TWN Info Service on Health Issues (Jun18/02)
12 June 2018
Third World Network

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

South Africa's New Intellectual Property Policy

The South African Cabinet recently approved the new Intellectual Property (IP) Policy for the country prioritising public health as one of its two main themes, the other being international IP Cooperation.

South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) aims to reduce poverty and extreme inequalities through the generation of sustainable and decent jobs. It focuses on knowledge, innovation and technology as drivers of progress, growth and wealth.  The NDP recognises IP Policy as one of the core elements in transitioning towards a knowledge based economy. South Africa’s approach in the comprehensive new IP Policy seeks to be holistic, balanced and coordinated. The Policy is underpinned by the tenets of the South African Constitution. In terms of international IP cooperation, the Policy asserts taking full advantage of the opportunities presented by various international treaties to uplift vulnerable sections of South African society, and contribute to development on the African continent.

The IP Policy has a phased approach. The issues have been categorized into immediate, medium term, and monitoring & evaluation, based primarily on institutional capacity within government, as well as public interest considerations.

The Policy recognizes that a collaborative approach towards IP is necessary to the benefit of the people of South Africa. To that end, the Cabinet approved the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Intellectual Property (IMCIP). The IMCIP will serve as a consultative forum and drafting team aimed at achieving a coordinated approach to the IP Policy formulation process. Further, the IMCIP will work closely with government officials representing South Africa at multilateral forums to ensure harmonised negotiating positions.

The key features of the Policy include substantive examination of pharmaceutical patents; imposition of disclosure requirements on applicants, including the duty to provide information regarding the status of similar and related applications filed in other international jurisdictions; phased-in opposition procedures (pre and post grant); greater use of flexibilities contained in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) including expedited procedures for compulsory licenses and clarification and affirmation of parallel importation; and promoting local manufacture of pharmaceuticals.

The above measures will facilitate access to cheaper medicines through the diversification of supply sources of pharmaceuticals. Reducing reliance on imports will also enable South Africa to ensure the security of supply for its nation, in a manner that takes into account the country’s unique disease burden.

The IP Policy also has as a goal, the protection of traditional knowledge, guarding against misappropriation and exploitation of the same. It further promotes research and development into products and services based on traditional knowledge.

This is the link to the Policy:

With best wishes,
Third World Network