TRIPS

South Centre Semester Report, January-June 2021

South Centre Semester Report, January – June 2021

This Semester Report summarizes the activities undertaken by the South Centre during the period 1st January to 30 June 2021. It is intended to provide information, organized by themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the Centre’s Work Program, meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or provide analytical support for negotiations taking place in various international fora, and conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated. It also informs about publications of the outcomes of internal policy-oriented research and external contributions made as a result of cooperation with the Centre.

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Policy Brief 97, July 2021

The WTO TRIPS Waiver Should Help Build Vaccine Manufacturing Capacity in Africa

 By Faizel Ismail

The current global health crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has re-focused our attention on the inadequacy of the TRIPS agreement and the patent system to address global public health crises. This time, developing countries must ensure that the TRIPS waiver succeeds in creating the impetus for the building of manufacturing capacity in the poorest countries, especially in Africa, for vaccines, pharmaceuticals and other health technologies. This is the only effective way in which African countries can reduce their dependence on imports of essential medicines and build their health security, contributing to the achievement of the sustainable development goals, for the poorest countries.

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SouthViews No. 225, 21 July 2021

Vaccine Nationalism 

By Prof. Ujal Singh Bhatia

The author posits that the global public health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic along with the economic and distributional aspects of vaccines and treatments, involves a market failure without the underlying institutional safety nets for an effective, globally coordinated response. He proposes strong, self-standing institutions with clear mandates and resources to make effective interventions at three levels: political, financial and regulatory. Also, the WTO rules regarding export restrictions are at present too accommodative to allow for a quick response. For Intellectual Property, both manufacturing and licensing, and relaxation of IP rules should be considered.

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Rapport sur les politiques 93, Juillet 2021

Un nouveau traité international de l’OMS sur la préparation et la riposte aux pandémies : pourra-t-il répondre aux besoins des pays du Sud ?

Par Dr. Germán Velásquez et Nirmalya Syam

Dans un récent communiqué signé par 25 chefs de gouvernement et le Directeur général de l’OMS, ceux-ci ont appelé à la négociation d’un traité sur les pandémies afin de permettre aux pays du monde entier de renforcer les capacités et la résilience des pays aux niveaux national, régional et mondial face aux futures pandémies. La pandémie de COVID-19 a démontré la fragilité des mécanismes dont dispose l’OMS pour se préparer et réagir aux pandémies. L’utilisation d’instruments contraignants pour promouvoir et protéger la santé dans le contexte des pandémies est nécessaire. Si les États Membres de l’OMS décident que le recours à un traité international de préparation et de riposte aux pandémies est la voie à suivre, il serait important de clarifier dès le départ les éléments et les domaines qui feront l’objet de négociations. La première étape devrait consister à identifier les aspects de la préparation et de la réponse aux pandémies dont la crise actuelle a révélé les inefficacités, et à déterminer comment s’appuyer sur les instruments existants, notamment le Règlement sanitaire international (RSI). Ce document examine certaines des questions essentielles qui devraient être abordées dans un tel traité si les négociations sont lancées, en tenant compte des besoins des pays à niveaux de développement différents et des capacités disparates pour mettre en œuvre les obligations découlant du traité.

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Informe Sobre Políticas 93, Julio 2021

Un nuevo tratado internacional de preparación y respuesta ante pandemias: ¿Podrá atender a las necesidades del Sur Global?

Por Germán Velásquez y Nirmalya Syam

Un reciente comunicado conjunto de 25 Jefes de Gobierno y el Director General de la OMS han pedido que se negocie un tratado sobre pandemias que permita a los países de todo el mundo reforzar las capacidades y resiliencia nacionales, regionales y mundiales ante futuras pandemias. La pandemia del COVID-19 ha demostrado la fragilidad de los mecanismos a disposición de la OMS para la preparación y la respuesta a las pandemias. Es necesario utilizar instrumentos vinculantes para promover y proteger la salud en el contexto de las pandemias. Si los Estados miembros de la OMS deciden que el camino a seguir es un tratado internacional para la preparación y respuesta a las pandemias, sería importante tener claro desde el principio los elementos y áreas que serán objeto de negociación. El primer paso debe ser identificar los aspectos de la preparación y la respuesta ante una pandemia que la crisis actual ha puesto de manifiesto que no funcionan, y cómo aprovechar los instrumentos existentes, especialmente el Reglamento Sanitario Internacional (RSI). Este documento analiza algunas de las principales cuestiones que deberían abordarse en un tratado de este tipo si se inicia la negociación, teniendo en cuenta las necesidades de países que están en diferentes niveles de desarrollo y con capacidades dispares para aplicar las obligaciones del tratado.

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Statement, June 2021

Statement by the South Centre on the extension of the transition period for LDCs under the TRIPS Agreement

The TRIPS Council decision to extend the TRIPS transition period for LDCs until 1 June 2034 confirms their right to an extension but it regrettably does not meet the scope and duration that the LDCs requested. Read our statement …

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Research Paper 132, June 2021

Interpreting the Flexibilities Under the TRIPS Agreement

By Carlos M. Correa

While the TRIPS Agreement provides for minimum standards of protection of intellectual property, it leaves a certain degree of policy space for WTO members, whether developed or developing countries, to implement the Agreement’s provisions in different manners, to legislate in areas not subject to the minimum standards under the Agreement, and to develop legal interpretations of such provisions to determine the scope and content of the applicable obligations. This paper focuses on some aspects of how panels and the Appellate Body of the WTO have interpreted said provisions. The paper also draws general conclusions for the implementation of TRIPS flexibilities, which are of crucial importance for the design of a pro-competitive intellectual property system and, in particular, for achieving public health objectives, as specifically recognized by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.

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Research Paper 131, June 2021

TRIPS Flexibilities and TRIPS-plus Provisions in the RCEP Chapter on Intellectual Property: How Much Policy Space is Retained? 

By Vitor Henrique Pinto Ido

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed on 15 November 2020 by 15 Asian-Pacific countries (ASEAN—Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam—, and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand), comprising about one third of the world’s population and economy. India was a crucial party to the negotiations but opted out of the agreement. Ratification of the agreement is still pending, subject to more Parties ratifying it at the national level. This paper provides a broad overview of the RCEP agreement and discusses the details of the intellectual property (IP) Chapter. Significantly, it does not contain substantive TRIPS-plus provisions that undermine public health in developing countries—although it does contain such provisions in other areas such as copyrights, trademarks, and IP enforcement.

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Policy Brief 94, June 2021

The Role of Courts in Implementing TRIPS Flexibilities: Brazilian Supreme Court Rules Automatic Patent Term Extensions Unconstitutional

By Vitor Henrique Pinto Ido

This policy brief provides a background, summary and analysis of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court decision of 6 May 2021 that ruled automatic patent term extensions unconstitutional, striking down Article 40, Sole Paragraph, of the Brazilian Industrial Property Code of 1996. It concludes that this is a landmark ruling that contributes to the implementation of a more balanced patent regime in Brazil, with a positive impact on access to medicines in the country. It is an important precedent in relation to the role that courts may play in defining the contours of intellectual property protection and the TRIPS flexibilities.

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Material de capacitación 1, Junio 2021

Propiedad intelectual y acceso a medicamentos: una introducción a cuestiones clave – algunos términos y conceptos básicos 

Por Germán Velásquez

La propiedad intelectual y las patentes en particular se han convertido en uno de los temas más debatidos sobre el acceso a los medicamentos, desde la creación de la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC) y la entrada en vigor del Acuerdo sobre los Aspectos de los Derechos de Propiedad Intelectual relacionados con el Comercio (ADPIC). Las patentes no son de ninguna manera las únicas barreras para el acceso a medicamentos que salvan vidas, pero pueden desempeñar un papel significativo, o incluso determinante. Durante el período de protección de la patente, la capacidad del titular de la patente para determinar los precios, en ausencia de competencia, puede hacer que el medicamento resulte inalcanzable para la mayoría de las personas que viven en los países en desarrollo. Este primer número de los “Materiales de capacitación del South Centre” pretende, en su primera parte, ofrecer una introducción a cuestiones clave en el ámbito del acceso a los medicamentos y la propiedad intelectual. La segunda parte describe y define algunos términos y conceptos básicos de esta área relativamente nueva de las políticas farmacéuticas, que son los aspectos comerciales de los derechos de propiedad intelectual que regulan la investigación, el desarrollo y el suministro de medicamentos y las tecnologías sanitarias en general.

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SC Webinar, 28 May 2021

Emerging Trends in FTAs and Public Health: Investment Agreements and Intellectual Property

Friday, 28 May 2021 – 16:00-17:30 (CET)

The inclusion of TRIPS-Plus provisions in developing country IP laws, as a result of negotiations of free trade agreements (FTAs) continues to be of concern. In addition, there are various emerging areas that require attention from developing countries, where accumulated knowledge and institutional learning are more limited. These include investment agreements that include ‘intellectual property’ as a category of investment – with subsequent ISDS mechanisms, as well as competition and investment chapters or agreements that may restrict the policy space, such as the China-EU Comprehensive Investment Agreement. There are several important developments to consider for the upcoming years. New negotiations in the period of Covid-19 crisis, when countries are in dire financial situations, may lead to even more unbalanced negotiations. The UK is pursuing new agreements after Brexit with developing countries, while the USA has signaled renewed attention to multilateralism and at the same time is continuing to make use of Section 301 of its trade law to advance reforms in third countries. The AfCFTA negotiations of the intellectual property chapter are set to start this year. Moreover, the RCEP Agreement is to be implemented via national law amendments and attention must be given in particular to the process for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the technical assistance offered.

In this context, the South Centre is holding a series of webinars on emerging trends related to free trade agreements (FTAs) and investment agreements that impact public health. In this first session, we will discuss the topic of investment agreements and intellectual property, including varied angles to the issue, such as perspectives for post Covid-19 agreements, the legal construction of IP as a category of investment, the challenges of ISDS and policy reform options, and the analysis of a concrete case.

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Policy Brief 93, May 2021

A New WHO International Treaty on Pandemic Preparedness and Response: Can It Address the Needs of the Global South?

By Dr. Germán Velásquez and Nirmalya Syam

A recent joint communiqué by 25 Heads of Government and the WHO Director-General have called for the negotiation of a pandemic treaty to enable countries around the world to strengthen national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of the mechanisms at the disposal of WHO for preparedness and response to pandemics. The use of binding instruments to promote and protect health in the context of pandemics is needed. If WHO Member States decide that an international treaty to prepare and respond to pandemics is the way forward, it would be important to have clarity from the outset on the elements and areas that will be the subject of negotiation. The first step should be to identify the aspects of pandemic preparedness and response that the current crisis has revealed are not working, and how to build up on the existing instruments, notably the International Health Regulations (IHR). This paper discusses some of the critical issues that should be addressed in such a treaty if negotiations are launched, in view of the needs of countries at different levels of development and with disparate capacities to implement treaty obligations.

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