bilaterals.org logo
bilaterals.org logo

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.


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.
Will the RCEP morph into another TPP?
In highlighting that the drafts of many of its key chapters are substantially similar to those of the TPP, Sanya Reid Smith warns that the RCEP may end up as a replica of the former.
Will the Trans Pacific Partnership have an impact on Indian pharma industry?
Implications of the TPP on the Indian pharma industry might not be entirely clear yet. But there is a need for India to engage in the debate of trade deals and public interest.
Women’s intervention at the RCEP TNC 18th round stakeholders’ meeting in Philippines
The RCEP will only further marginalize women
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, intellectual property protection and access to medicines
This paper identifies TRIPS-Plus provisions in leaked RCEP negotiating texts and examines their implications for low and middle-income countries.