Intellectual Property

A Right to Research in Africa?, 23-27 January 2023

A Right to Research in Africa?

A Week of Events on Copyright and Access to Knowledge in South Africa

The Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property of the American University Washington College of Law (PIJIP) is co-organizing a week of debates on copyright and access to knowledge in South Africa the week of January 23rd, with a coalition of three university groups and four civil society organizations.

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SC-AU Workshop on WIPO Issues, 13-14 December 2022

South Centre – African Union Workshop on WIPO Issues

13-14 December 2022 at the Montreux Room – Centre de Conférences de Varembé (CCV), Geneva

In light of the Recommendations of the AU/AG workshop of December 2019 and the latest developments at SCCR/42, the African Group Coordinator, the South Centre and the African Union Permanent Mission in Geneva proposed a preparatory coordination workshop.

The workshop is co-organized by the South Centre, the African Union Permanent Representation in Geneva and the Permanent Mission of Algeria in Geneva (Coordinator of the African Group for WIPO issues).

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Document de Recherche 171, 31 janvier 2023

Directives pour l’examen des demandes de brevet relatives aux produits pharmaceutiques

Par Carlos M Correa

Ce document fait suite à un document antérieur, Directives applicables à l’examen des brevets pharmaceutiques: examen des brevets pharmaceutiques du point de vue de la santé publique, publié en 2007 comme document de travail par le Centre international pour le commerce et le développement durable (CICDD), la Conférence des Nations Unies sur le commerce et le développement (CNUCED) et l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS).

Le présent document tient compte des évolutions survenues depuis la publication du document de travail CICDD-CNUCED-OMS en 2007. Il comprend de nouveaux exemples de demandes et/ou de délivrance de brevets, ainsi qu’une analyse et des références aux initiatives d’un certain nombre de pays qui ont adopté des lois et/ou des politiques visant à prendre en compte les considérations de santé publique dans l’examen des demandes de brevets.

Avec ce document, l’objectif est de fournir des orientations pour l’élaboration ou la révision de directives sur les processus d’examen des brevets dans les pays en développement, en réponse aux préoccupations concernant l’augmentation du nombre de brevets dans le secteur pharmaceutique. À cette fin, un certain nombre de recommandations sont formulées en ce qui concerne l’examen des demandes de brevetabilité relatives aux produits et procédés pharmaceutiques.

Ce document est une traduction de la version originale des “Directives pour l’examen des demandes de brevet relatives aux produits pharmaceutiques” publiées en anglais par le Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement (PNUD). Le South Centre remercie le PNUD pour l’aimable autorisation de publier cette version non officielle. Traduit pour le South Centre par M. Natanael França.

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Documento de Investigación 171, 29 de Noviembre de 2022

Pautas para el Examen de Solicitudes de Patentes Relacionadas con Productos Farmacéuticos

Por Carlos M Correa

Este documento representa un seguimiento de un documento anterior, Pautas para el examen de patentes farmacéuticas – Una perspectiva desde la Salud Pública, que se publicó en 2007 como documento de trabajo por el Centro Internacional de Comercio y Desarrollo Sostenible (ICTSD), Estados Unidos, Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre Comercio y Desarrollo (UNCTAD) y la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS).

El presente documento toma en cuenta los desarrollos desde la publicación del documento de trabajo ICTSD-UNCTAD-OMS en 2007. Incluye nuevos ejemplos de solicitudes y/o subvenciones de patentes, además analiza y hace referencia a las iniciativas de varios países que han adoptado leyes y/o políticas dirigidas a considerar temas de salud pública en el examen de solicitudes de patentes.

El objetivo de este documento es proporcionar orientación para el desarrollo o la revisión de directrices sobre los procesos de examen de patentes en países en desarrollo en respuesta a las preocupaciones sobre el aumento del número de patentes en el sector farmacéutico. A tal fin, se formulan varias recomendaciones con respecto al examen de la patentabilidad de las solicitudes relativas a productos y procesos farmacéuticos.

Este documento es una traducción de la versión original de las “Directrices para el examen de solicitudes de patentes relacionadas con productos farmacéuticos” publicadas en inglés por la Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD). El South Centre agradece al PNUD por la amable autorización para publicar esta versión no oficial. Traducido para el South Centre por el Sr. Natanael França.

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Research Paper 170, 17 November 2022

Left on Our Own: COVID-19, TRIPS-Plus Free Trade Agreements, and the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health  

By Melissa Omino and Joanna Kahumbu

The cusp of the twentieth anniversary of the WTO Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health (hereafter “the Declaration”) was marked by a global pandemic. The Declaration and its iteration in the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (hereafter “TRIPS”) Article 31 bis, should have helped to contain the devastation in least developed and developing countries. The reality is that the pandemic is still ongoing, and the Global South led by South Africa and India are seeking a waiver of provisions to the TRIPS Agreement to ensure that COVID-19 therapeutics, diagnostics, and vaccines reach their citizens in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus (“the TRIPS waiver”). These citizens are especially vulnerable because of their inability to access vaccines due to their prices and supply shortages caused by the refusal to share manufacturing technology. The Doha Declaration aimed at reaffirming the interpretation and implementation of the TRIPS Agreement to support WTO members’ right to protect public health and promote access to medicines. However, the operationalization of the Declaration via Article 31bis of TRIPS has been cumbersome and procedurally difficult to navigate. This paper argues that the current iteration of the Doha Declaration within TRIPS fails to meet the objectives of the Declaration as demonstrated by the need for a further waiver of the TRIPS agreement. It also attempts to “reimagine” Article 31 bis in light of the TRIPS waiver from the position of the Global South to make it more equitable and practicable and maintain the spirit of the Declaration.

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SouthViews No. 243, 15 November 2022

International Clean Technology Diffusion: Pathways and Prospects

By Wenting Cheng

International clean technology diffusion is essential to mitigate and adapt to climate change, while fast and optimal diffusion can be prevented by the paywall of patents. This article examines three pathways to foster international clean technology diffusion: through restriction of intellectual property, including imposing external restraints in environmental law; striking an internal balance in maximizing TRIPS flexibilities; and keeping the status quo. It finds that the first two treaty-based pathways may not work, and an operable pathway to promote clean technology diffusion is to maximize and consolidate TRIPS flexibilities in national laws. This option challenges the popular proposal of a “Doha-like” declaration on TRIPS and climate change due to the paralysed multilateral trade mechanism, asymmetrical negotiation power of developing countries, prolonged negotiation process, and categorization problem in treaty negotiations.

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Research Paper 169, 8 November 2022

The WTO TRIPS Decision on COVID-19 Vaccines: What is Needed to Implement it?

By Carlos M. Correa and Nirmalya Syam

The 12th WTO Ministerial Conference adopted a Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement on 17 June 2022. This partially concluded almost two years of protracted discussions in response to a proposal by India and South Africa for a waiver from certain obligations under the TRIPS Agreement for health products and technologies for the prevention, treatment and containment of COVID-19. The adopted Decision only waives the obligation under article 31 (f) of the TRIPS Agreement. Developing country WTO members are now allowed to export any proportion of vaccines, including ingredients and processes, necessary for the COVID-19 pandemic that are manufactured under a compulsory license or government use authorization to other developing countries. It also contains some clarifications of relevant TRIPS provisions, while introducing a number of conditionalities that are not present in the TRIPS Agreement. This paper examines the object and scope of the Decision, the requirements established for its use, and the required actions to be taken by WTO members to implement it.

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Research Paper 168, 28 October 2022

TRIPS Flexibilities and Access to Medicines: An Evaluation of Barriers to Employing Compulsory Licenses for Patented Pharmaceuticals at the WTO

By Anna S.Y. Wong, Clarke B. Cole, Jillian C. Kohler

Under Articles 31 and 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement, WTO members may validly sanction the use of a patented invention without the patent owner’s authorization by issuing a compulsory license (CL). In the pharmaceuticals space, governments have historically employed compulsory licenses to compel originator manufacturers to license their patents to generic manufacturers before patent expiry, increasing the supply and reducing the price of patented pharmaceuticals domestically.

This paper evaluates the three primary barriers to employing compulsory licenses for pharmaceuticals underscored by members during TRIPS waiver discussions at the WTO: (1) a lack of enabling domestic legislation, (2) a lack of domestic manufacturing capacity coupled with an unworkable Article 31bis importation system, and (3) consistent political pressure from other members to refrain from issuing compulsory licenses. A survey of members’ domestic compulsory license legislation finds that virtually all members have enacted enabling legislation under Article 31 for the issuance of compulsory licenses to supply their local markets. However, implementation of Article 31bis is limited by a lack of enabling compulsory license export legislation, streamlined administrative processes, or both across all members, preventing members lacking domestic manufacturing capacity from importing pharmaceuticals. An analysis of USTR Special 301 Reports from 1994-2021 further reveals that countries have consistently been placed on the Special 301 Report Priority Watch List for issuing pharmaceutical compulsory licenses, with instances as recent as 2020. As such, general reluctance by members to issue compulsory licenses due to overt political pressure through the Special 301 Report is likely warranted. These results highlight a range of barriers preventing the full use of compulsory licenses for pharmaceuticals under the current Article 31 and 31bis framework, with the effects disproportionately borne by member states lacking domestic manufacturing capacity.

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Book by the South Centre, 2022

Harnessing the Multilateral Patent and Plant Variety Protection Regimes to Advance Food Security:

Implications of the EU-ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreement

Description:

This thesis analyzes the provisions of contemporary intellectual property (IP) and trade agreements to explore whether these provisions advance, or compromise, food security in West Africa. The agreements have been examined for how their provisions integrate IP and food security norms and policies, and the extent to which the IP frameworks are adaptable to the regional conditions that determine food security in the West African context. Critical analysis is made of a regional agreement signed between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU), the 2014 EU-ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), to assess what implications the agreement may have for food security in West Africa. Interdisciplinary research is carried out to identify the characteristics needed to advance food security in the region of West Africa. Also, philosophical and doctrinal analysis of IP laws and legal theories is conducted to identify which legal principles are best suited for advancing food security in the region. Based on the findings, the thesis draws up a model framework for IP protection that is more suitable for enhancing food security in West Africa.

Author: Uchenna Felicia Ugwu is a lawyer and academic researcher with over ten years’ experience extensively investigating the relationship between Intellectual Property (IP) norms and socio-economic development in developing countries. She recently received a PhD in International IP Law and Development from the University of Ottawa.

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