Intellectual Property

Policy Brief 129, 7 May 2024

The WIPO Diplomatic Conference for a Treaty on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge

By Viviana Muñoz Tellez

A new international legal instrument is set to be concluded under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in May 2024. Its legal nature should be that of an international treaty, given that a Diplomatic Conference, the last treaty making stage, will be held for its conclusion. The purpose of the instrument (hereinafter “the Treaty”) is to create an international minimum standard for patent applicants to provide information concerning the origin or source of the genetic resources or traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources as part of the patent application process. This Policy Brief provides an overview of the rationale for the Treaty and of the process and substantive issues to be negotiated, and advances recommendations towards ensuring a successful conclusion of the Diplomatic Conference.

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SouthViews No. 263, 1 May 2024

The Protection of Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions, Expressions of Folklore and Genetic Resources Within the African Continental Free Trade Area – Alignment with International and Regional Developments  

By Caroline B. Ncube

The adoption of the Protocol on Intellectual Property Rights under the Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area presents an opportune moment to consider a continental framework for the protection of Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions, Expressions of Folklore and Genetic Resources. This SouthViews considers lessons which can be drawn from national laws, using South Africa as an example, for the relevant Annex to be negotiated under the protocol.

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Statements on IPRs of BBNJ, April 2024

Statements on Understanding on Intellectual Property Rights at time of Signature or Ratification of the BBNJ Treaty

South Centre

The Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) negotiations did not fully address issues of intellectual property rights (IPRs), but countries can make statements on IPRs at the time of signature and/or on ratification of the BBNJ. Read our recommendations:

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SouthViews No. 261, 23 April 2024

Proposal for a new Article 11bis in the WHO Pandemic Accord: a Pandemic Technology Transfer Mechanism

by Olga Gurgula and Luke McDonagh

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the failure of voluntary mechanisms during global emergencies and exemplifies the need for effective involuntary technology transfer tools. The WHO Pandemic Accord offers an opportunity to provide an effective mechanism to build upon existing TRIPS flexibilities in the specific pandemic context. We propose a new provision (Article 11bis) that outlines a mechanism on cross-border procedure of non-voluntary technology transfer during a pandemic. This procedure could be invoked in a pandemic scenario in which voluntary technology transfer mechanisms have failed to provide sufficient supplies of a needed pandemic product.

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Documento de investigación 196, 19 de abril de 2024

Licencias obligatorias para exportación: operacionalización en el orden jurídico argentino  

Por Valentina Delich

En el año 2017, entró en vigor la enmienda del Acuerdo sobre los Derechos de Propiedad Intelectual relacionados con el Comercio (ADPIC), por la cual se incluyó el artículo 31 bis en su texto. Esta disposición permite las licencias obligatorias para exportación a terceros países sin o con insuficiente capacidad de producción local. El objetivo es paliar las dificultades de los países sin infraestructura de producción de medicamentos para que puedan hacer un uso efectivo de las licencias obligatorias y así fortalecer el acceso a los medicamentos a un menor precio. Argentina es un país que tiene infraestructura de producción de medicamentos y potencialmente podría devenir en un exportador eficiente. Este documento explora la posible instrumentación del art. 31 bis en la legislación de Argentina, proponiendo incorporar en la ley de patentes nacional el instituto de la licencia obligatoria humanitaria.

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Policy Brief 127, 17 April 2024

Unlocking the Potential of Copyright Limitations and Exceptions (L&Es)

by Faith O. Majekolagbe

Copyright limitations and exceptions (L&Es) are vital tools for creativity, innovation, access to knowledge and education, and human capital formation. All of these are crucial to the development of societies and achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A strong system of well-defined copyright L&Es guarantees the public adequate access and use of the cultural goods and knowledge that are critical to achieving development goals. This paper identifies and discusses specific clusters of L&Es that are essential for achieving the SDGs. These clusters should be recognized and implemented in copyright laws at national, regional, and international levels to strengthen development objectives. Instead of applying specific L&Es to all countries, regardless of their unique developmental needs, recognizing these clusters of L&Es could help design an approach to international copyright law that is centred around development. Ultimately, this approach would provide greater flexibility in designing development programs that align with the SDGs and recognize copyright law’s inherent development rationale.

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SouthViews No. 260, 20 March 2024

Patent rights and misappropriation of traditional knowledge: the case of the Amazonian Mirantã

By Marcos Vinício Chein Feres

This article aims to understand whether there are any signs of misappropriation enabled by the international patent system in the case of associated traditional knowledge to Mirantã, a plant (genetic resource – GR) found in the Amazon Basin. There is clear correspondence between the traditional uses of Mirantã and patent claims found, which are, or may at least hint at, evidence of the misappropriation of traditional knowledge. More generally, this confirms the perspective of the existence of a coloniality of knowledge as in many jurisdictions, due to the lack of measures to protect traditional knowledge against misappropriation (e.g., via a disclosure requirement in patent applications), these patents are for now deemed valid.

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SouthViews No. 258, 11 March 2024

New US Policy on Exercise of March-In Rights to Curb High Drug Prices: Lessons for the Global South

By Nirmalya Syam

In response to soaring prescription drug costs, the United States government recently announced proposed changes to the exercise of march-in rights under the Bayh-Dole Act, allowing federal agencies to license taxpayer-funded inventions to other parties based on factors such as accessibility and affordability. This article explores the implications of the US policy shift on global pharmaceutical pricing and access, particularly for developing countries. Drawing parallels between the US approach and flexibilities under intellectual property laws such as compulsory licensing and government use authorizations that are allowed under the WTO TRIPS Agreement, the article suggests that similar strategies could be employed by developing nations to address public health needs and economic considerations.

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Documento de investigación 195, 6 de marzo de 2024

Régimen de licencias obligatorias y uso público no comercial en Argentina 

Por Juan Ignacio Correa

Con la adopción del Acuerdo sobre los Aspectos de Propiedad Intelectual relacionados con el Comercio (ADPIC), la Argentina debió adaptarse a las nuevas reglas internacionales en materia de derecho de patentes. Uno de los puntos centrales del Acuerdo es la posibilidad de establecer diferentes formas de licencias obligatorias y uso gubernamental no comercial. Este documento analiza las condiciones previstas en el artículo 31 del ADPIC con ese fin y examina en detalle las diferentes causales de licencias obligatorias contempladas en la legislación argentina y las condiciones aplicables a cada una de ellas, así como para el uso de patentes por parte del gobierno con fines no comerciales. Finalmente, con base en el margen normativo del ADPIC y la legislación vigente, el documento discute el posible contenido de una reglamentación de licencias obligatorias y uso público no comercial que permita a la Argentina utilizar de manera efectiva esas herramientas cuando se presente alguna de las circunstancias previstas en la actual regulación.

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SouthViews No. 256, 22 February 2024

How Should the WHO Pandemic Treaty Negotiations Tackle Intellectual Property?

By Viviana Muñoz Tellez

The WHO pandemic instrument should commit the Parties to limit the exclusionary effects that government-granted patents and other IPRs may have during pandemics in support of rapid diffusion of new vaccines, diagnostics, medicines and other tools and facilitate collaboration and freedom to operate. The current draft text of Article 11 would not make any change to the status quo.

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Research Paper 194, 15 February 2024

Implementation of TRIPS Flexibilities and Injunctions: A Case Study of India

by Shirin Syed

The proponents of intellectual property (IP) have increasingly utilized injunctions with indiscriminate propensity as a strategic tool for IP enforcement, resulting in adverse socio-economic implications, including the enjoyment of human rights. This trend has eclipsed the flexibilities provided in the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health. Although a substantial volume of the literature focuses on the flexibilities of compulsory license or scope of patentability, little attention has been given to the flexibilities related to IP enforcement. Discussing the implications of IP enforcement on public interest, the paper examines the gaps in the articulation of flexibilities of intellectual property rights (IPRs) enforcement, with special reference to injunctions in India. It examines how far the courts consider the implications on the enjoyment of fundamental rights while granting injunctions on patents. This paper argues that the Indian courts have deviated from the cautious approach provisioned under the TRIPS flexibilities that allows the courts to consider the public interest aspect and human rights implications while granting injunctions in patent litigation. Moreover, it asserts that the courts should exercise prudence in granting injunctive relief in cases involving patent infringement, and take into account the potential impact of such relief on the exercise of human rights. This suggests a need for a careful examination of the potential implications of injunctive remedies in such cases.

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