Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)

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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SC Statement to the WHO INB9, March 2024

South Centre Statement at the 9th session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body to draft and negotiate a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

March 2024

The South Centre underscores the imperative for an international binding pandemic treaty to prevent the recurrence of past failures like those witnessed during the COVID-19 crisis.

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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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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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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 Intervention – UNGA Pandemic Multi-stakeholder Hearing, 9 May 2023

Summary of the intervention by Carlos Correa, Executive Director of the South Centre, at the UN General Assembly – Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response Multi-Stakeholder Hearing, New York, May 9th, 2023

The response to COVID-19 revealed serious shortcomings in the multilateral system. Despite solemn declarations, it was unable to ensure equity in addressing its health, economic and social impacts. See a summary of the South Centre’s intervention at the UN General Assembly – Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response Multi-Stakeholder Hearing below.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 31, 25 March 2023

Taxation of Computer Software: Need for Clear Guidance in the UN Model Tax Convention

By Abdul Muheet Chowdhary and Sebastien Babou Diasso

Developing countries pay enormous sums of money for the right to use intellectual property such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc. Such payments are known as ‘royalties’. The scale is enormous, and just 27 South Centre Member States paid $45 billion in 2020 as royalties. Some proportion of these payments are for the right to use computer software. Developing countries can gain significant revenues if the United Nations can provide clear international tax guidelines that payments for the right to use computer software should be taxable as royalties. This Policy Brief provides the world’s first country-level revenue estimates for 34 of the South Centre’s Member States and finds that they could collect potentially $1 billion in tax revenues in 2020 had they been able to tax payments for the use of computer software as royalties.

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South Centre Submission to USITC, 17 March 2023

Submission by the South Centre to the USITC hearing on Covid-19 diagnostics and therapeutics

India, South Africa and co-sponsors made a proposal for a waiver to certain provisions of the provisions of the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in March 2020. In June 2022, the WTO Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement provided a partial waiver to obligations in Article 31, namely an exception to the 31.f export restrictions, in relation to patents for Covid-19 vaccines. No decision has yet been made with respect to diagnostics and therapeutics for Covid-19.

In this context, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) requested the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) to prepare a report on Covid-19 diagnostics and therapeutics.

Read below the submission by the South Centre to the USITC investigation: COVID-19 Diagnostics and Therapeutics: Supply, Demand, and TRIPS Agreement Flexibilities (Inv. No. 332-596).

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SC Opening Statement to WHO INB4, 27 February 2023

Opening Statement of the South Centre to the WHO INB4

February 27, 2023

The South Centre, the international organization and think tank of 55 developing countries, appreciates the opportunity to provide a statement.

We applaud the effort done so far, yet consider that the current Zero Draft is not ambitious enough.

The Zero Draft text should be read against the purported objectives of the international instrument…

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