South Centre Statement to the 64th WIPO General Assembly (2023)
The South Centre, the intergovernmental organization of developing countries, actively promotes balancing public and private interests in the IP system. In accordance with the mandate of the 2007 Development Agenda (DA) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which WIPO as a UN specialized agency must contribute to, development, sustainability and human rights should be at the core of WIPO’s activities. WIPO should remain a Member State-driven, development-oriented organization.
The South Centre remains available to all developing countries’ delegations to provide further information and support on these matters, during and after the Assemblies.
Experiencias internacionales sobre la concesión de licencias obligatorias por razones de salud pública
Por Catalina de la Puente, Gastón Palopoli, Constanza Silvestrini, Juan Correa
El presente estudio tiene como objetivo analizar los regímenes de licencias obligatorias (LOs) en países seleccionados, en particular los elementos económicos de la concesión de las LOs, la determinación y negociación de regalías al titular del derecho. Para ello se realizó un análisis descriptivo y exploratorio de experiencias de concesión de LO en países seleccionados, con foco en las experiencias de los países en vías de desarrollo por su proximidad al caso argentino.
En particular se discuten los ejemplos de experiencias de emisión de medidas de LOs o de UG en países en vías de desarrollo. Con especial foco en Latinoamérica, donde sólo dos países han hecho uso de dichas medidas por razones sanitarias (Ecuador y Brasil). Además se examina la eficacia del empleo de LO o de UG en la reducción de precios donde se evidencian ahorros significativos Como conclusión se propone elaborar una metodología en relación a las regalías para Argentina mediante un rango de pago que tome en consideración criterios de accesibilidad y asequibilidad poblacional a la tecnología licenciada, así como la sustentabilidad de los presupuestos de los agentes financiadores.
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).
El debate sobre la exención de los derechos de propiedad intelectual en tiempos de pandemia
El 11 de marzo de 2020 la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) comunicó que la enfermedad por coronavirus de 2019 (COVID-19), podía ser considerada una pandemia. A medida que el contagio de la enfermedad aumentaba se hizo evidente la insuficiencia de los recursos sanitarios, vacunas y métodos de diagnóstico y tratamiento para enfrentar con éxito la pandemia. En este contexto, en la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC) se reavivó la tensión entre las reglas de propiedad intelectual y la salud pública.
Como consecuencia de ello, el 2 de octubre de 2020, Sudáfrica e India, presentaron ante la OMC una propuesta para que ciertas disposiciones del Acuerdo sobre los ADPIC no resultaran de aplicación para cualquier producto o procedimiento destinado a la prevención, contención y tratamiento de la COVID-19. Esta propuesta de exención (waiver), contó con la férrea oposición de la Unión Europea que presentó una propuesta alternativa. Para intentar llegar a un acuerdo se formó una comisión cuadrilateral conformada por Sudáfrica, India, la Unión Europea y EEUU. Finalmente, luego de dos años de negociaciones y en el marco de la 12ª Conferencia Ministerial (MC12) celebrada en Ginebra el 17 de junio de 2022, se aprobó un proyecto de exención de los derechos de propiedad intelectual que dista mucho de la propuesta original de 2020.
El presente trabajo, analiza detalladamente el proceso de discusión – en torno al tema del “waiver” – dado en el Consejo de los ADPIC de la OMC: estudia los antecedentes de la propuesta de exención, analiza los documentos presentados por las partes en pugna, revisa los argumentos esgrimidos a favor y en contra del waiver, los instrumentos propuestos y, asimismo, muestra cómo se desenvolvieron las distintas posiciones hasta alcanzar el acuerdo final.
Autores: Alejandra Aoun, Juan Correa, Martín A. Cortese, Vanesa Lowenstein, Sandra C. Negro, Guillermo E. Vidaurreta
Left on Our Own: COVID-19, TRIPS-Plus Free Trade Agreements, and the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health
By Melissa Omino and Joanna Kahumbu
The cusp of the twentieth anniversary of the WTO Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health (hereafter “the Declaration”) was marked by a global pandemic. The Declaration and its iteration in the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (hereafter “TRIPS”) Article 31 bis, should have helped to contain the devastation in least developed and developing countries. The reality is that the pandemic is still ongoing, and the Global South led by South Africa and India are seeking a waiver of provisions to the TRIPS Agreement to ensure that COVID-19 therapeutics, diagnostics, and vaccines reach their citizens in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus (“the TRIPS waiver”). These citizens are especially vulnerable because of their inability to access vaccines due to their prices and supply shortages caused by the refusal to share manufacturing technology. The Doha Declaration aimed at reaffirming the interpretation and implementation of the TRIPS Agreement to support WTO members’ right to protect public health and promote access to medicines. However, the operationalization of the Declaration via Article 31bis of TRIPS has been cumbersome and procedurally difficult to navigate. This paper argues that the current iteration of the Doha Declaration within TRIPS fails to meet the objectives of the Declaration as demonstrated by the need for a further waiver of the TRIPS agreement. It also attempts to “reimagine” Article 31 bis in light of the TRIPS waiver from the position of the Global South to make it more equitable and practicable and maintain the spirit of the Declaration.
International Clean Technology Diffusion: Pathways and Prospects
By Wenting Cheng
International clean technology diffusion is essential to mitigate and adapt to climate change, while fast and optimal diffusion can be prevented by the paywall of patents. This article examines three pathways to foster international clean technology diffusion: through restriction of intellectual property, including imposing external restraints in environmental law; striking an internal balance in maximizing TRIPS flexibilities; and keeping the status quo. It finds that the first two treaty-based pathways may not work, and an operable pathway to promote clean technology diffusion is to maximize and consolidate TRIPS flexibilities in national laws. This option challenges the popular proposal of a “Doha-like” declaration on TRIPS and climate change due to the paralysed multilateral trade mechanism, asymmetrical negotiation power of developing countries, prolonged negotiation process, and categorization problem in treaty negotiations.
The WTO TRIPS Decision on COVID-19 Vaccines: What is Needed to Implement it?
By Carlos M. Correa and Nirmalya Syam
The 12th WTO Ministerial Conference adopted a Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement on 17 June 2022. This partially concluded almost two years of protracted discussions in response to a proposal by India and South Africa for a waiver from certain obligations under the TRIPS Agreement for health products and technologies for the prevention, treatment and containment of COVID-19. The adopted Decision only waives the obligation under article 31 (f) of the TRIPS Agreement. Developing country WTO members are now allowed to export any proportion of vaccines, including ingredients and processes, necessary for the COVID-19 pandemic that are manufactured under a compulsory license or government use authorization to other developing countries. It also contains some clarifications of relevant TRIPS provisions, while introducing a number of conditionalities that are not present in the TRIPS Agreement. This paper examines the object and scope of the Decision, the requirements established for its use, and the required actions to be taken by WTO members to implement it.
TRIPS Flexibilities and Access to Medicines: An Evaluation of Barriers to Employing Compulsory Licenses for Patented Pharmaceuticals at the WTO
By Anna S.Y. Wong, Clarke B. Cole, Jillian C. Kohler
Under Articles 31 and 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement, WTO members may validly sanction the use of a patented invention without the patent owner’s authorization by issuing a compulsory license (CL). In the pharmaceuticals space, governments have historically employed compulsory licenses to compel originator manufacturers to license their patents to generic manufacturers before patent expiry, increasing the supply and reducing the price of patented pharmaceuticals domestically.
This paper evaluates the three primary barriers to employing compulsory licenses for pharmaceuticals underscored by members during TRIPS waiver discussions at the WTO: (1) a lack of enabling domestic legislation, (2) a lack of domestic manufacturing capacity coupled with an unworkable Article 31bis importation system, and (3) consistent political pressure from other members to refrain from issuing compulsory licenses. A survey of members’ domestic compulsory license legislation finds that virtually all members have enacted enabling legislation under Article 31 for the issuance of compulsory licenses to supply their local markets. However, implementation of Article 31bis is limited by a lack of enabling compulsory license export legislation, streamlined administrative processes, or both across all members, preventing members lacking domestic manufacturing capacity from importing pharmaceuticals. An analysis of USTR Special 301 Reports from 1994-2021 further reveals that countries have consistently been placed on the Special 301 Report Priority Watch List for issuing pharmaceutical compulsory licenses, with instances as recent as 2020. As such, general reluctance by members to issue compulsory licenses due to overt political pressure through the Special 301 Report is likely warranted. These results highlight a range of barriers preventing the full use of compulsory licenses for pharmaceuticals under the current Article 31 and 31bis framework, with the effects disproportionately borne by member states lacking domestic manufacturing capacity.
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).
Statement by the South Centre to the 2022 Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO
The South Centre is the intergovernmental organization of developing countries based in Geneva that supports developing countries’ efforts to build up a fair and inclusive multilateral system conducive to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are of the view that a central objective of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as part of the United Nations (UN) UN system should be to support the achievement of such goals through the promotion of a balanced international intellectual property (IP) system that reflects the interests of countries at different levels of economic and technological development, and in line with the WIPO Development Agenda.
Twenty Years After Doha: An Analysis of the Use of the TRIPS Agreement’s Public Health Flexibilities in India
By Muhammad Zaheer Abbas, PhD
The World Trade Organization (WTO) linked intellectual property protection with trade. The WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), however, included a number of public health flexibilities in order to provide latitude to the Member States to tailor their national patent laws to fit their individual needs. In 2001, the Doha Declaration further clarified and reaffirmed the existing TRIPS flexibilities. This paper argues that India has taken the lead role in enacting the TRIPS Agreement’s substantive and procedural patent flexibilities by introducing unique legislative measures to deal with the problem of access to medicines. This article evaluates India’s use of section 3(d) as a subject matter exclusivity provision. It examines constitutional validity and TRIPS compliance of section 3(d). It also evaluates India’s use of the flexibility to define the term “inventive step”. Moreover, this article evaluates India’s use of compulsory licensing, the most notable exception to patent rights provided under the TRIPS Agreement. This empirical study is important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has once again highlighted the same public health issues that the Doha Declaration sought to address twenty years ago.