Exceptions to Patent Rights in Developing Countries
(2006; 105 pages)


This Paper examines the principles and practice of “exceptions to patent rights”, especially as regards developing countries.

Many WTO Members (“Members”) are convinced of the utility of the patent system in encouraging research and development activity for new inventions. Many other Members are less confident of the benefits of the patent system and indeed are concerned about the dangers that the patent system poses, in terms of, for example, the impact that it and other intellectual property rights syste ms will have on their economic and social welfare. Where the line is drawn between those areas that are the preserve of the patent holder to control, and those areas which the patent holder may not control, is therefore a very important policy question for Members. The subject of this Paper relates to one aspect of this policy question, that is to say, “exceptions to patent rights”, which for present purposes, is taken to mean certain “safe harbour” areas of activity where the rights of a patent holder do not extend. Other limitations of the rights of patent holders and other matters such as the scope of patentability of inventions or the compulsory licensing of patents are outside the scope of this Paper, although they are touched on as and when appropriate.

This Paper is divided into four sections: Exceptions existing at the time of the TRIPS Agreement, Exceptions under the TRIPS Agreement, State practice on exceptions under the TRIPS Agreement and a Policy Process for considering new exceptions.

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