FTA (“KORUS”) in June 2007, South Korea experienced a dramatic increase of complaints of copyright crime from 2007.
Keep agriculture and dairy out of RCEP negotiations, farmers’ body tells government
The RCEP will destroy farm livelihoods especially in the domestic dairy sector.
Old wine in new bottles: Keep TRIPS-plus provisions out of the RCEP FTA!
Intellectual property barriers, which would hinder access to affordable medicines, have supposedly been removed from the draft RCEP free-trade agreement (FTA).
India protects drug, agriculture business at RCEP
Three harmful provisions concerning pharmaceuticals and agriculture which were part of the RCEP have been withdrawn.
Thai CSOs’ proposition against IP enforcement in the RCEP negotiation
FTA Watch would like to urge the Thai negotiation team for the RCEP to have a strong position to reject proposals on Intellectual Property Enforcement chapter.
PepsiCo controversy: Globally, India has always refused to give in on IPR on plant varieties
The struggle for farmers’ rights over their seeds and planting materials is not playing out only in India – it’s a global phenomena.
Is Indonesia’s IPR Framework incompatible with RCEP?
On intellectual property rights, there’s a serious gap between domestic Indonesian law and the structures of the proposed RCEP
Investment protection proposals under RCEP threaten India’s pharma industry
Free trade agreements like the RCEP will infringe on India’s intellectual property laws. India must stand its ground in the interest of public health.
RCEP talks: Farmers, civil society bodies warn against obligations on patenting seeds, plant varieties
Farmer and CSOs stressing that India should not agree to obligations with respect to IP on seed and planting materials at the RCEP negotiations as it hurt the livelihood of poor farmers.
Philippine civil society letter on RCEP & plant variety protection
The undersigned signatories are writing to strongly stress that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations must not place any obligation on the Philippines or any other developing country to join or implement UPOV systems
Malaysian civil society & farmer groups’ memorandum on RCEP & plant variety protection
RCEP negotiations must not include obligation to join or implement UPOV systems and in anyway undermine farmers’ rights
Sign-on letter from India against IPR on seed
A mega free trade agreement, like RCEP that undermines farmers’ seed freedoms in a mega diverse country, with seed diversity and farmers’ knowledge is unacceptable, say over 50 groups and citizens
Indonesia and RCEP: Beware the public health risks
Proposals from Japan and South Korea would require patent law changes in several RCEP countries, including Indonesia.
RCEP and affordable medicines: Civil society reaches out to Minister of Commerce Suresh Prabhu
Civil society organisations, patient groups and health activists have been concerned about intellectual property provisions being discussed in RCEP which undermine access to medicines and affordable treatment for patients