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Heinrich Böll Foundation, (hbs), Latin America Department  
Centre for Research and Documentation Chile-Latin America (FDCL):

Symposium 2.-3. June 2005:




Intellectual Property versus Development and Human Rights?


For more than two decades heavy debates are being led on an international level about the attempt to implement patent legislation on an international basis: at the multilateral levels of WIPO and the WTO, on a regional level in free trade agreements like NAFTA and free trade negotiations like EU-MERCOSUR, ALCA etc., as well as on the bilateral level between states (bilateral investment agreements, bilateral intellectual property agreements, bilateral trade agreements).

The advocates for a broadening of international patent legislation allege technological progress and the need to protect innovative creativity and inventive and research spirit while they warn of the economic and development damages which may be produced by the non-implementation of these rights. "Counterfeiting and piracy are a threat to innovation and creativity. They currently account for between 5% and 7% of international trade and damage to the Community is estimated at over 2 billion euros" (EU-Commission IP/03/1059, july 22, 2003). In February of 2005 the EU-Commission added:

"According to studies carried out by the OECD in 1998 and by the International Chamber of Commerce in 1997, counterfeit accounted for 5-7% of world trade (i.e. approximately 250 billion euro per year) and was responsible for the loss of 200,000 jobs in Europe. The World Economic Forum in 2003 estimated the cost of counterfeit and piracy at 450 billion euros" (EU Kommission MEMO/05/40, vom 8. Februar 2005).

Critics, however, adduce the extremely conflicting relationship between the broadening of international patent legislation and the areas of food-sovereignty, agriculture, biodiversity, enviroment protection, health and the access to medicine, traditional knowledge, technological transfer and the different development stages of countries.
The "right to intellectual property" should rather be contrasted by a "context-sensitive right to intellectual property" or the "Commons"-concept of public goods.

The first seminar block of the symposium jointly organized by the hbs and the FDCL will be devoted to the question "Patents versus development? International Intellectual Property Rights in the conflict between North and South" (see annex I), the second block will focus on the discussion of country-(region-) specific positions of Brazil / MERCOSUR and the EU in multilateral and bilateral negotiations while the third block will be dedicated to challenges and alternatives, taking as an example the area of IPRs and health.