The WHO settled a long standing dispute between India and the European Union (EU) by clarifying that ‘counterfeit’— will now be used by member States with respect to protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
Last year, India has opposed the proposed European Trademark rules that will allow European Union (EU) customs officials to seize goods in transit on grounds of suspected trademark violations. India fears the provision will be used, like in the past, to seize low-cost generic medicines headed for African and Latin American countries at EU ports.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now dropped the term ‘counterfeit’ and retained ‘falsified’ to describe medicines of inferior quality.
The terms were being used interchangeably to confiscated Indian made generic drugs exported to other countries by showing that they were in violation of intellectual property.
The European Union Free Trade Agreement (EU FTA) had reached a deadlock after affordable, safe-to-use generic drugs made in India were confiscated as ‘illegal’ and ‘counterfeit.’
Nearly 20 shipments of generic drugs, including basic antibiotics and anti-retrovirals, were detained while in transit from India to several developing countries via Europe between 2008 and 2009, derailing the free trade agreement negotiations.
The term ‘counterfeit’ was being described substandard or falsified medicines even though, under international law, — the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) — the definition of counterfeit is clearly targeted at one particular area: wilful infringement of trademark on a commercial scale.