Compulsory Licenses

Policy Brief 91, April 2021

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.

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Statement, March 2021

South Centre Statement on World TB Day

Countries need to step up the response to tuberculosis and take all possible measures to expand access to treatment.

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COVID-19 Compulsory Licenses Table, March 2021

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.

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COVID-19 Compulsory Licenses Table, February 2021

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.

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Webinar with MSF on 7 December 2020

Access to Covid-19 Vaccines, Medicines and Diagnostics: Voluntary and Compulsory Licenses, TRIPS Waiver

The South Centre and Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign organized a Webinar on 7 December at 2.00p.m. CET on patent licensing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Documento de Investigación 107, Diciembre 2020

Guía para la concesión de licencias obligatorias y uso gubernamental de patentes farmacéuticas  

Por Carlos M. Correa

Al igual que otros derechos, los derechos de patente no son absolutos. Hay situaciones en las que su ejercicio puede limitarse para proteger los intereses públicos. Esas situaciones pueden surgir, por ejemplo, cuando debe garantizarse el acceso a los productos farmacéuticos necesarios. Las licencias obligatorias y el uso gubernamental con fines no comerciales son instrumentos, previstos en la mayoría de las leyes de todo el mundo, que pueden utilizarse específicamente para atender las necesidades de salud pública. El presente documento tiene por objeto proporcionar orientación jurídica para el uso eficaz de esos instrumentos, de conformidad con el derecho internacional.

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Research Paper 125, December 2020

Designing Pro-Health Competition Policies in Developing Countries  

By Vitor Henrique Pinto Ido

Competition law and policy has become an important tool for countries to promote access to pharmaceuticals. How can countries design and enforce competition policies that are suitable to the particularities of developing countries? What are the main anti-competitive tactics in the pharmaceutical sector, and how should they be dealt with? This paper deals with these issues, taking into account the socio-economic relevance of access to health products. It finds that developing countries should apply their competition laws in the pharmaceutical sector more actively, and that there is ample policy space under international law to do so. It provides an overview of the way in which competition policies have been applied in some industrialized and developing countries and explores how such policies can be designed and implemented in the context of developing countries.

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Research Paper 119, October 2020

TRIPS Flexibilities on Patent Enforcement: Lessons from Some Developed Countries Relating to Pharmaceutical Patent Protection

By Joshua D. Sarnoff

Authority for national judiciaries to issue permanent and preliminary injunctions is required by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), Articles 44 and 50.  But the TRIPS Agreement does not require the issuance of injunctions in any particular circumstances, and does not harmonize the laws on which national jurisdictions derive their injunctive relief authorities.  Thus, countries remain free to refuse prohibitory injunctive relief for adjudicated or likely patent infringement, particularly if “reasonable compensation” is offered in the form of an “ongoing royalty” or an “interim royalty” payment, which acts similarly to a compulsory license.  This paper explains the existing legal standards for permanent and preliminary injunctions in the United States and Canada and discusses trends regarding the issuance or denial of injunctions for pharmaceutical patents in those jurisdictions (with occasional reference to other common-law jurisdictions). Although judges in these jurisdictions more routinely deny preliminary prohibitory injunctions, legislation linking generic pharmaceutical regulatory approvals to the patent system and imposing stays of such approvals normally avoid the need for such preliminary injunctions. Consistent with the TRIPS Agreement, developing country judges may make different choices, based on the ability to provide reasonable compensation for harms or based on a different weighing of the importance of assuring affordable access to medicines relative to providing innovation incentives.

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Statement, October 2020

PROPOSAL BY INDIA AND SOUTH AFRICA TO WAIVE CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE WTO TRIPS AGREEMENT TO SUPPORT THE GLOBAL COVID-19 PANDEMIC RESPONSE

The prolongation of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic threatens developing countries disproportionately, deepening the catastrophic social and economic crisis and reversing the gains made to date to eradicate extreme poverty and meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this situation, ensuring timely access to essential commodities by overcoming acute shortages faced by countries due to high demand and disruptions in the supply chain is critical. There is also an urgent need to speed up development of new vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, at scale, and make these widely available.

As reaffirmed by many delegations in the special session of the WHO Executive Board, transfer of technology and know-how is fundamental for scaling up manufacturing of medical products and equipment. In this regard, India and South Africa have made a joint proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to temporarily waive certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to support the global Covid-19 pandemic response.

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SouthViews No. 207, 28 September 2020

Is the right to exclusivity a Hamlet question?

By Justice Prabha Sridevan

Today the judicial authority may be faced with balancing patent rights and patients’ rights or right to life. It shall use all the tools at its command and innovate if necessary, but shall rule in favour of life.

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Policy Brief 84, September 2020

A New Trend in Trade Agreements: Ensuring Access to Cancer Drugs

By Maria Fabiana Jorge

A World Health Organization (WHO) report on cancer indicates that the cancer burden will increase at least by 60% over the next two decades, straining health systems and communities.  Companies develop cancer drugs in part because payers are less resistant to paying high drug prices for these drugs.  As Barbara Rimer, Dean of the University of North Carolina and Chair of the U.S. President’s Cancer Panel stated, “[m]ost cancer drugs launched in the United States between 2009 and 2014 were priced at more than $100,000 per patient for one year of treatment.”  Many of the new cancer drugs are biologics. Such prices are clearly out of reach for most patients who will need them increasingly more to stay alive.  While competition is critical to ensure lower drug prices, we have seen a number of strategies, including through trade agreements, to prevent competition and extend monopolies over these drugs and their very high drug prices.  It is no accident that the exclusivity granted to biologic drugs has been one of the most conflictive provisions in recent trade agreements such as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).  Nevertheless a new trend in trade agreements started in 2007 when U.S. Members of Congress pushed back against the interests of powerful economic groups seeking longer monopolies for drugs.  These Members of the U.S. Congress prevailed then in restoring some balance in the trade agreements with Peru, Colombia and Panama and further consolidated this new trend in 2019 in the USMCA.  Moreover, following the U.S. withdrawal from the original Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the negotiators of the remaining 11 countries also pushed back to ensure a better balance between innovation and access in the CPTPP.  People around the world need to be aware of these precedents and ensure that they also work for access to medicines for their own citizens.

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Documents de Formation 1, Août 2020

Propriété Intellectuelle et Accès aux Médicaments : Une Introduction aux Grandes Problématiques – Quelques Termes et Concepts de Base

Par Germán Velásquez

La propriété intellectuelle et les brevets en particulier sont devenus l’une des questions les plus débattues sur l’accès aux médicaments, depuis la création de l’Organisation mondiale du commerce (OMC) et l’entrée en vigueur de l’Accord sur les aspects des droits de propriété intellectuelle qui touchent au commerce (ADPIC). Les brevets ne sont nullement les seuls obstacles à l’accès aux médicaments qui sauvent des vies, mais ils peuvent jouer un rôle important, voire déterminant. Pendant la durée de protection d’un brevet, la capacité du titulaire du brevet à déterminer les prix, en l’absence de concurrence, peut faire en sorte que le médicament soit inabordable pour la majorité des personnes vivant dans les pays en développement. Ce premier numéro du “South Centre Training Papers” vise, dans sa première partie, à fournir une introduction aux questions clés dans le domaine de l’accès aux médicaments et de la propriété intellectuelle. La deuxième partie décrit et définit certains termes et concepts de base de ce domaine relativement nouveau des politiques pharmaceutiques, qui sont les aspects liés au commerce des droits de propriété intellectuelle qui régissent la recherche, le développement et la fourniture de médicaments et les technologies de la santé en général.

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