There does not seem to be a widely held view among WTO members of the proper role and scope of TRIPS. One of the main reasons why TRIPS is controversial is because it allocates rights in innovation, some would say beyond the bounds of what a trade agreement should seek to do. The lines of the debate are often conceptualized in terms of 'developing' versus 'developed' country differences. One of the major areas of disagreement is how TRIPS deals with rights in biotechnology. Some developing countries are relatively rich in biodiversity and traditional knowledge but poor in capital and scientific expertise, while some developed countries are headquarters to firms developing this biodiversity and traditional knowledge into commercially exploitable forms of intellectual property. This paper examines how the European Community comes to this debate. It reviews the institutional history of the positions of the European Community and other WTO members during the ministerial conferences succeeding the Uruguay Round. It examines European law relating to biotechnological innovation, in search of European policy coherence on the subject. It also explains the European view of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the European Community's take on how the CBD relates to TRIPS. The European Community position on TRIPS coverage of biotechnological innovation does not depart significantly from the United States position or from the position of the Quad group of countries generally. Given the highly contentious nature of the subject and the sometimes-vociferous developing country opposition to strong intellectual property protection, it is likely that TRIPS and biotechnology will be one of the more hotly contested topics of the Doha Round.
John Linarelli, Trade-Related Aspects of International Property Rights and Biotechnology: European Aspects, 6 SINGAPORE J. INT’L & COMP. L. 406 (2002).
Singapore Journal of International & Comparative Law