Fix The Patent Laws

South Africa’s Intellectual Property Policy: process for public consultation?

Posted on | February 14, 2012 | No Comments

South Africa is currently developing a policy for intellectual property protection in the country. On 19 August 2011 it was reported that Jodi Scholtz, group COO of the DTI stated:

 “The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) intends to submit the Intellectual Property (IP) draft policy to Cabinet next month to secure approval to undertake wider public consultation.”[1]

Ms Scholtz statement was made following the August 2011 Indaba on intellectual property which, according to a statement released by the Department of Trade and Industry, aimed to inform the development of the IP policy.

 “The purpose of the Indaba was to discuss Intellectual Property issues to assist in the Intellectual Property Policy development process which will inform the review or reforms of the Intellectual Property Laws in South Africa amongst others such as, Trade Mark Act, Copy Right Act, Design Act, and Counterfeit Goods Act.

“A unanimous agreement from all participants was that our laws are outdated in terms of the new technologies which are coming–up on a daily basis and that the enforcement legislation needs to be revised in order to have an effective enforcement of Intellectual Property rights…”[2]

Additionally, in response to a 20 July 2011 letter to DTI Minister Rob Davies from TAC, expressing our concerns with the Economic Partnership Agreement under negotiation between SACU, Angola and Mozambique with the European Union, we received further details on the policy from the Minister:

 “The Government is developing an Intellectual Property Policy (IP Policy) which will also address access to medicines and public health issues… The IP Policy will also establish a framework for legislative reform across all areas of IP policy to ensure a consistent approach that contributes positively to the economic and social interest of South Africa.

“The Policy will provide clarity as to which sections of the Patents Act 57 of 1978 and the Medicines Control and Related Substances Act 101 of 1965 require amendment to ensure that the flexibilities relating to access to medicine and health are incorporated into national legislation.”[3]

After receiving this letter, TAC followed up with the representative of the DTI to whom we were referred by the Minister, requesting details of when and how the process for public consultation on the policy will be carried out. We received confirmation that a working document has been developed and that public consultation will be carried out. However, our follow up requests for specific details of the consultation have not been answered to date.





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  • About the Campaign

    fix the patent laws
    Fix the Patent Laws is a campaign co-founded by SECTION27, Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in 2011. Since then, the coalition has grown to include 38 other organisations fighting together to push South Africa to amend its patent laws to prioritise public health. Through this blog we will highlight how amending South Africa’s Patents Act 57 of 1978 will reduce the cost of medicines, improving the health and saving the lives of millions of South Africans.

    The members of the Fix the Patent Laws Campaign are as follows: Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Doctors Without Borders (MSF), SECTION27, the South African Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (SANCD Alliance), DiabetesSA, EpilepsySA, Marie Stopes South Africa, Stop Stock Outs Project (SSP), South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), Cape Mental Health (CMH), the South African Federation of Mental Health (SAFMH), Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorders Alliance (SABDA), as well as the following members of the Cancer Alliance and Advocates for Breast Cancer: Breast Course 4 Nurses, Breast Health Foundation, Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), Cancer Heroes, Can-Sir, CanSurvive, Care for Cancer Foundation, Childhood Cancer Foundation of South Africa (CHOC), Hospice Palliative Care Association (HPCA), Igazi Foundation, Look Good Feel Better, Love your Nuts, Lymphoedema Association of South Africa (LAOSA), Men’s Foundation, National Council Against Smoking, National Oncology Nursing Association of SA, Pancreatic Cancer Network of SA (PanCan), People Living With Cancer (PLWC), Pink Trees for Pauline, Pink Phoenix Cancer Foundation, Pocket Cancer Support, Project Flamingo, Rainbows and Smiles, Reach for Recovery, South African Oncology Social Work Forum (SAOSWF), The Pink Parasol Project, The Sunflower Fund, Vrede Foundation and Wings of Hope.

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