Lack of coherence in policies affect access to Medicines

At WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) meeting Brazil called attention to the lack of policy coherence in a world where at one moment countries endorse the use of compulsory licensing to promote access to medicines for all, and in separate fora criticize developing countries for actually considering or issuing such compulsory licenses.
If the compulsory licensing of medicines is truly supported, it should not be subject to bilateral and unilateral trade pressures.

WIPO and WTO, both international organizations dealing with Intellectual Property Rights could play an important role in addressing this lack of policy coherence. The countries most committed to bilateral and unilateral trade pressures could be asked to elaborate the rationale and criteria they use to punish countries that simply try to carry out the mandate of paragraph 4 of the Doha Declaration of TRIPS and Public Health, and to explain why they believe such pressures are in fact consistent with the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health and the WHO Global Strategy on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property.

At that same meeting Venezuela mentioned that the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) should consider issues such as the treatment of goods in transit, for cases where products with different patent landscapes move in international trade. Many seizures have taken place in EU member states these last months.

Another demand is that countries develop information on state practices, that is on the way countries implement limitations and exceptions to remedies associated with the exclusive rights of patent, with a focus on the flexibilities of the TRIPS. This would include cases where non- voluntary authorizations to use patents replace injunctions to enforce exclusive rights.


Will ACTA have an impact on generic medicines?

Negotiators for 38 countries (among them the EU) are meeting, in secret sessions in Mexico to consider a new trade agreement on the enforcement of intellectual property rights. It is not known if this secret agreement called ACTA (Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement) will address the enforcement of patents. If so, the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) should ask the countries involved to make the negotiating text of the ACTA public, so its implication for the patent system can be discussed at the next meeting of the SCP. The ACTA negotiations lack of transparency, together with the degree to which the voices and interests of consumers and developing countries have been marginalized in the ACTA negotiation, raises many concerns.

With respect to patents on standards, the proposals of WIPO to consider a protocol on disclosures of assertions of patent rights as they related to proposed standards is welcome. These include suggestions that a failure to constructively disclose assertions of patent rights in a standard should eliminate remedies to enforce the patent, against relevant implementations of that standard. Such a protocol, would make it easier to develop standards, including the open standards that are increasingly important for innovation.

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