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A few weeks ago, this blogger explained here why the TRIPS Council must extend the least developing countries (LDCs) TRIPS Agreement compliance transition period for the second time now (the first transition period was for 10 years as enshrined under the TRIPS Agreement and the second period was for another 7.5 years and is due to expire shortly).

A few hours ago, the TRIPS Council granted Haiti’s application on behalf of LDCs to extend the transition period ‘unconditionally’. This means that the ‘no-roll-back’ clause insisted upon by EU and US will not be applicable. In this regard, the LDCs are free to review their laws to take advantage of intellectual property (IP) in order to assist in their development.

However, the current ‘unconditional’ extension is limited to eight years until 1 July 2021. This is undoubtedly troubling considering that the request made by LDCs was for an indefinite period of time. According to they, compliance with the TRIPS Agreement should only be demanded upon graduation to a developing country status. Come 2021, the LDCs will have to submit another request. Moreover, the TRIPS Council failed to address the 2016 extension allowed for the enforcement of pharmaceutical patents. By implication, come 2016, the LDCs would have to seek another extension this time for pharmaceutical patents.

Notwithstanding, LDCs can now enjoy the fruits of their labour and double their efforts to access and utilise innovations and technologies without having to worry about international trade and legal sanctions.

Eight years is a short time but, hopefully, at the expiry of this new term, most LDCs will have graduated to a developing countries status. It will be harder to obtain another extension for all LDCs in the future upon the expiry of this new term.

Lastly, this wonderful achievement would have not been made possible without the participation and solidarity of civil society organizations (CSOs), States and academicians.

Congratulations are indeed in order!