India has proposed a roadmap before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to facilitate the development and transfer of environmentally sound technology (EST) among WTO member countries to address the challenges of climate change.

In a communication to WTO's Working Group on Trade and Transfer of Technology Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Committee on Trade and Environment on October 10, India said the roadmap intends to reinvigorate discussions on the relationship between trade and transfer of EST to developing countries to address climate change.

India's suggestions talk about the establishment of a database for ESTs and  link with a technology transfer platform, streamlining of licensing practices and enabling developing countries to use TRIPS flexibilities.

On the establishment of a WTO web portal based on robust synergies with existing databases of ESTs and climate technologies, India wanted WTO members to consider how the nature of information collated can be strengthened through effective transparency and notification requirements to enable information about patent-protected ESTs held by both private and public sector entities. The proposal highlighted the need for a proper tracking and sharing of information and data on experiences with implementation of specific technologies, and their environmental impact. It also talked about the importance of having a bridge between access to information on patent-protected ESTs, and actual transfer of ESTs and associated knowhow to developing countries.

As part of streamlining of licensing practices, India called for the inclusion of a mechanism under the TRIPS Agreement to promote open and adaptable technology licensing for results obtained from research into climate change and ESTs financed through public funds. It wanted the establishment of publicly funded, or publicly owned technology inventory by developed countries. It also wanted the developed country members to consider making available information concerning technologies patented or funded for at least 50 per cent, either directly or indirectly, by the government or any public body within their territory. Promoting innovative IP rights-sharing arrangements for the joint development of environmental goods and services among firms in developed and developing countries through effective national regulations and bilateral, regional, plurilateral or multilateral agreements was another suggestion.

Regarding full use of TRIPs Flexibilities, India has proposed exemption from patentability, on a case-by-case basis, for inventions whose exploitation is vital for the diffusion of ESTs needed for adaptation and/or mitigation of climate change crisis. Reduction in the term of protection for a patent in order to facilitate free access to specific patented ESTs because of urgent need in the public interest, waiver on patents on climate-friendly products and ESTs and  grant of royalty-free voluntary licenses to address climate crises were also proposed.

The proposals have come at a time when WTO's 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) is scheduled to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

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