Posts Tagged: "World Trade Organization"

The TRIPS Waiver: What Does it Mean to Change the Rules of the Game?

A terrible idea – wayward and ill-conceived, criticized by all economic, political and geopolitical fronts – has come to fruition. The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) TRIPs waiver on patents related to COVID-19 vaccines will disincentivize the entire industry from investing in vaccine production. To understand what happens next, let’s understand history first.

WTO Announces COVID Vaccine Waiver Deal That Virtually No One Wants

Following a week of round-the-clock deliberations, the World Trade Organization (WTO) this morning announced a deal on waiver of IP rights for COVID-19 vaccine technologies under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The final text has made almost no one happy and largely mirrors the draft text going into negotiations, with a few key changes. With respect to open questions in the draft text, the final agreement indicates that all developing country WTO Members will be considered eligible to take advantage of the waiver, but that those with “existing capacity to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines are encouraged to make a binding commitment not to avail themselves of this Decision.” This language is primarily targeted at China, which has publicly stated that it would not use the waiver provision but had objected to language based on percentage of global vaccine exports that would have categorically excluded it. The draft text had encouraged members with vaccine export capabilities to opt out rather than to make a binding commitment.

Vaccine Access Advocacy Groups Speak Out as COVID IP Waiver Talks Heat Up

The People’s Vaccine Alliance issued a statement today, one day before the World Trade Organization’s 12th Ministerial Conference is set to end, accusing the United Kingdom and Switzerland of being “major blockers of the TRIPS waiver for twenty months while millions have died without access to COVID-19 vaccines.” Anna Marriott, Policy Lead at the People’s Vaccine Alliance and Health Policy Manager at Oxfam, said the two countries “have repeatedly disrupted negotiations using the amendment process to ensure that any text is difficult to use or implement” and added: “It would be totally false for rich countries to shift the blame for the current state of TRIPS negotiations onto anybody else.”

WTO Conference Could End with Agreement on COVID Vaccine IP Waiver This Week

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) 12th Ministerial Conference is set to take place this week, June 12-15, at WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. As part of the four-day meeting, discussions around the latest text of the proposal to waive intellectual property (IP) rights under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for COVID-19 vaccine technology will take place around the clock, and it is expected that some agreement will be reached. TRIPS Council Chair, Ambassador Lansana Gberie of Sierra Leone, said on June 7 that “delegations have entered into real negotiation mode in the last 24 hours,” and that she is “feeling cautiously optimistic now that we will get this text ready for adoption by ministers in time for the coming weekend.”

Draft COVID Patent Waiver Text Officially Sent to WTO Membership

World Trade Organization (WTO) director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala yesterday sent a letter to Ambassador Lansana Gberie, Chair of the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), explaining that an informal group of delegates from the United States, the European Union, India and South Africa have reached a draft outcome document on the proposal to waive IP rights for COVID vaccine-related patented technologies. The text largely tracks that of a draft circulated in March, but some open questions remain for the broader membership to resolve.

Government-Forced Technology Transfer Is Almost Always Wrong

What does the invasion of Ukraine have to do with COVID-19? Would you believe intellectual property is the link? Stay with me on this; it’s an interesting story. Recently, it was confirmed that the Main Intelligence Department of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine – apparently with some help from volunteer hackers – managed to breach the network of Russia’s most guarded nuclear power facility and make off with extremely valuable trade secrets. The Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant contains the world’s only two operational “fast breeder” reactors. More than 20 countries, including the U.S., Japan and France, have been working for decades on this technology, which is supposed to be able to extract close to 100% of the energy from uranium, compared to about 1% for light water reactors. In other words, this is a process that can produce large amounts of energy while completely consuming the fuel and creating virtually no nuclear waste. Whoever is able to commercialize it will make a fortune. So far, no one has come close to the Russians.

Senators Tell Raimondo COVID Waiver Compromise Would Be a ‘Gift’ to China and Russia

Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) sent a letter yesterday to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo expressing their “grave concerns” with the compromise language agreed on recently in the ongoing talks to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-related technology under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. On March 15, the European Union, United States, India and South Africa announced the compromise language. The text is not final and still must get official approval from all 164 World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries.

Latest WTO Waiver Compromise Text Targets COVID Vaccine Patents, Draws Criticism from Both Sides

Reports overnight indicated that the European Union, United States, India and South Africa have reached a compromise on language for a waiver of intellectual property rights related to COVID-19 vaccine technology under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. The compromise is not final and still must get official approval from all 164 World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries. The latest text is limited to “patented subject matter required for the production and supply of COVID-19 vaccines” only; the previous proposal was much broader. “Patented subject matter” is defined as including “ingredients and processes necessary for the manufacture of the COVID-19 vaccines.”

Abusive IP Litigation Poses Threat to Innovation at Home and Abroad

The World Trade Organization (WTO) was scheduled in December to hold its 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva, bringing together officials from 164 countries to negotiate the future of global trade. Concerns over the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) were expected to feature in discussions, however, in-person deliberations have been tabled until at least March as a result of growing health concerns related to the Omicron COVID-19 variant. In the meantime, it is important leaders consider how TRIPS can be strengthened and refined as needed. TRIPS plays a crucial role in driving global innovation, but ambiguities surrounding the agreement’s dispute settlement mechanism have led some to conclude that it is vulnerable to abuse by countries seeking to advance their national interests.

Iancu and Kappos: TRIPS IP Waiver Proposal Will Kill More People Than It Saves

A webinar hosted on Tuesday, January 12, by The Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project featured former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Directors Andrei Iancu and David Kappos, as well as Duke University Professor of Law and former USPTO Administrator of the Office of External Affairs Arti Rai, discussing the proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive IP rights under the Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement for certain COVID-19 technologies. While all three panelists agreed that the IP waiver discussion has become a distraction that will not solve the fundamental problems, Iancu and Kappos were especially passionate that the precedent set by the U.S. government’s decision to back the proposal could do very real harm, rather than good.

Tillis Pushes Tai Again on TRIPS IP Waiver Proposal, as South Africa Asks to Delay Delivery of Vaccines

Yesterday, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), the Ranking Member on the Senate IP Subcommittee, wrote to Ambassador Katherine Tai, the United States Trade Representative who is responsible for negotiating an IP Waiver to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO). This TRIPS IP Waiver is generated by proposals submitted by South Africa and India and seeks the waiver patent and trade secret protections relating to COVID-19 innovations. This is the fifth such letter Tillis has sent Tai. As noted by Senator Tillis and many commentators, including here on IPWatchdog, the proposed TRIPS IP Waiver is nothing more than an attempt to steal intellectual property rights covering important innovations that took nearly a generation to bring to fruition. And now we have definitive proof.

This is What’s at Stake if WTO Removes Protections for Lifesaving Medicines

Experts agree: The COVID-19 vaccines are one of humanity’s greatest achievements. The previous record for vaccine delivery was almost five years; today’s innovators delivered the COVID-19 vaccines in less than one. The achievement is a testament to the dedication of those innovators, as well as the strength of the policy framework that supports their work. Unfortunately, some people want to destroy that framework. Some nations are promoting a dangerous proposal, supported by the administration, to waive intellectual property (IP) protections – such as patents and trade secrets – for COVID-19 vaccines. At the end of November, at a World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting, they’ll present this proposal as the best way to defeat the pandemic. But what they won’t mention is that their approach will actually threaten ongoing vaccine production, hurt our successful health care innovators, patient safety, economic competitiveness, American leadership, and the discovery pipeline in the process. 

Iancu, Locke and Kappos Slam Biden Administration’s Support for COVID IP Waiver in New White Paper

Former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Directors Andrei Iancu and David Kappos, and former Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, today released a White Paper calling the Biden Administration’s decision to support a waiver of intellectual property protections for COVID-19-related technologies under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) “strategic folly.” The report was produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In the paper, titled “The Shot Heard around the World”, the three officials, two of whom served under the Obama Administration, explained that the United States must indeed ramp up its efforts to improve vaccine diplomacy and to distribute more vaccines globally, but that “[w]aiving IP protections would not lead to the manufacture of a single additional dose of a vaccine.” Instead, they proposed a number of alternative solutions to solve the “real problems.”

COVID IP Waiver Attempts are Becoming Harder to Justify

Last week, at a meeting of the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), World Trade Organization (WTO) members had an opportunity to engage in small group and bilateral meetings to discuss the proposals by South Africa and India to waive patent and trade secret protections relative to COVID-19 innovations, as well as the proposal from the European Union regarding the use of current TRIPS compulsory licensing provisions during a pandemic. Some delegations believed the discussions were encouraging, while others expressed more skepticism, pointing out that a deal will not be achieved “unless delegations are able to make some real compromises.” See Members pursue convergence for IP COVID-19 response.

Iancu, Kilbride, Israel Separate Fact from Fiction During IPWatchdog LIVE Panel on TRIPS IP Waiver

On Monday of IPWatchdog LIVE in Dallas, a panel on “The TRIPS IP Waiver: Separating Fact & Fiction” was moderated by president and CEO of the PCT learning center and founding partner of Berenato & White, John White, and featured IP leaders Andrei Iancu, Patrick Kilbride, and Chris Israel. The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement is an international agreement among members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which sets minimum standards in the international rules governing intellectual property. In 2020, India and South Africa proposed a TRIPS Agreement waiver proposal that would temporarily waive intellectual property rights protections for technologies needed to prevent, contain, or treat COVID-19, including vaccines and vaccine-related products. The proposal has been hotly contested globally, but the Biden Administration said in May of this year that the United States would back it.