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Government of Uganda must revise the Industrial Properties Bill so that Ugandans can access medicine easily, the executive director of Center for health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) has said.

 “Uganda’s obligation to have the bill in place by 2013 should be taken advantage of if access to essential medicines is to be protected in the country,” he said. The bill is meant to enable the public access essential medicines any time they need them.

According to Mr Moses Mulumba, the executive director of CEHURD, this bill needs to take full advantage of the flexibilities provided for under the TRIPS Agreement.

While the Bill aims at protecting and encouraging innovators in the country, it has taken advantage of the 2016 transition period for the introduction of pharmaceutical products patent protection. This is over the broad as low developed countries can request for extension to put in place enforcement measures after the 2016 deadline.

The Bill is part of the programme of reform of commercial laws of Uganda to support private sector development, commercial justice reform and to encourage private investment.

 The objective of this bill is to provide for the promotion of inventive and innovative activities, to facilitate the acquisition of technology through the grant and regulations of the patents, utility models, technovations and industrial designs, to provide for the designations of registrar, the powers and functions of the registrar and the establishment of a register of industrial property rights and for incidental and connected purposes.

 The bill also undermines the early entry of generic versions of patented medicines by restricting the preparatory work to scientific research, leaving out generic medicines that tend to be cheaper. Generics will not enter the market as soon as the patent for the originator medicine expires.

 It further requires applicants for a compulsory license to go through the lengthy court processes, yet procedures for granting such a license should be simple and expeditious.   

 The competition bill links intellectual property issues with competition legislations by providing that the prohibition of certain anticompetitive agreements does not restrict the right of any person to restrain any infringement of intellectual property rights granted in Uganda or to impose such reasonable conditions as may be necessary for the purposes of processing or exploiting such intellectual rights.

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