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IP rules to be changed to give access to environmental technology

5 December, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

On 20 November 2007, the Members of the European Parliament (EP) approved a report that asks for the revision of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in order to allow the compulsory licensing of patented environmental technologies.

The European Parliament considers developing countries should be able to have free access to the technologies developed to target the environmental issues such as climate change. This action comes also as a result of the environmental activists' criticism of the EU Global Paper stating the intention to ask for a high level of Intellecutual Property (IP) standards on European markets. According to environmental activists, such a policy creates problems for developing countries that cannot afford expensive environmentally-friendly technologies.

"With a high IPR (intellectual property rights) regime, products and processes are now patented and less accessible (...) So to really achieve the transfer of climate-friendly technology, the biggest incentive would be to eliminate IPRs related to these technologies." said campaigner Meena Raman from Friends of the Earth group.

Dalindyebo Shabalala of the Center for International Environmental Law in Geneva believes TRIPS should include clearer provisions on the patent excepts related to public health and environmental emergencies and waiving patents should ensure wider availability of fuel-efficient cars.

French Green MEP Alain Lipietz, the author of the EP report drafted in preparation to the international conference on climate change taking place between 3-14 December 2007 in Bali, Indonesia, considers that not only IP rules should be revised but also tariffs on "green goods" should be eliminated and means should be found to subsidise polluting industries.

On the other hand, Stavros Dimas, the European commissioner for the environment, stated that the cost of the IP rights in such technologies is a relatively small part of the whole cost and that there are other issues to be taken into consideration when talking about barriers to technology transfer such as the economical policies of the developing countries. He considers that many companies are not willing to invest in developing countries where their IP rights are not protected and "if capacity-building in the host country is inadequate."

More discussions on all the types of barriers to the transfer of environmentally-friendly technologies will be held during the present conference in Bali.

EU Parliament Urges Change In IP Rules For Environmental Technology (29.11.2007)

European Parliament resolution of 29 November 2007 on trade and climate change (29.11.2007)



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