- November 1, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject: Science and Technology
WTO’s TRIPS council to meet on IP waiver extension for Covid diagnostics and therapeutics this week to reach a decision on the crucial issue by the deadline of December 17.
- At the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference a temporary IP waiver for Covid-19 vaccines extended under specific conditions.
- However, a decision on diagnostics and therapeutics was postponed by six months, till December 17.
Present Waiver position:
- It waives only Article 31(f) of the TRIPS Agreement–
- 31(f) of the TRIPS Agreement states the bulk of production should not be exported. This provision limits the supply of vaccines under compulsory licence to countries which can’t produce them.
- Thus, the waiver allows only the export of vaccines under a compulsory licence.
- A compulsory licence is granted to allow a third party to produce patent-protected products including medicines.
- Example- Globally, vaccine production is concentrated in a few countries, including India.
- This means Indian companies may use a compulsory licence under the Indian Patents Act to export a part of the production, but not the bulk of it. The waiver offers no advantage to Indian vaccine producers.
- Under Section 92 of the 1970 Indian Patents Act, the central government has the power to allow compulsory licenses to be issued at any time in case of a national emergency or circumstances of extreme urgency.
Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement:
- The TRIPS agreement was negotiated in 1995 at the WTO, it requires all its signatory countries to enact domestic law.
- The TRIPS Agreement is also described as a “Berne and Paris-plus” Agreement.
- The TRIPS Council is responsible for administering and monitoring the operation of the TRIPS Agreement.
- It guarantees minimum standards of IP protection.
- TRIPS establishes minimum standards for the availability, scope, and use of seven forms of intellectual property namely, trademarks, copyrights, geographical indications, patents, industrial designs, layout designs for integrated circuits, and undisclosed information or trade secrets.
- It applies basic international trade principles regarding intellectual property to member states
- TRIPS Agreement lays down the permissible exceptions and limitations for balancing the interests of intellectual property with the interests of public health and economic development.
- In 2001, the WTO signed the Doha Declaration, which clarified that in a public health emergency, governments could compel companies to license their patents to manufacturers, even if they did not think the offered price was acceptable.
- This provision, commonly referred to as “compulsory licensing”, was already built into the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha declaration only clarified its usage.
|Intellectual property rights are customarily divided into two main areas:
Copyright and rights related to copyright:
The rights of authors of literary and artistic works (such as books and other writings, musical compositions, paintings, sculpture, computer programs and films) are protected by copyright, for a minimum period of 50 years after the death of the author.
It also protects the rights of performers (e.g. actors, singers and musicians), producers of phonograms (sound recordings) and broadcasting organizations.
It involves the protection of distinctive signs, in particular trademarks and geographical indications.
Other types of industrial property are protected primarily to stimulate innovation, design and the creation of technology. In this category fall inventions (protected by patents), industrial designs and trade secrets.
Article 8 allows members to adopt measures necessary to promote the public interest, including to protect public health – so long as those measures are consistent with the TRIPS Agreement.
The flexibilities identified in the Doha Declaration include “the right to grant compulsory licences”.
A compulsory license is issued by a government authority or a court to make certain use of a patented invention without the consent of the patent holder.
Article 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement gives full legal effect to this system and allows low cost generic medicines to be produced and exported under a compulsory licence exclusively for the purpose of serving the needs of countries that cannot manufacture those products themselves.