Innovation

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. 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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Research Paper 191, 25 January 2024

TRIPS Waiver Decision for Equitable Access to Medical Countermeasures in the Pandemic: COVID-19 Diagnostics and Therapeutics

By Nirmalya Syam and Muhammad Zaheer Abbas, PhD

The Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO) allows WTO Members to agree to temporarily waive obligations under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). However, the TRIPS Decision adopted by the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in June 2022, after lengthy and protracted negotiations lasting for 20 months in the middle of a pandemic, allowed only a fragment of the waiver proposal submitted by India and South Africa. Moreover, since the adoption of the Decision there has been an impasse in the WTO about extending the Decision to COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics even though the WTO Members were mandated by the Decision to decide on this matter within six months of the Decision. This research paper analyses the current state of play and concludes that there is a need to immediately and unconditionally extend the Decision to COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics. Moreover, the paper suggests options for how the TRIPS flexibilities can be optimally utilized in a pandemic situation without developing countries being resigned to the vagaries of negotiations on a waiver which is supposed to be an urgent emergency solution. In this regard, the paper also suggests options that could be considered for reforming the process of decision-making on a waiver proposal to ensure that decisions on waivers are taken in a timely and expedited manner without being negotiated for an extensive period of time in the midst of an emergency.

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South Centre Report, 16 January 2024

Identifying Legal Challenges for Farmers’ Innovation

By Saurav Ghimire

On 9 October 2023, an expert workshop on “Identifying Legal Challenges for Farmers’ Innovation” was organised at the Centre for Private and Economic Law, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, in collaboration with the South Centre and Université Catholique de Louvain. The hybrid event gathered experts to discuss the challenges for farmers’ innovation, particularly those emerging from regulatory regimes. The workshop brainstormed policy and regulatory hindrances to farmers’ involvement in plant breeding, namely, in access to breeding materials, access to the market and reward/protection for the innovation.

The expert workshop was organised as a part of a joint research project, “Farmers as Plant Breeders: Legal Mechanisms to Foster Farmers’ Innovation”, led by Prof. Christine Frison (Université Catholique de Louvain), Prof. Kim Van der Borght (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), and  Prof. Carlos Correa (South Centre). The research project is funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).

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Research Paper 188, 7 December 2023

The Intersection Between Intellectual Property, Public Health and Access to Climate-Related Technologies

By Lívia Regina Batista

On the 20th anniversary of the Doha Declaration on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and Public Health adopted by the World Trade Organization, we realize that its impact is beyond issues of public health stricto sensu. The Doha Declaration has inspired discussions at the Council for TRIPS regarding access to climate-related technologies. Climate change is the main and most globalized environmental problem with adverse effects on public health, especially for the vulnerable communities in the Global-South. The main argument of the proponents of the discussion in the TRIPS Council is the need to rebalance public interests (such as public health and environmental/climate issues) with the private/economic interests of the most powerful countries and corporations. This debate addresses both the recognition of intellectual property rights as an important means for the promotion of technological innovation, and the required wider dissemination of technologies – be they medicines or climate-related technologies. This research paper explores the possibilities that the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha Declaration create for international transfer of climate-related technologies. Even though such discussions on climate-related technologies have initially failed in linking climate change and public health, as well as the rhetoric of human rights, the relevance of the topic remains. Besides that, the response to public health issues also must learn from the experience in climate change, such as the case studies evidencing the insufficiency and inefficiency of fast-tracking programs to provide for a wider dissemination of technologies – which have now been widely replicated to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Such comparison can also be an entrance point to discuss the public health implications for the international regime on climate change, highlighting that such issues are deeply intertwined, and need to be addressed jointly as well.

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Research Paper 187, 4 December 2023

The Global Digital Compact: opportunities and challenges for developing countries in a fragmented digital space

By Carlos Correa, Danish, Vitor Ido, Jacquelene Mwangi and Daniel Uribe

The adoption of a Global Digital Compact (GDC) as one of the outcomes of the Summit of the Future opens up the opportunity to address in a systematic manner issues that are of critical importance for the digital global governance. It also poses a challenge to developing countries, as most of them lack the infrastructure and capabilities to fully participate in the digital transformation. Many inequalities, including a deep digital divide, do exist and would need to be addressed by the GDC for it to become a real instrument of change and improvement in the living conditions and the prospects of a better future for most of the world population. This paper examines the current fragmentation in the digital governance and some of the issues raised by the proposals made by the UN Secretary-General for adoption of the GDC.

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Policy Brief 122, 30 November 2023

Data Access and the EU Data Strategy: Implications for the Global South

By Marc Stuhldreier

This study explores the value of data in the digital economy and the challenges surrounding data ownership, access rights, and equitable distribution of the value. It examines the European Data Strategy and highlights its shortcomings as well as its implications for the Global South. This contribution emphasises the need for unlocking the potential of collected data by enhancing accessibility and challenging protectionist measures and discusses the importance of fair competition and innovation. It also discusses the importance of balancing access rights with legitimate privacy concerns, trade secrets, and intellectual property rights. The paper concludes by highlighting the importance for developing countries to introduce tailored regulations that suit their specific needs, empowering them to seize opportunities and navigate the digital economy effectively.

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Research Paper 180, 9 August 2023

Neglected Dimension of the Inventive Step as Applied to Pharmaceutical and Biotechnological Products: The case of Sri Lanka’s patent law

By Ruwan Fernando

Apart from the basic statutory definition in section 65 of the Intellectual Property Act of Sri Lanka, there do not appear to be any detailed statutory guidelines or judicial decisions to provide any framework for the assessment of inventive step in Sri Lanka. The current statutory definition is highly insufficient to evaluate the standard of obviousness in relation to biotechnological and pharmaceutical claims based on a combination or modification of a prior art reference.

The Courts in both developed and developing countries have adopted a variety of tests to evaluate the obviousness standard of a claimed invention based on a combination or modification of a prior art reference. Sri Lanka, as a developing country, should look at the development that has taken place in other jurisdictions and adapt the patent law to local conditions when developing tests or guidelines in a manner that is compatible with the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and its biotechnology/pharmaceutical policy guidelines.

This approach that is appropriate to Sri Lanka is twofold. First, it is most likely to prevent the issuance of patents on trivial or incremental inventions that do not provide any technical advance to the existing prior art and are a mere extension of what is already known in the prior art. Second, it is most likely to protect genuine technical advances to the existing prior art while at the same time enhancing competition and promoting local innovations so that the local researchers will be able to draw on the existing knowledge for the purpose of follow-on innovations.

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Matrix of Key Issues in TRIPS Council, June 2023

MATRIX OF KEY ISSUES IN THE WTO TRIPS COUNCIL

Health, Intellectual Property and Biodiversity Programme, South Centre

The following matrix provides a factual overview and analysis of the standing and non-standing agenda items of the regular session of the WTO TRIPS Council. The matrix also discusses the TRIPS Implementation issues as part of the WTO Doha Development Round of negotiations.

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SC Joint Publication – The Right to Seeds in Africa, February 2023

The Right to Seeds in Africa

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas and the Right to Seeds in Africa

Geneva Academy Briefing No. 22

By Karine Peschard, Christophe Golay and Lulbahri Araya

Pursuant to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), the African Union and African states should ensure that their regional & national laws & policies, as well as international bodies to which they are party, lead to effective protection of peasant rights, including their right to seeds.

The Geneva Academy acknowledges the support of the South Centre for the production of this publication.

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SC Report on Copyright Week in South Africa, 23-27 January 2023

South Centre Supports Debates on Developments in Copyright Law and Access to Knowledge in Africa

By Vitor Ido

A conference “A Right to Research in Africa? A Week of Debates on Copyright and Access to Knowledge” took place on 23-27 January 2023 at the University of Pretoria and the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The gathering of scholars, artists, librarians, researchers and government officials had the objective to discuss the evolution of copyright law and the role of limitations and exceptions (L&Es) to advance research in Africa. The week of debates was co-organized by the South Centre, ReCreate South Africa, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) – American University Washington College of Law, Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), the University of Pretoria – Future Africa, the University of Cape Town – IP Unit, the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) – Strathmore University, Wikimedia Foundation and Masakhane.

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South Centre Repository of Copyright Limitations and Exceptions

 

South Centre Repository of Copyright Limitations and Exceptions

The South Centre is launching a repository of materials on copyright limitations and exceptions (L&Es) for the benefit of the diplomatic community in Geneva and capital-based delegates, with a focus on multilateral negotiations at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on this matter, and to support regional and national laws and policies. The South Centre is committed to promoting a public interest-oriented copyright system which enables access to knowledge and is conducive to research, education, preservation, and other public goals. Please feel free to suggest further materials for this repository to Dr. Vitor Ido, Programme Officer of the South Centre (ido@southcentre.int).

You can access the repository here.

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