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US fights for change to TRIPs practices

The US, backed by Switzerland, has urged the WTO TRIPs Council to end the trade body’s moratorium on non-violation disputes

At a meeting of the TRIPs Council on Wednesday, the US government claimed that so-called non-violation disputes are in-line with the TRIPs agreement, GATT and WTO rules on legal disputes brought before the trade organisation.

The WTO allows governments to complain to its dispute settlement body where they can show that the actions of another member state have deprived them of an expected benefit – even if they cannot show that the member has broken one of its WTO commitments. These so-called non-violation disputes proved particularly controversial in the area of IP, however, and there has been a moratorium on their use for TRIPs disputes since 1995.

The moratorium was extended for two years at the Bali ministerial conference in December.

Switzerland supported the US. But representatives of other delegations, including Japan and the EU, said they need more time to study the US paper. Most added that they still consider non-violation cases to be inappropriate in intellectual property and referred to arguments made in previous meetings and some cited a paper they circulated 12 years ago.

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