TRIPS Agreement

SouthViews No. 268, 12 July 2024

A New World – Without Patents

By Calixto Salomão Filho

Patent law has a profound impact on the social, environmental, and economic dynamics of societies. This commentary is a critical academic perspective on the theoretical underpinnings of patent law.

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Research Paper 203, 11 July 2024

The Vaccine Industry After the COVID-19 Pandemic: An International Perspective

By Felix Lobo

The purpose of this report is to analyze the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the vaccine industry from an international perspective. The objective is to learn from the experience and contribute to the design of better tools for future vaccine development and manufacturing, as we must be prepared for future emerging infectious diseases with the potential for global expansion. This industry makes fundamental contributions to global social welfare, but from a business point of view it is complex and difficult to manage, and from an economic point of view it is an industry that does not fit the paradigm of competitive market efficiency with notorious market failures.

We examine the impact of the pandemic on innovation and the scientific, technological and industrial development of vaccines and find that certain elements of the industry’s structure have changed, while others have remained. We also summarize the lessons learned from the deployment of some public policies to boost supply and drive demand, paying particular attention to the inequity in the global distribution of vaccines and to the COVAX program. We conclude that some of the policies have been very effective, while others have not fully achieved their objectives. From the achievements and limitations, lessons can be drawn for the reformulation and expansion of global public policies that would stimulate R&D, manufacturing, distribution and access.

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Research Paper 198, 31 May 2024

What Can Cambodia Learn from Thailand and India as It Prepares to Graduate from Least Developed Country Status?

By Brigitte Tenni, Deborah Gleeson, Joel Lexchin, Phin Sovath, and Chalermsak Kittitrakul

Cambodia is expected to graduate from Least Developed Country status soon, at which time it will be required to make patents available for pharmaceutical products and processes to meet its obligations under the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Given its impending transition from LDC status, there is a need to balance Cambodia’s intellectual property (IP) policies and regulations with public health priorities to ensure access to affordable life-saving medicines. This will be critical to achieving universal health coverage, one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. This paper examines Cambodia’s IP laws and regulations to identify provisions that could reduce access to affordable generic medicines when it starts granting patents for pharmaceuticals. It systematically compares Cambodia’s IP laws and regulations with those of Thailand and India – two developing countries that have had some successes in preserving access to medicines despite the introduction of pharmaceutical patents. It identifies lessons for Cambodia from the experiences of Thailand and India in implementing TRIPS and using TRIPS flexibilities such as compulsory licensing to ensure access to a sustainable supply of affordable generic medicines. Key recommendations for reform for Cambodia include strengthening the use of preventive and remedial TRIPS flexibilities and removing criminal sanctions for patent infringements. Cambodia should reject any TRIPS-plus provisions in its patent legislation and avoid membership in bilateral or plurilateral trade agreements that include TRIPS-plus provisions as well as signing patent treaties and memorandums of understanding  that may facilitate the granting of unwarranted patents.

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Research Paper 197, 28 May 2024

Compulsory Licensing as a Remedy Against Excessive Pricing of Life-Saving Medicines  

By Behrang Kianzad

The COVID-19 crisis intensified decade-long debates on the interaction between intellectual property rights (IPRs), competition law and access to affordable life-saving treatments and vaccines. Compulsory licensing of patented medicines is a tried-and-tested method to expand access, particularly in a situation of “national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency” within the meaning of Article 31(b) of the TRIPS Agreement. Some legislations, such as European competition law, offer a toolbox for curbing the exercise of IPRs if they would be found in conflict with certain competition rules, such as rules prohibiting excessive pricing by dominant undertakings. The paper analyses the interface between intellectual property law and competition law in general, moving on to the settled case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on this matter. It provides a general overview of legal and economics arguments related to excessive pricing prohibition and the main case law of European competition law on the matter and discusses whether compulsory licensing as a remedy against excessive pricing of patented life-saving pharmaceutical products can be a viable and appropriate remedy. Finally, the paper offers policy recommendations relating to compulsory licensing based on excessive pricing.

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SouthViews No. 261, 23 April 2024

Proposal for a new Article 11bis in the WHO Pandemic Accord: a Pandemic Technology Transfer Mechanism

by Olga Gurgula and Luke McDonagh

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the failure of voluntary mechanisms during global emergencies and exemplifies the need for effective involuntary technology transfer tools. The WHO Pandemic Accord offers an opportunity to provide an effective mechanism to build upon existing TRIPS flexibilities in the specific pandemic context. We propose a new provision (Article 11bis) that outlines a mechanism on cross-border procedure of non-voluntary technology transfer during a pandemic. This procedure could be invoked in a pandemic scenario in which voluntary technology transfer mechanisms have failed to provide sufficient supplies of a needed pandemic product.

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Documento de investigación 196, 19 de abril de 2024

Licencias obligatorias para exportación: operacionalización en el orden jurídico argentino  

Por Valentina Delich

En el año 2017, entró en vigor la enmienda del Acuerdo sobre los Derechos de Propiedad Intelectual relacionados con el Comercio (ADPIC), por la cual se incluyó el artículo 31 bis en su texto. Esta disposición permite las licencias obligatorias para exportación a terceros países sin o con insuficiente capacidad de producción local. El objetivo es paliar las dificultades de los países sin infraestructura de producción de medicamentos para que puedan hacer un uso efectivo de las licencias obligatorias y así fortalecer el acceso a los medicamentos a un menor precio. Argentina es un país que tiene infraestructura de producción de medicamentos y potencialmente podría devenir en un exportador eficiente. Este documento explora la posible instrumentación del art. 31 bis en la legislación de Argentina, proponiendo incorporar en la ley de patentes nacional el instituto de la licencia obligatoria humanitaria.

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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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Documento de investigación 195, 6 de marzo de 2024

Régimen de licencias obligatorias y uso público no comercial en Argentina 

Por Juan Ignacio Correa

Con la adopción del Acuerdo sobre los Aspectos de Propiedad Intelectual relacionados con el Comercio (ADPIC), la Argentina debió adaptarse a las nuevas reglas internacionales en materia de derecho de patentes. Uno de los puntos centrales del Acuerdo es la posibilidad de establecer diferentes formas de licencias obligatorias y uso gubernamental no comercial. Este documento analiza las condiciones previstas en el artículo 31 del ADPIC con ese fin y examina en detalle las diferentes causales de licencias obligatorias contempladas en la legislación argentina y las condiciones aplicables a cada una de ellas, así como para el uso de patentes por parte del gobierno con fines no comerciales. Finalmente, con base en el margen normativo del ADPIC y la legislación vigente, el documento discute el posible contenido de una reglamentación de licencias obligatorias y uso público no comercial que permita a la Argentina utilizar de manera efectiva esas herramientas cuando se presente alguna de las circunstancias previstas en la actual regulación.

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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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Policy Brief 125, 12 February 2024

WTO MC13: TRIPS Issues and Technology Transfer

 by Viviana Munoz Tellez, Nirmalya Syam

This Policy Brief discusses issues concerning trade, intellectual property, and technology transfer that are most relevant for consideration at the 13th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC13) in February 2024 and inclusion in its outcomes.

The following recommendations are proposed:

  • TRIPS non-violation and situation complaints: MC13 Decision on the scope and modalities of non-violation and situation complaints under the Agreement on Trade related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). A second option is to extend the moratorium.
  • TRIPS, diagnostics and therapeutics for COVID-19: MC13 Decision that extends the MC12 TRIPS waiver Decision (only applicable to vaccines) to diagnostics and therapeutics
  • Relationship between TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity: to be addressed in the MC13 Outcome Document
  • Follow up to the MC12 Declaration on the WTO Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Preparedness for Future Pandemics: to be addressed in the MC13 Outcome Document
  • Relationship of trade and technology transfer: include in the MC13 Outcome Document to reinvigorate and give direction to the Working Group on Trade and Technology Transfer (WGTTT) and increase attention in all relevant bodies on how the WTO can promote technology transfer

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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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