EU, Canada tout progress in free trade talks

July 15, 2011

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Patrick Kierans comments to Reuters on the need for improved IP rights for pharmaceuticals in Canada—as Canada and the European Union negotiate a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

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Also on the table are intellectual property-rights issues such as data protection and patent-term restoration, where Canada is lagging behind other developed countries, said Patrick Kierans, who heads the pharmaceuticals and life sciences practice at global law firm Norton Rose Group. This is a concern for drug companies.

“To be competitive, to attract investment, we have to have protection that is considered world class,” Kierans said in Toronto. “What we really need is an equal playing field.”

Canada offers eight years of patent protection, he said. That compares with 10 years in the European Union, he added, noting that two years can prove crucial in drug research.

Also, Canada does not offer patent-term restoration, which gives retroactive patent protection for the period between the application for a patent and granting of a patent.

“If European companies come to Canada, they are going to get less protection than they do in Europe. Canada needs to bring its patent laws up to global standards,” Kierans said.