Spain’s submission at the EU’s Porto Social Summit
Spain’s submission at the European Union’s Porto Social Summit proposing to adapt global rules on intellectual property, in particular the flexibilities in the Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), to fight global pandemics is welcome.
Expanding the production of COVID-19 vaccines to reach developing countries
Lift the barriers to fight the pandemic in the Global South
By Carlos M. Correa
The unfolding of COVID-19 has shown that the international system has been unable to ensure equal access to the vaccines and other products necessary to fight the pandemic. While the need for a strong response remains obvious, proposals for scaling up the production of COVID-19 vaccines across the globe are still blocked in the World Trade Organization.
La covid-19 et l’impératif d’une organisation internationale
À partir de début 2020, le monde a dû faire face à un considérable défi sanitaire, économique et social avec l’épidémie de la COVID-19. La crise s’est poursuivie et aggravée dans la plupart des pays du monde. Beaucoup ont voulu explorer des réponses sans prendre réellement en compte les avis des principaux organismes internationaux dans le domaine de la santé, au premier rang desquels l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS). L’OMS fait l’objet de critiques. Il est néanmoins fondamental qu’une agence multilatérale comme elle puisse exercer une véritable autorité et jouer un rôle de chef de le indépendant et en défense de l’ensemble des pays de la planète. Alors, comment faire pour qu’elle puisse jouer ce rôle ? Ce livre contribue à apporter des réponses à cette question, en s’appuyant sur les réflexions développées par le Centre Sud, un organisme intergouvernemental qui défend les perspectives des pays du Sud. Il aborde notamment l’avancement des réflexions et débats concernant l’accès aux médicaments et vaccins pour répondre à cette pandémie ou à d’éventuelles crises ultérieures.
American University Washington College of Law Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property
The American Network on the Right to Research in International Copyright is calling for papers relevant to the development of global norms on copyright policy in its application to research. Text and data mining research, for example, is contributing insights to respond to urgent social problems, from combatting COVID to monitoring hate speech and disinformation on social media. Other technologies make it possible to access the materials of libraries, archives and museums from afar – an especially necessary activity during the COVID pandemic. But these and other research activities may require reproduction and sharing of copyright protected works, including across borders. There is a lack of global norms for such activities, which may contribute to uncertainty and apprehension, inhibiting research projects and collaborations. The problem of access to copyrighted works through libraries and educational institutions is especially serious in the South.
Compulsory license in Germany: Analysis of a landmark judicial decision
By Christoph Spennemann and Clara Warriner
This policy brief analyzes how the German Federal Court of Justice addressed compulsory licensing under German patent law, where the request for a compulsory license was used in preliminary proceedings as a defense against alleged patent infringement.
Competition Regulation in Healthcare in South Africa
By Hardin Ratshisusu
South Africa’s nascent competition regulatory regime is coming of age and has potential to address historical market concentration challenges previously enabled by the apartheid regime, prior to its dismantling in the 1990s. Many sectors of the economy are highly concentrated, including the private healthcare sector, with market outcomes that breed market failures, lack of competitiveness and high cost of care. Looking through competition in the healthcare sector it becomes evident that the market structure challenges do not only require domestic interventions, but also a global response to address some policy and regulatory gaps.
Need for Extension of the LDC Transition Period Under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement Until Graduation and Beyond
By Nirmalya Syam
Least developed country (LDC) Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have submitted a duly motivated request for the extension of the transition period under Article 66.1 of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which exempts LDCs from implementing the obligations for protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights under the Agreement, in view of their vulnerabilities, special needs, economic, administrative and financial constraints, and the need for a sound and viable technological base. This request, submitted prior to the expiry of the current transition period on 1 July 2021, seeks a further extension for as long as those Members remain LDCs, and also for an additional period of 12 years after their graduation. This request is legitimate in view of the varied challenges that LDCs face, which have been aggravated through the reversal of development gains due to the public health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These vulnerabilities will also continue to afflict the LDCs even after graduation, as recognized in several reports by different United Nations (UN) agencies as well as resolutions of the UN General Assembly. Therefore, WTO Members must display political will and translate global solidarity pledges into action and unconditionally support the request for extension of the transition period for LDCs under the TRIPS Agreement.
Scope of Compulsory License and Government Use of Patented Medicines in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic
To meet public health needs, such as in the current COVID-19 emergency, governments can use compulsory licenses and government use as a tool for procurement and import of patented medicines.
These mechanisms are provided for in most laws worldwide. The WTO TRIPS Agreement, as reaffirmed by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, recognises the right of WTO members to grant compulsory licenses and their freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licenses may be granted (read our Call for Action on Intellectual Property and Trade Measures to Address the Covid-19 Crisis here).
The South Centre offers a guide for the issuance of compulsory licenses and government use, see here, aquí en español.
The table below provides information of instances of their use.
The TRIPS waiver proposal: an urgent measure to expand access to the COVID-19 vaccines
by Henrique Zeferino de Menezes
Despite multilateral commitments and political statements of solidarity and cooperation to guarantee the availability and access to COVID-19 vaccines (and other relevant technologies for control and treatment), the scenario after the beginning of vaccination is marked by the deepening of vaccine nationalism, the concentration of inputs and vaccines production, and the uneven distribution of options of vaccine doses already approved for use. This pattern of production restrictions and unequal access will lead to an increase in international inequalities, leaving a large part of the world to have access to vaccines not until 2024. While advanced purchase agreements (APAs) among pharmaceutical companies and some developed countries are multiplying, the proposed mechanisms for voluntary licensing of technologies and the COVAX Facility do not achieve their goal of democratizing access to vaccines. In this sense, the current TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waiver proposal seems to be the political and institutional response with the greatest potential to guarantee the scaling of the production of pharmaceutical inputs, allowing the adoption of a comprehensive strategy to ensure timely, sufficient, and affordable access to all technologies developed to fight COVID-19.
Access to Medical Equipment in a Pandemic Situation: Importance of Localized Supply Chains and 3D Printing
By Muhammad Zaheer Abbas, PhD
The response to the COVID-19 crisis highlighted the weaknesses of the free trade system and failures of the traditional supply chains. Public health preparedness for future pandemics demands nation-states to increase their local production of medical supplies in order to reduce their dependence on third countries. Globally connected local production, enabled by digital fabrication tools, is arguably the best policy response to collaboratively address supply-chain vulnerabilities. 3D printing technology, which is the most prominent manifestation of digital fabrication ecosystems, can play a key role in enhancing the local production capacity in a time- and cost-efficient manner. This paper calls for an increased focus on local production and proposes a more systematic use of 3D printing capabilities to address shortages of critical medical equipment in a health emergency.