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Ghana Trips Over the TRIPS Agreement on Plant Breeders’ Rights

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The premise under which the global Intellectual Property Right (IPR) system is validated has often focused on a traditional materialistic approach. While this seems to find legitimate support in economic reasoning, such a fundamental view also appears to contradict a related social norm claim, which dictates that society ought to be shaped by appropriate values rather than economic rubrics. Although Ghana is not a signatory member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants Convention (UPOV Convention), there is explicit evidence that the Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBRs) Bill under consideration in the Ghanaian Parliament contains provisions modelled on the UPOV Act 1991 rather than the potentially flexible and effective sui generis system in TRIPS. This paper aims to contribute to a recently active area of discussion on the topic by examining the consequences of stringent legislation on PBRs in the absence of adequate safeguard measures to protect the public interest. Consequently, the hypothesis of this paper rests on the argument that every system needs checks and balances and the legislative system is no exception. The conclusion is that Ghana should not ignore the effective sui generis system under TRIPS for the PBRs modelled around the UPOV Convention because the latter does not entail adequate safeguard provisions and stands to devalue the public interest.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Commercial Law StudiesQueen Mary University of London


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