Statement against the harmonisation of patents

General Statement of the third World Network (TWN) ro WIPO Assembly

During the last 15 years developing countries are coping with an inequitable international patent regime as a fall out of the Agreement on Trade Related aspects of intellectual property rights. (TRIPS).

It involves great amount of resource to cope with the implementation of TRIPS patent regime. Developing countries are yet to come in terms with the challenges paused by the compulsory product patent regime for pharmaceuticals and patent protection for life forms.

Developing countries are incorporating TRIPS flexibilities to safeguard the critical public policy concerns coming out of TRIPS patent regime. Against this background TWN feels that it is not the right time to discuss harmonisation of patents.  The call for harmonisation of patent law ignores the development disparity existing among WIPO member states. Harmonisation would take away the policy space of developing countries, which enjoyed by many developed countries in the past.

There are lot of assumptions surrounding the patent system. One of the important assumption is related the role of patent in stimulating inventions.  This assumption is now being challenged.

The Commission on Public Intellectual Property, Innovation and Public Health emphasized the inability of patent regime to stimulate the research and development in the area of diseases conditions relevant to developing countries.
Consequently, one can infer from the conclusions of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH) that patents are not stimulating any research and development to meet the public health needs of developing countries. The report also show the mismatch between the number of patents on pharmaceuticals and the number of new molecular entities obtained marketing approval.

The WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property, recommended the need for new incentives for research and development (R&D), which delink cost of R&D from the price of the product.

There are also evidence now available on the abuse of patent rights to prevent and innovation.  According to the European Competition Commission inquiry report on pharmaceutical sector adopted by the European Commission in 2009 state as follows.  “The findings of the
inquiry suggest that in recent years originator companies have changed their patent strategies. In particular, strategy documents of originator companies confirm that some of them aimed at developing strategies to extend the breadth and duration of their patent protection.” The inquiry report further states that “inquiry finds that individual medicines are protected by up to nearly 100 product-specific patent families, which can lead to up to 1,300 patents and/or pending patent applications across the Member States”.

These real situations challenge the assumption of patent as a tool for stimulating R&D.  Similarly, there is littlie evidence on the role of patents as a tool for facilitating technology transfer and foreign direct investment. We urge the SCP to examine the truth behind some of these assumptions. The SCP also needs to provide an opportunity to interested member countries to present empirical evidence to show whether these assumptions hold good in their country situation. This is important because most of the preliminary studies quote these assumptions, which do not reflect the reality especially in the developing countries.

Go back