The draft intellectual property policy of the Department of Trade and Industry has been subjected to much debate on these pages between those seeking to preserve the status quo and those in favour of an overhaul. Now, as the policy nears finalisation, a clear understanding of what the status quo entails might just be the best argument for why it should go. The entire legal framework is unjustifiably skewed in favour of patentees. Not only does it provide patent protection significantly in excess of what is required by international law, it goes far beyond what is considered appropriate for a developing country – beginning with the fact that we use a "depository system" in which applicants merely do the paperwork and pay a fee for patent protection, instead of applying for it and being evaluated. There are five crucial ways in which the system benefits patentees at the expense of competition and public interest. First, it places the onus to prove that a patent is invalid on the party...

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