Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)

Statement on WHO proposed instrument on pandemics, 9 December 2022

South Centre Statement

WHO proposed instrument on pandemics: the Conceptual Zero Draft needs substantial improvement to address global public health needs

We welcome the discussions in the WHO on a new instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. While we appreciate the preparation and sharing with WHO members of the Conceptual Zero Draft (hereinafter ‘the Draft’), we note that more work is needed to address the insufficiency of the tools at the disposal of the WHO that became evident with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Climate Policy Brief 28, 14 November 2022

Technology Transfer and Climate Change: A developing country perspective

 By Nicolás M. Perrone

The role of technology transfer in climate change negotiations is vital. If technology is to help us mitigate and adapt to climate change, the international community needs to ensure sufficient innovation and technology transfer. One of the main challenges of the technology transfer regime for environmentally sound technologies is that a private and market-led model may not meet global technology transfer needs. This policy brief suggests that governments should explore market, hybrid and non-market approaches to accelerate the transfer of environmentally sound technologies. Developing countries’ governments should also explore cooperative approaches to improve their bargaining power, reduce costs and ensure adaptation and innovation capacity in the developing world.

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Research Paper 166, 6 October 2022

Lessons From India’s Implementation of Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health

By Nanditta Batra

The major bone of contention between the developed and developing countries in the TRIPS negotiations was patents for pharmaceuticals. The US-led developed countries bloc argued in favour of patents for pharmaceuticals amidst opposition from Brazil, India and other countries. Ample evidence, including patented AZT for HIV/AIDS treatment, showed that patents could make life saving drugs prohibitively expensive. Notwithstanding the effect of patents on access to medicines, Article 27 of the TRIPS Agreement ordained patents for inventions “in all fields of technology”. While the genie was out of the bottle in the form of patents for pharmaceuticals, the developing countries were able to extract some procedural and substantive flexibilities like transition period, parallel importation and compulsory licensing to leverage the IP system to further public health. However, there was uncertainty with respect to the interpretation of TRIPS agreement, scope of the flexibilities and Member States’ rights to use them. It is in this background that the historic Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health assumed importance as it reaffirmed the rights of the Member States to take measures to protect public health, reconciled the interpretative tensions in the text of TRIPS Agreement and clarified the scope of some of the flexibilities and attempts to find solutions to the problems faced by countries that do not have sufficient manufacturing facilities. The Declaration which was initially dismissed by some scholars as “non-binding,” “soft law” has been held by WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to constitute a “subsequent agreement” which must be followed in interpreting the provisions of TRIPS Agreement (Australia-Tobacco Plain Packaging Case).

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Research Paper 143, 11 January 2022

Brazilian Competition Law and Access to Health in Brazil: Exploitative Pricing in the Pharmaceutical Sector

By Bruno Braz de Castro

This paper aims to analyze the interfaces between Brazilian Competition Law and the issue of access to medicines, with a special focus on abuse of industrial property rights and related exclusionary and exploitative effects. The paper analyzes the case law of Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) in the pharmaceutical sector and discusses abusive practices such as illegitimately imposing non-existent or invalid intellectual property rights with anticompetitive purposes. It then addresses abusive strategies in the exercise of industrial property rights which are, in essence, valid: i.e., exclusionary practices, aimed at artificially raising barriers to entry; and exploitative practices, directly translated as the exercise of market power to the detriment of the consumer. The latter ultimately result in exploitative excessive prices; contractual, quality or privacy degradation; and restrictions on supply, such as by hoarding/preventing the exploitation of industrial property rights. The paper concludes that the prohibition of exploitative pricing under the current competition law is legally valid and effective, with certain methodological concerns towards reducing the risk of wrongful convictions (for instance, by applying screening tests to determine the markets that are candidates for intervention). In view of such guidelines, the pharmaceutical industry appears to be an important candidate for antitrust attention, given the magnitude of the harm potentially derived from non-intervention against the practice. Remedies in this area, importantly, should focus on identifying and solving the sector’s structural competitive problems. In the case of medicines subject to price regulation by the Drug Market Regulation Chamber (CMED), the technical expertise of the competition authority may be of great value in terms of competition advocacy, a fact that is demonstrated in light of recent discussions on extraordinary price adjustments because of competitive problems in certain markets.

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SouthViews No. 240, 1 September 2022

Competition Law and Intellectual Property: A Study Drawing from The Eli Lilly Case on ‘Sham Litigation’ in Brazil

By Pablo Leurquin

Competition authorities may be the best equipped institutions to penalize certain illicit practices that involve intellectual property rights. This article analyzes the decision by the Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense (Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica – CADE) in the Eli Lilly case, in which the company was convicted for abusive use of the right to petition (sham litigation) with anti-competitive effects. It examines general aspects of technological dependence in the Brazilian pharmaceutical industry, presents the legal premises necessary for the understanding of the decision made by the competition authority, and analyzes the legal grounds for the sanction imposed on Eli Lilly.

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Research Paper 160, 21 July 2022

Movement Forward on ABS for the Convention on Biological Diversity: Bounded Openness Over Natural Information

by Joseph Henry Vogel, Manuel Ruiz Muller, Klaus Angerer, and Christopher May

“Access to genetic resources” and “fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising [from their] utilization” is the third objective of the 1992 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The expression is included in the full title of the 2010 Nagoya Protocol (NP). Neither agreement defined “material” in the phrase “genetic material” which resulted in misinterpretation that the object of access for R&D is tangible. Unfairness ensues: competition among provider Parties leads to the elimination of economic rents, which is desirable for tangibles but undesirable for intangibles. Once interpreted as natural information, the economics of information justifies a Global Multilateral Benefit-Sharing Mechanism (GMBSM) (Article 10 NP) which collects and distributes rents on value added to genetic resources. “Bounded openness over natural information” is the modality proposed for the GMBSM. The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Secretariat of the CBD recognized the argument in the 2021 Note “Digital Sequence Information on Genetic Resources”.

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SouthViews No. 239, 30 June 2022

Farmers, Seeds & the Laws: Importing the Chilling Effect Doctrine

By Saurav Ghimire

As an increasing number of countries are formulating Plant Variety Protection (PVP) laws, a growing number of farmers are affected by plant breeders’ rights. In addition, the seed certification law also affects farmers’ relations with seeds. Discussing the farmers’ interaction with the PVP law and seed certification law in Indonesia, this article establishes that the farmers have internalised the law beyond the scope of the legal text, such that they self-limit breeding, saving, and exchanging of seeds even in legally permissible situations. Based on the chilling effect doctrine, this article argues that the related laws should be relaxed to ensure that they do not over deter farmers from exercising their rights. This article calls for both negative and positive state obligations to address the chilling effect on farmers arising from both state and private actors.

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Policy Brief 112, 28 June 2022

IPR-related Statistics in WTO Trade Policy Reviews

 By Peter Lunenborg

The WTO Secretariat Trade Policy Review (TPR) report is an important tool for a WTO Member which synthesizes objective trade-related information in a single document and enables the monitoring of developments in trade. Relevant statistics are therefore an important element of a TPR report.

Currently the practice of using statistical information on intellectual property rights (IPRs) across TPRs is not uniform. This Policy Brief surveys the use of IPR-related statistics in WTO TPRs with a view to exploring possible harmonization and inclusion of common information elements in future TPRs. Harmonized information would provide a baseline for comparison between countries and across time for a single country with respect to the level of IPR protection and immediate benefits derived from the creation of and trade in IPRs.

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Research Paper 148, 7 March 2022

Marine Genetic Resources Beyond National Jurisdictions: Negotiating Options on Intellectual Property

By Siva Thambisetty

Negotiations on marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) convene after a significant hiatus during which intellectual property monopolies have come under intense normative and pragmatic scrutiny. This paper historicises developments in legal arrangements over intellectual property and biodiversity to propose several negotiating options on the control, use and circulation of marine genetic resources of areas beyond national jurisdiction. The text-based options presented here operationalise an equitable approach taking into account the interests of low power groups, cross-cutting issues and the often ignored question of the ownership and use of marine genetic resources through intellectual property rights.

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SC Report on Direct Monetary Costs of IP, 2 March 2022

Direct Monetary Costs of Intellectual Property for Developing Countries

 A changing balance for TRIPS?

It is startling that almost no discussion exists on the direct monetary costs for countries of the IP international regulatory framework. Indeed, on top of the inherent costs on ´access´ or ´learning´ abilities, there are some important tangible, measurable, direct monetary costs to countries. These costs are the financial payments that occur simply for the use of intellectual property. These payments are relevant in any discussion on the role of IP in the context of development.

An overview of some findings is presented in this report, with the aim of promoting an assessment and discussion at the WTO and other fora whenever there is a consideration of the impacts of the IP international regulatory framework, notably the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) in individual countries.

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SouthViews No. 233, 31 January 2022

Mainstreaming Public Health Considerations in Adjudication of Intellectual Property Disputes: Implications of Specialized IP Courts and General Courts

By Justice (Retd.) Prabha Sridevan

How can the public interest dimension be considered in the adjudication of intellectual property (IP) disputes, in particular those concerning patents on health technologies such as medicines and vaccines? This is the main question addressed by Justice (Retd.) Prabha Sridevan, former Judge of the Madras High Court and former Chairperson of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) of India, as an expert facilitator, at the Asian Regional Course for Judges on Intellectual Property and Public Health organized by the South Centre in August 2021. Justice Sridevan addressed the pros and cons of adjudication through specialized courts vis-à-vis general courts.

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PIJIP Event, 4 February 2022

The Impact of a TRIPS COVID Waiver on Trade and Investment Agreements

Program on Intellectual Justice and Intellectual Property, American University Washington College of Law event

February 4, 2022, 10am EST/3pm GMT

Co-Sponsored by the American Branch of the International Law Association and the South Centre

The event will feature a presentation of a South Centre Research Paper by Federica Paddeu and Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan, followed by a round table discussion with international law experts. The Seminar is scheduled for 90 minutes in a public and recorded session, followed by a 30 minute off-camera virtual reception held under Chatham House Rule.

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