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Refereed articles

The TRIPS agreement and South African legislation: The case of the parallel importation of medicines

Esme du Plessis evaluates the topic of parallel importation and the issues facing South Africa in that regard against the background of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and recent South African legislation. Parallel importation issues will become increasingly relevant to the countries of Africa as they emerge as new destinations for technology.

As more countries on the African continent join multiple-filing systems, the protection of intellectual property in African countries will become easier and more attractive. IP owners will not necessarily, however, start manufacturing operations in where they hold rights. It is thus likely that local demand will be met by importation. Parallel traders may thus see an opportunity of profit. The author emphasises the need for a debate amongst African countries and believes much can be learnt from decisions by the European Court of Justice in regard to parallel imports of pharmaceuticals in Europe.

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