Virtual workshop on intricate property rights rules supports Uzbekistan’s WTO accession process

19.07.2021 317

A reliable intellectual property (IP) regime is key to innovation-led development. If a country protects intellectual property rights (IPRs), innovators are ensured that they will rightly benefit from their efforts, which spurs on innovative endeavors. This helps to unlock technological know-how and facilitate its smooth dissemination for the benefit of both producers and users, thereby boosting social and economic welfare.

Multilateral rules that guide the effective and adequate protection of IPRs are set out in the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade Related Intellectually Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS). The agreement focuses on the promotion of trade-led development through the lens of intellectual property, and also includes provisions for the settlement of disputes.

In the process of joining the WTO as a fully-fledged member, Uzbekistan will align its IPR regime with WTO rules. The current legal regime of Uzbekistan regulates the protection and enforcement of IPRs on trademarks, patents, utility models, industrial designs, copyrights and related rights, as well as plant varieties. The country is also party to sixteen international agreements on IPRs, including the Paris Convention, Berne Convention, the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the World Intellectual Property Organization Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT).

Still, the need to formally align the legal regime of the Republic of Uzbekistan with the TRIPS Agreement is a key pillar for its accession to the WTO. A vital underpinning of the endeavor is the capacity to administer this intricate transition. To support Uzbekistan’s IP specialists in this process, the European Union (EU) ‘Facilitating the process of Uzbekistan's accession to the WTO’ project organized a three-day virtual workshop on the TRIPS Agreement and the National IP regime of Uzbekistan in May 2021. Representatives of key government authorities participated in the event, including the Intellectual Property Agency under the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade, the State Customs Committee, the State Tax Committee, and the Agency for the Development of Pharmaceutical Industry.

The purpose of the workshop was to cement an understanding of the key principles of the TRIPS and how they relate to Uzbekistan’s obligations. Discussions focused in particular on:

  • the rights of WTO members to adopt measures to protect public health, nutrition and other public interests, and the prevention of abuse of IPRs;
  • the WTO’s two tenet non-discrimination principles: national treatment, which prohibits discrimination between a member’s own nationals and the nationals of other members; and most-favored-nation treatment, which prohibits discrimination between the nationals of WTO members, notably with regard to ensuring availability, acquisition, scope, maintenance, enforcement and the use of IPRs;
  • the freedom to have higher standards of IPR protection, but not thereby create an obligation; and freedom to determine the appropriate method of implementing the Agreement.

The workshop covered the basic provisions related to the protection and enforcement of key forms of IP rights, including copyright and related rights, trademarks, geographical indications, industrial designs, patents, layout-designs, undisclosed information and trade secrets, and anti-competitive practices.

A part of the workshop was devoted to the discussion of the current state of Uzbekistan’s national IP legislation and ongoing developments in this area. Participants exchanged views on particular aspects of Uzbekistan’s IP regime and legislative reforms that are relevant in the context of accession to the WTO. The Deputy-Director of the Intellectual Property Agency of Uzbekistan Mr. Esemurat Kanyazov commended the seminar for providing “a good opportunity for the personnel of our agency to receive insightful information on the accession process of Uzbekistan to the WTO”.

The workshop continued earlier capacity-building efforts for Uzbekistan’s government officials on the TRIPS Agreement. In December 2020, TRIPS-related issues national reform priorities were discussed during training organized for Uzbekistan’s specialists by the WTO and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), with the support of the ITC through  the EU’s ‘Facilitating the process of Uzbekistan's accession to the WTO’ project.  

The compliance of Uzbekistan’s national IP laws with the norms of the TRIPS Agreement is not only a significant part of the accession to the WTO but will help strengthen the protection of Uzbekistan citizens’ original ideas and trademarks and play a vital part in combatting counterfeit and pirated products. The project will continue to provide technical advice in support of the national regulatory reform process to facilitate the changes required for WTO membership.



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