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Posts Tagged: "TRIPS Waiver"

Senator Tillis Letter to Ambassador Tai: TRIPS Waiver (Copyright)

Dear Ambassador Tai: I write you again today for the fourth time about the Biden Administration’s waiver of international obligations under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS agreement. Last week, several open-content organizations wrote to President Biden and argued that your proposed TRIPS Waiver should cover not just patents, but also copyright and other intellectual property rights. These organizations ask that you include copyright simply because it may apply to software, medicine labels, manuals, or “tools” associated with vaccines. The letter fails to address the importance of these protections to the economy, trade, and employment, the limitations placed on protections to ensure a balanced system, and how copyright protection facilitates the very innovation, creativity, and knowledge sharing that will make it possible for us to end this once in a lifetime pandemic. The inclusion of copyright is both unsubstantiated and unwarranted, and would impose devastating consequences on American creators, businesses and workers, while doing nothing to advance the objective of combatting COVID.

International Academics Push for TRIPS COVID IP Waiver Hold-Outs to Drop Opposition

One-hundred-twenty-four professors and academics from around the world have penned an open letter supporting India and South Africa’s proposed waiver of certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), which they claim will help to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a press release about the letter, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Norway, Switzerland and the EU continue to oppose the waiver proposal. The United States expressed its support for waiver in May. Over the last several weeks, Europe has doubled down on its opposition to the proposal in ongoing talks.

EU Offers Alternative to COVID-19 IP Waiver That Supports Innovation and Addresses Supply Chain Problems

On June 4, the European Commission submitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) its proposal for improving access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments in countries suffering from vaccine shortages. The plan was submitted as an alternative to other proposals that would eliminate international patent rights for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments under the premise that such action would improve vaccine access in poorer countries. While the EU alternative contemplates the possible use of compulsory licensing, it addresses supply chain issues that will help to inoculate the entire globe against COVID-19 much more quickly than any patent waiver could ever hope to accomplish.

The Big Secret Behind the Proposed TRIPS Waiver

All the fuss surrounding the proposal by India and South Africa to suspend the TRIPS Agreement to help them produce vaccines to fight COVID-19 has obscured some critical truths. In spite of the rallying cry “Patents versus People,” it’s not really about patents. And merely lifting TRIPS obligations will do nothing to address the current suffering of the world’s poorer populations. In fact, it would hamper efforts to secure global distribution of vaccines, as well as cause real harm in the long term.

Global IP Policy Should Shift to Promote Patent Sharing

President Biden recently announced his support for easing patent rules surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and other COVID-related intellectual property in the wake of growing crises in India and South Africa. Despite President Biden’s public support, easing the international patent rules requires a unanimous decision on the part of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which is still uncertain. However, with the United States’ announcement, the European Union (EU) will also reportedly consider the issue. Predictably, major pharmaceutical companies, including the three pharmaceutical manufacturers with vaccines approved for use in the United States — Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson —have lobbied against easing patent rules. But, given the uniquely global reach of the pandemic and the practical barriers to the production and distribution of vaccines on a global scale, it would be a mistake not to provide patent infringement waivers. What is the need? What is the legal issue? And will it make a difference?

Mainstream Media Defends Patents? BBC Interview Indicates IP Talking Points on COVID Crisis May Be Reaching a Broader Audience

I happened to be listening to NPR yesterday morning, and caught an interview on BBC Newshour between the BBC’s Razia Iqbal and a representative of the African Union, Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, who is also co-chair of the African Union COVID-19 Africa Vaccine Delivery Alliance. The discussion was somewhat unique in that the BBC host was at several points defending patent rights and pushing her guest to explain precisely how patents are the problem with respect to the undeniable crisis of insufficient vaccine access in the world’s poorest countries. An excerpted and slightly edited transcript of the interview follows

Tai Says United States Will Back India-South Africa Proposal to Waive IP Rights Under TRIPS

Bloomberg first reported today that U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said that the United States will back a proposal by India and South Africa last year to waive intellectual property protections under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. The proposal calls for the suspension of international protections for patents, copyrights, industrial designs, trade secrets and proprietary materials, “in relation to the prevention, containment, or treatment of COVID-19 until widespread vaccination is in place globally and the majority of the world’s population has developed immunity.” Tai reportedly said “We are for the waiver at the WTO, we are for what the proponents of the waiver are trying to accomplish, which is better access, more manufacturing capability, more shots in arms.”

Waiving IP Rights During Times of COVID: A ‘False Good Idea’

Over the course of four months, close to 850 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in over 100 countries. To the extent the unprecedented pace of research, development and manufacturing to combat the ongoing pandemic is a success, it has many fathers. But it would not have been possible without the participation of the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry and its collaboration with global partners. To ensure that developed and developing countries around the globe maintain and expand access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, it is critical that the U.S. government support ongoing industry collaboration and oppose well-intentioned but counterproductive efforts to waive intellectual property (IP) rights.

Countries Like the Philippines are Unable to Utilize IP Flexibilities to Fight COVID-19

The Philippines has so far relied on donations and direct purchase to obtain vaccines to address the pandemic. As of March 2021, the Philippines received 2 million Sinovac doses from China and about half a million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility. However, these doses could only vaccinate 1% of the country’s more than 110 million people. Concerns regarding access to COVID-19 vaccines are also looming in other developing and least developed countries. It is reported that due to a supposed vaccine hoarding by wealthy countries, low-income countries have minute chances of getting their populations vaccinated against COVID-19 in the coming year. On the contrary, wealthier nations have already been able to secure nearly three times the doses needed to vaccinate their entire populations. As the United Nations Secretary General lamented back in February, progress in COVID-19 vaccinations has been “wildly uneven and unfair.”

Calls for Compulsory Licensing and IP Waivers of COVID-19 Vaccines Ignore Technical Complexities

Though it is not over, it seems that the end of the Covid-19 pandemic may be in sight. A select group of countries has managed to bring vaccines to the market in record time. Take the United States, for example. At the time of this writing, three U.S. companies have managed to produce vaccines that received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The intellectual property that underlies these products quite literally has life-saving potential. This achievement no doubt represents a significant feat in human ingenuity, but it also presents a ripe issue in the intellectual property space — namely, compulsory licensing and intellectual property (IP) waivers. Some feel that the cost of sharing this information represents a bold degradation of the intellectual property system. In developing countries, however, the lack of vaccine availability is proving particularly difficult to manage.

Why Innovation Would Survive a COVID-19 TRIPS Waiver

Intellectual property protection has played an important role in this pandemic. As some have pointed out, without legal protection for innovative ideas, there may not have been such a rapid response to the pandemic – both in terms of testing/ treatment and, most recently, vaccines. Companies like Moderna, in conjunction with research and funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have spent a decade developing key technology that enabled quicker vaccine development than ever before. Without some intellectual property protections in place that provide strong financial incentives to invest in new ideas, innovation like this may never have come to light. Nevertheless, India and South Africa initiated a proposal in October that is gaining traction among like-minded World Trade Organization (WTO) members. This proposal would temporarily suspend certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS Agreement) for products related to COVID-19, including vaccines. What began with a handful of nations has now reached a majority, with 57 national sponsors of the proposal, and over 60 WTO members who are in support.

India and South Africa’s COVID Vaccine Proposal to the WTO: Why Patent Waiver Must Be Considered Over Compulsory Licensing

While coronavirus spent the majority of 2020 wreaking havoc on earth, pharmaceutical companies have been busy at work trying to invent a vaccine to combat it. Several companies, such as Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, have competed neck and neck to be the first to deliver a cure to the world. Renowned pharmaceutical companies have been successful in developing the vaccine, which will be protected under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS).

Calls for WTO to Suspend IP Rights for Vaccine Innovation Would Jeopardize Incredible Progress

The biggest vaccination effort in the history of medicine is underway to eradicate the global pandemic, with several strong prospects appearing poised for regulatory approval. As of December 2020, data from the World Health Organization showed over 50 vaccine candidates in clinical research, and 163 more in the preclinical stage. The wait could soon be over. Two separate vaccines – one from Pfizer and BioNTech and one from Moderna – are pending emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The former is already being administered for the first time outside of clinical trials following its approval by the UK government. That’s why recent calls to strip away intellectual property protections are so dangerous. Specifically, some nations have asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive intellectual property protections related to COVID-19 – including not only vaccines, treatments, diagnostics, and medical technologies, but all forms of IP – until the majority of the world’s population has developed immunity. They argue that the current global intellectual property system is a barrier to accessing said COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, diagnostics, and medical technologies.