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EU Commission Cites Systemic IP Barriers in Southeast Asia

Strong intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement is critical to helping countries attract foreign investment, promote economic growth, provide greater access to medicines and improve patient outcomes. Unfortunately, according to a report from the European Commission, inventors continue to face IP barriers in some Southeast Asian countries.

The biennial Report on the Protection and Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Third Countries cites Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand as priority countries that will need to strengthen their IP regulations to stay globally competitive. While all three countries have made efforts to improve IP, limited progress has been made.

Malaysia has broken the patent on an innovative medicine – a drastic action known as “compulsory licensing.” It fails to provide effective regulatory data protection for new medicines.

Indonesia appears sincere in its desire to improve IP protections, but concrete and meaningful actions are needed.  Indonesia’s government has made regulatory improvements and implemented new standards to bring the country’s trademark law closer to international standards. However, Indonesia has imposed impermissible limits on what kinds of inventions can be patented and fails to provide protections required by global trade rules for clinical trial and other test data submitted for marketing approval of new medicines. Following through on their commitment to amend the existing Patent Law would send a strong signal that Indonesia is serious about improving their standing as a destination for investment in innovative sectors.

According to the report, despite the current Thai government and Department of Intellectual Property’s commitments and efforts to enforce IP regulations, EU stakeholders are continuously concerned over Thailand’s top rank as a source of counterfeit and pirated goods across all sectors – including pharmaceuticals – and the lack of adequate legal patent protections.

Efficient, well-designed and balanced IPR systems are the key to building global partnerships, promoting investment in innovation and growth, and improving health outcomes for those living in Southeast Asia. To benefit patients and to open the doors to economic growth and progress, these countries should improve intellectual property protection and enforcement as outlined by the European Commission’s report.

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