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Least Developed Countries Granted Extension

Mon, 8 Dec 2005 16:52:00 EST

The World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Council for Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) has granted Least-Developed Countries an extension until July 1, 2013, to provide protection for trademarks, copyright, patents and other intellectual property under the WTO Agreement.

January 1, 2006, was the original expiration date for the transition period granted to the least-developed countries. This group of countries has now been granted a further seven and a half years where they will not have to provide intellectual protection unless they graduate from being least developed. However, if they voluntarily provide this protection, they must observe the TRIPS provisions on non-discrimination.

The decision does not affect the transition period for patents for pharmaceutical products, which was agreed in 2002; least-developed countries will not have to protect these patents until 2016.

"This agreement, coming just before the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference, is good news," WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said. "Members have shown that they are ready to ensure that the world?s poorest countries have the flexibility that they need in order to meet their WTO obligations in a way that serves their development needs. This demonstrates what can be achieved in Hong Kong where development is a central issue."

Sources: Tradewatch and WTO's press release.

List of Least-developed countries.

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