Intellectual Property

Research Paper 146, 16 February 2022

A Review of WTO Disputes on TRIPS: Implications for Use of Flexibilities for Public Health   

By Nirmalya Syam

The use of TRIPS flexibilities by WTO members involves interpretation of the obligations under TRIPS which can be challenged under the WTO dispute settlement system. Mutually agreed solutions, panel or Appellate Body decisions adopted in such disputes can thus impact the scope of TRIPS flexibilities to address, among others, public health objectives. This paper explores how the WTO dispute settlement system applies to disputes under TRIPS, and reviews the outcomes of the disputes relating to the implementation of TRIPS obligations in the context of pharmaceutical products. The paper points to both systemic and substantive concerns arising from the application of the dispute settlement system to disputes under TRIPS. It finds that the dispute settlement system is not aligned to the unique nature of the TRIPS Agreement in the WTO as an agreement that creates positive obligations, and consequently how jurisprudence arising under disputes concerning other covered agreements having negative obligations, have led panels and Appellate Bodies to adopt narrow interpretations of the scope of TRIPS flexibilities in some of the few disputes arising under the TRIPS Agreement. Moreover, mutually agreed settlements adopted in the context of some of the disputes arising under TRIPS have also led to the adoption of TRIPS plus standards, limiting the scope of TRIPS flexibilities. However, in a recent decision, the WTO panel has also relied on the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health as a subsequent agreement to guide the interpretation of its provisions. In this context, the paper advances some suggestions to address the systemic and substantive issues arising from the application of the dispute settlement system to the TRIPS Agreement.

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Research Paper 145, 9 February 2022

The Right to Health in Pharmaceutical Patent Disputes

by Emmanuel Kolawole Oke

This paper examines how the courts in three developing countries (Kenya, South Africa, and India) have addressed the tension between patent rights on pharmaceutical products and the right to health. The paper begins by examining the nature of the relationship between patent rights and the right to health. It thereafter explores the justiciability of the right to health in Kenya, South Africa, and India. Furthermore, the paper provides an analysis of how the courts in these three developing countries have adjudicated some of the pharmaceutical patent cases involving tensions between the right to health and patent rights. The paper contends that by incorporating the right to health into the adjudication of patent disputes, courts in developing countries can play a crucial role in improving access to medicines at affordable prices.

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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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Palabras de Germán Velásquez al recibir « LA ORDEN DEL CONGRESO DE COLOMBIA », 26 de Enero del 2022

Palabras de Germán Velásquez al recibir « LA ORDEN DEL CONGRESO DE COLOMBIA » otorgada por el Senado de la República

Cartagena de Indias, 26 de Enero del 2022

“EL TEMA CENTRAL DE MI LUCHA EN LOS ULTIMOS 15 AÑOS ES QUE UN MEDICAMENTO QUE PUEDE SALVAR UNA VIDA NO PUEDE SER EL OBJETO DE UN MONOPOLIO PROTEGIDO POR UNA PATENTE… ES POR ESO QUE YO PIENSO Y CREO QUE LAS VACUNAS Y TRATAMIENTOS PARA LA COVID 19 DEBEN SER CONSIDERADOS COMO UN BIEN PUBLICO COMUN.”

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Research Paper 144, 27 January 2022

A TRIPS-COVID Waiver and Overlapping Commitments to Protect Intellectual Property Rights Under International IP and Investment Agreements

by Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan and Federica Paddeu

This paper considers legal implications that are likely to emerge from the implementation of a TRIPS Waiver decision. Assuming that a Waiver is adopted in the form presented in the May 2021 proposal by South Africa and India et al, we review the interaction between the Waiver and other commitments to protect IP rights under international IP and investment treaties. Our principal research question is to analyze whether domestic measures implementing the Waiver are compatible with the implementing State’s other obligations to protect IP rights established under multilateral IP treaties, IP and Investment Chapters of FTAs as well as BITs. In light of typical examples for such overlapping commitments, we first focus on (1) defences directly affecting compatibility with these treaty commitments (here referred to as ‘internal’ defences). In a second part, we review (2) potential defences under general international law that may serve to justify (in other words, to preclude the wrongfulness of) such measures. We conclude that often internal and/or general defences will operate to support the implementation of the Waiver despite overlapping commitments in international IP and investment law. This conclusion is reinforced by a purpose-oriented understanding of the TRIPS Waiver as authorizing measures necessary to achieve the goal of “unimpeded, timely and secure access” for all to covered medical technologies “for the prevention, treatment or containment of COVID-19”.

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Research Paper 143, 11 de janeiro de 2022

Direito Brasileiro da Concorrência e Acesso à Saúde no Brasil: Preços Exploratórios no Setor de Medicamentos

Por Bruno Braz de Castro

O presente trabalho tem por objeto analisar interfaces entre o Direito da Concorrência brasileiro e o tema do acesso a medicamentos, com especial atenção aos abusos de direitos de propriedade industrial em seus efeitos exclusionários e exploratórios. O trabalho analisa a jurisprudência do Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica (CADE) no setor de medicamentos e discute os abusos visando à imposição ilegítima de direitos de propriedade intelectual inexistentes ou inválidos com finalidade anticompetitiva. Em seguida, aborda os abusos no exercício de direitos de propriedade industrial que sejam, por si, válidos: práticas exclusionárias, voltadas à elevação artificial de barreiras à entrada, e práticas exploratórias, traduzidas diretamente no exercício de poder de mercado em detrimento ao consumidor. Estas últimas são manifestadas na forma de preços excessivos exploratórios, degradações contratuais, de qualidade ou de privacidade, bem como restrições na oferta como o açambarcamento/impedimento de exploração de direitos de propriedade industrial. O artigo conclui pela validade e eficácia jurídica da proibição a preços exploratórios pela Lei de Defesa da Concorrência vigente, com certas preocupações metodológicas a fim de minorar o risco de condenações errôneas (como a construção de testes “screening” de mercados-candidatos a intervenção). Em atenção a tais diretrizes, o setor de medicamentos comparece como candidato importante à atenção antitruste, haja vista a magnitude dos prejuízos potencialmente derivados da não-intervenção sobre a prática. Remédios nessa seara, de modo importante, devem focar na identificação e solução dos problemas competitivos estruturais do setor. Em caso de medicamentos sujeitos à regulação de preços pela Câmara de Regulação do Mercado de Medicamentos (CMED), a expertise técnica da autoridade concorrencial poderá ser de grande valia em sede de advocacia da concorrência, o que é demonstrado à luz das discussões recentes acerca do reajuste extraordinário de preços em virtude de problemas concorrenciais de determinado mercado.

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Book by the South Centre, 2022

Vaccines, Medicines and COVID-19

How Can WHO Be Given a Stronger Voice?

Description:

The considerable health, economic and social challenge that the world faced in early 2020 with COVID-19 continued and worsened in many parts of the world in the second half of 2020 and into 2021.

How can an agency like WHO be given a stronger voice to exercise authority and leadership?

This book is a collection of research papers produced by the author between 2020 and early 2021 that helps answer this question. The topics address the state of thinking and debate – particularly with regard to medicines and vaccines – that would enable a response to this pandemic or subsequent crises that may emerge.

This book presents the South Centre’s reflections and studies to provide policymakers, researchers and other stakeholders with information and analysis on issues related to public health and access to medicines and vaccines in the context of COVID-19.

Author: Germán Velásquez, Special Adviser for Policy and Health of the South Centre

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Research Paper 142, 4 January 2022

Competition Law and Access to Medicines: Lessons from Brazilian Regulation and Practice  

by Matheus Z. Falcão, Mariana Gondo and Ana Carolina Navarrete

Competition law may play an important role in drug pricing control by containing high prices derived from economic violations. Since the use of competition tools is not limited by the TRIPS Agreement or other international binding disciplines, there is ample policy room to explore how countries, especially in the Global South, can benefit from strengthening their jurisdiction on that matter. This article briefly explains the Brazilian Competition System by describing the structure of the Brazilian competition authority (CADE – Administrative Council for Economic Defense) and the main economic violations set forth by Brazilian law. It describes the convergence of competition with the consumer protection system. It also discusses three relevant pharmaceutical market cases examined by the competition authority (sham litigation, overpricing and economic abuse, buy-and-raise and exclusionary practices). Finally, it presents some lessons from the Brazilian case on the challenges of using competition law to confront abuse or misuse of intellectual property rights in the pharmaceutical market, with lessons to other developing countries.

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Investment Policy Brief No. 24, 9 December 2021

Potential Claims related to IP and Public Health in Investment Agreements: COVID-19, the Proposed TRIPS Waiver and Beyond

By Cynthia Ho

An under-examined issue during the COVID-19 crisis is the potential liability of countries under investment agreements for taking steps to mitigate COVID issues.  This Policy Brief provides an overview of how countries may be liable to companies for taking domestic action to protect public health, including pre-COVID claims related to Intellectual Property (IP), as well as possible claims because of COVID emergency measures, including claims that could result if the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Waiver was adopted.  The current COVID-19 crisis opens the opportunity to consider and reevaluate the unnecessary threat of international agreements that allow for investment claims and potentially consider their termination.

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Working Paper on Pandemic Treaty, 23 November 2021

A New Treaty on Pandemics: Some Key Issues from a Global South Perspective

By Tamara Luciana Bustamante, Josefina del Rosario Lago, Mariana Magliolo, & Lucas Javier Segal, Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de Buenos Aires

In view of both the difficulty that negotiations on a possible new treaty will present for States of the Global South and their special needs, this paper aims to contribute by identifying and giving content to certain key issues —though not exhaustive— that should be taken into account by negotiators of a possible new treaty on pandemics or any other instrument on the subject in the future. The selected key issues are addressed through four cross-cutting questions: (i) Why is each issue relevant for the Global South, (ii) where it is currently regulated, (iii) what are the problems it entails, and (iv) how could a new instrument address them.

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SouthViews No. 231, 29 November 2021

Waive IP Rights & Save Lives

By Srividhya Ragavan

In October of 2020, when India and South Africa proposed a waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS agreement, it was meant to increase local manufacturing capacity in these countries. The waiver was proposed as a tool to kick-start prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19. While there is an imminent need to meet a growing supply-demand gap for all medical products, COVID-19 related products are urgently required in poorer nations to contain the pandemic. The waiver has an additional role to play in the larger trade schema. In enabling vaccination of populations across the globe, the waiver would be critical to normalize global trade. The paper below captures the benefits of the waiver and compares it with the existing flexibilities under the trade regime, being compulsory licensing.

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