We have signed a letter shared by Communia – along with a group of more than 400 organizations and individuals from 45 different countries -demanding for intellectual property not to hamper access to knowledge or restrict the use of technologies, medicine and innovation that can cure and save lives. This letter has been addressed to the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Francis Gurry, to ask WIPO to ensure that property regimes support and don’t impede efforts to combat Coronavirus and its consequences. You can find the letter in Spanish and English.
Signatories (researchers, educators, students and others) acknowledge that exemplary measures have already been taken by several countries in this context, measures to facilitate access to academic articles, research data, educational materials, medicines and medical devices subject to exclusive rights. But these measures alone are not enough and more action is needed to ensure that the global intellectual property system prioritizes and promotes public interests that are now vital and we ask WIPO to guide Member States and (also non-members) ) to respond to the intellectual property issues posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, with various measures.
One of the measures suggested by the letter is to support Costa Rica’s call to the World Health Organization (WHO) to create a global pool of rights in COVID-19-related technology and data, and also to promote the ‘use of the Medicines Patent Pool, voluntary licensing, intellectual property pledges, compulsory licencing, use of competition laws and other measures to eliminate barriers to competitive and global manufacture, distribution and sale of potentially effective products to detect, prevent and treat COVID-19.
The Netherlands, Chile, Israel, Canada and Germany have already indicated that they will use compulsory licenses to lift the exclusivity of patents, if necessary.
• Chile, passed a resolution that will allow the government to issue compulsory licensing for producers to release technology and associated patents, which will allow other companies to produce generic versions.
• In Israel it is the first time the government has allowed the use of a generic version of patent-protected medicines, here you can find the resolution in Hebrew
And in Germany, section 13 (1) of the Patent Act, which allows the government to issue compulsory licenses, is a provision that had not been used since 1945.
The letter we signed also calls on states to take advantage of flexibilities in the international system that permit uses of intellectual property-protected works for online education, for research and experimental uses, and for vital public interests, such as access to medicine and culture;
It calls on all right holders to remove licensing restrictions that inhibit remote education, research (including for text and data mining and artificial intelligence projects) and access to culture, including across borders, both to help address the global pandemic, and in order to minimise the disruption caused by it;
It also calls for supporting countries’ rights to enact and use exceptions to trade secret and other intellectual property rights needed to facilitate greater access to manufacturing information, cell lines, confidential business information, data, software, product blueprints, manufacturing processes, and other subject matter needed to achieve universal and equitable access to COVID-19 medicines and medical technologies as soon as reasonably possible.
The international, European and Spanish intellectual property legal framework creates many unfair situations due to the restrictions on the study and use of works and innovations. In this context, all alternatives should be explored to the fullest so in this situation of emergency common sense can prevail and intellectual property won’t prevent access to knowledge or restrict the use of technologies, medicines and innovations that can cure people and save lives.
Foto d’Alissa Eckert i Dan Higgins / Public domain