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Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 13 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will take steps to ensure that the EU does not negotiate bilateral deals which oblige countries to adopt intellectual property standards or timetables which go beyond trade-related intellectual property rights. (76241)

[holding answer 12 June 2006]: The UK position on intellectual property rights in bilateral and regional agreements was published in the Government response to the report of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights following recommendation 77 of the Commission under chapter 8—The International Architecture. This is available at the following website: _response.htm.

The Government state clearly that bilateral and other agreements should not, as a matter of course, oblige countries to adopt intellectual property standards or timetables that go beyond the requirements of the World Trade Organisation Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. They also makes the further commitment that

“For our part, we will seek to ensure that EU agreements with developing countries avoid imposing obligations beyond TRIPS”.

I can confirm that UK negotiators are routinely briefed regarding this commitment.

The TRIPS Agreement, however, sets minimum standards and not a maximum level of intellectual property protection. It is therefore within a government’s sovereign right to enhance their intellectual property protection if they judge it to be in their country’s interest, including as part of an overall package of trade issues which make up a bilateral trade agreement.