‘Seizing’ Pharmaceuticals in Transit: Analysing the WTO Dispute that Wasn’t
(2012) 61(2) International and Comparative Law Quarterly 389-426
38 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2012
Date Written: 2012
Several recent detentions of generic pharmaceutical products transiting through the European Union (EU) for suspected infringements of intellectual property rights raised serious concerns for public health advocates and threatened to expose systemic problems existing in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The detentions not only garnered international attention, but India and Brazil formally began WTO dispute settlement proceedings against the EU. The parties recently reached a mutually agreed solution to the matter and the proceedings have been halted, leaving unanswered the complex legal and technical questions raised by the detentions of pharmaceuticals in transit. Despite a solution being reached in this dispute, the matter will undoubtedly resurface in the near future for a number of reasons. For instance, the EU is attempting to export its laws to its trading partners through the negotiation of free trade agreements and in other forums such as the recently concluded Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement which increases the likelihood that similar detentions will occur at some point in the future. Moreover, recent trends in international intellectual property law indicate a move towards increased protection and enforcement in at least the short and medium term. The issue therefore offers the opportunity for rich legal analysis into an under-explored, yet increasingly important, aspect of the WTO law.
Keywords: WTO, intellectual property, TRIPS, GATT, generic pharmaceuticals, access to medicines
JEL Classification: K23, K30, K33, K42, O34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation