The following communication, dated 14 October 2014, was received from the delegation of the European Union. It reports on activities pursuant to paragraph 1 of the Decision on the Implementation of Article 66.2 of the TRIPS Agreement (IP/C/28) by the European Union, as well as certain of its member States (Austria; Belgium; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Ireland; Luxemburg; the Netherlands; Slovakia; Spain; Sweden; and the United Kingdom).
I. GENERAL REMARKS
This document is circulated in accordance with the Decision of the Council for TRIPS of 19 February 2003, according to which developed country Members shall submit annually reports on actions taken or planned in pursuance of their commitments under Article 66.2 (incentives provided to their enterprises or institutions for the purpose of promoting and encouraging technology transfer to least developed country Members).
As agreed in the Council for TRIPS, this document is a detailed report on technology transfer incentives put in place by the EU and its member States.
II. SCOPE AND NATURE OF INFORMATION PROVIDED
Technology transfer refers here to the ways and means through which companies, individuals and organizations acquire technology or know-how from third parties, whether such technology is IPR protected or not (i.e. including confidential know how).
There are several types of technologies as well as several channels of transmission. Indeed, the acquisition by least developed countries (LDCs) of a sound and viable technological base does not depend solely on the provision of physical objects or equipment, but also on the acquisition of know-how, on management and production skills, on improved access to knowledge sources as well as on adaptation to local economic, social and cultural conditions.
It is clear that the private - and particularly the commercial - sector is nowadays the main source of technologies and, in this context, technology transfer is often one component of a more complex project, rather than a stand-alone activity. Indeed, there are technology transfer aspects in many projects that go under the label of 'technical assistance'. Most projects that deal with sectors such as energy, water, agriculture, governance and infrastructure contain transfer of know how and technology.
In their efforts to encourage and promote technology transfer, developed country governments are usually limited by two factors: (1) they do not own the vast majority of such technologies; (2) they cannot force the private sector to transfer its technologies. Incentives can therefore only take the form of encouragement, promotion and facilitation of projects which are part of a global and comprehensive approach to development.
Technology transfer is considered to include training, education and "know how." Transfer of know how is therefore also contained in projects that deal with education. In addition to formal TT channels such as the transfer or licensing of IP rights and/or know-how, there are several equally important informal TT channels such as the hiring of new university graduates, exchanges of qualified staff, joint research projects; or specific projects related to foreign direct investment (quite often, technology transfer is one component of more complex projects, rather than a stand alone activity). Moreover, access to the right partners, information and expertise are key at all stages.
Finally, it should be borne in mind that no technology transfer programme is specifically dedicated to least developed countries as such. EU initiatives are usually specific to countries/groups of countries/regions, since the EU strongly supports regional integration, which fosters better understanding and political and economic links between neighbouring countries. However, the EU's approach to the allocation of aid and incentives pays particular attention to the situation of the least developed and other low income countries.