Monday, November 16, 2020

RCEP: No Term Extension for Patents and Copyright



On 15 Nov 2020, Malaysia signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) along with 9 ASEAN members, Japan, China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. It is the largest regional free trade agreement in the world which accounts for 30 percent of world population and economy.

It aims to reduce tariffs and cost for trade between countries. It also touches on intellectual property.

In 2018, Malaysia has signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). According to CPTPP, members must provide patent term extension for delays in pharmaceutical approval. The copyright term for published works is 70 years minimum. Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Singapore and New Zealand have ratified the CPTPP. Malaysia has not given any indication on when the CPTPP will be ratified.

I have participated in several CPTPP discussions. A few people have raised displeasure over the patent term extension. Malaysia produces a number of generic medicines.

In RCEP, there is no patent term extension for pharmaceutical delays. The copyright term for published works is 50 years minimum, in line with the Berne Convention.

Malaysia is centrally located in both RCEP and CPTPP. Shall Malaysia ratify CPTPP? It depends on whether Malaysia wants to be a nation that consumes IP or produces IP.

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