WTO TRIPS Council (June 2014) - India's intervention on Intellectual Property and Innovation: Innovation Incubators
On Wednesday, 11 June 2014, India delivered a statement at the WTO TRIPS Council on"Intellectual Property and Innovation: Innovation Incubators"; Chinese Taipei (WTO speak for Taiwan) and the United States proposed this agenda item.We thank the delegations of the United States and Chinese Taipei for tabling an agenda item on "Intellectual Property and Innovation: Innovation Incubators " which we understand is a standalone item.
WIPO's Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Working Group is meeting from 10 June 2014 to 13 June 2014. Among the hot topics of discussion is a paper tabled by the United Kingdom and the United States on Formal Integration of the Patent Prosecution Highway into the PCT. The basic ask of the UK/US proposal (PCT/WG/7/21) is to amend the regulations of WIPO's PCT Regulations and Administrative Instructions to formally integrate the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) into the PCT system.
WTO TRIPS Council (June 2014): USTR submission on Non-Violation Complaints Under the TRIPS Agreement
On 10 June 2014, the United States tabled a paper (IP/C/W/599) to the World Trade Organization's (WTO) TRIPS Council on "Non-Violation Complaints Under the TRIPS Agreement." This paper is expected to be discussed at the TRIPS Council today (11 June 2014) under agenda item 7 on "Non-Violation and Situation Complaints."
As previously mentioned in our February 2014 piece,
World Health Assembly (WHA 67) agrees to create pooled R&D fund, endorses delinkage of R&D costs from product prices
Today the World Health Assembly (WHA) reached consensus on a "decision", WHA67(15), regarding the Consultative Expert Working Group (CEWG) on Research and Development.
On Friday, 23 May 2014, the World Health Assembly is currently discussing access to essential medicines in the context of resolution EB134.R16, tabled China in January 2014. The following statement was delivered by South Africa on behalf of the 47 members of the African region. South Africa highlighted the point that "vaccines and anti-cancer drugs remain out of reach of millions of people in both developed and developing countries."
Wednesday, at the George Mason University Law Campus in Arlington, VA, the Office of the US Trade Representative hosted an all day Stakeholder Forum in conjunction with the fifth negotiating round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The first part of the day was devoted to Stakeholder Policy Presentations, with several hours of presentations by a variety of industry, academics, trade associations, and public interest groups. The latter part of the day consisted of a briefing by the US Chief Negotiator Dan Mullaney and the EU Chief Negotiator Ignacio Garcia-Bercero.
This Wednesday 21 May 2014, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Civil Society Coalition, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Oxfam, Health Action International (HAI) and Treatment Action Group (TAG) will host a side event at the WHA on, "Innovation and Access to Medicines and Vaccines: Emerging Challenges and Opportunities for Middle-Income Countries."
At the opening of the 67th World Health Assembly, today the Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network (YP-CDN), Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) released a briefing, "Cancer medicines are essential in reducing the global burden of non-communicable diseases."
Human rights VS Patent Monopolies on medicines
Written by Mr. Panayotis Kouroublis, Greek MP, SYRIZA parliamentary representative
Published at http://www.koutipandoras.gr/article/113023/anthropina-dikaiomata-enantion-pneymatikon-dikaiomaton on 3 May 2014
“Diseases such as cancer are considered urgent only when the patient is in the final stage” according to the Greek Minister of Health Adonis Georgiadis in the “Wall Street Journal”. This is the response of the Ministry of Health in relation to the uninsured cancer patients who are forced to discontinue their treatment because they cannot afford it. The blatant cynicism displayed by the government is not only due to the dogmatic faith of the Greek government in the agreements with the Troika but also due to the government’s incapacity to effectively address a series of problems. Minister Georgiadis stresses that there is no room for flexibility in the austerity measures. Nevertheless, solutions are feasible and are foreseen by international law. Most importantly, these have already been implemented by other European countries.
The WTO TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement enables a country facing an emergency to issue a compulsory license for products protected by copyright. If Greece decided to use this legal provision, it could obtain anticancer and other drugs at much cheaper prices while bypassing, in an entirely legitimate manner, the patents held by multinationals. Compulsory licensing has been used in numerous countries including Germany, Italy and the USA. This solution should be taken into account by the Greek government which nonetheless refuses to examine it, despite its proven efficacy. Another solution that is worth considering would be the collective supply of medicines (pooled procurement) by several EU member states joining forces. If Greece decided to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies together with other countries of southern Europe; it could obtain much cheaper prices for much-needed medicines.
The current government is accountable to the Greek people because of its persistent refusal to take advantage of the considerable flexibility provided by the European and international context as regards the supply and procurement of drugs. This is the least, a responsible leadership should have done in view of the humanitarian crisis, the country is faced with. For SYRIZA; the political force fighting for the peoples of Europe and not the multinationals, the bar stands even higher. As a leading opposition party in a country found at the heart of the European financial crisis; SYRIZA’s leader, a candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission will strive to broaden the scope for a different Europe. SYRIZA must question the overall status quo of pharmaceutical research funding, which results in the exclusion of millions of patients from health care to the benefit of some big pharmaceutical companies.
Funding for research into new drugs based on intellectual property creates legal monopolies that favour the companies that have developed these drugs. In essence , the company that owns the patent of a drug is the only one entitled to sell it and it can do so at any price it wishes. Big pharmaceuticals argue that this is the only way to meet the high costs of research and development. The truth is that the cost of R&D constitutes a very small percentage of the total cost of developing a new medicine. In other words, expensive price tags are a way for profiteering for big companies while putting human lives at risk. It is indicative that prices of anticancer drugs have doubled over the last decade; despite angry reactions by doctors and patients’ associations .
The current patent system results in prohibitive costs for patients as well as in a huge waste for healthcare providers. It most importantly raises a wall between the drugs and those who need them the most. It has additional side effects: such as the development of drugs with questionable efficacy, the encouragement of agreessive and misleading promotional practices on behalf of major pharmaceuticals and the obstruction of the development of new, better and affordable drugs. On the whole; the present system of the financing of medical innovation is manifestly unfair, wasteful, ineffective and undermines the right to health of Greeks and Europeans.
The goal should be to “delink” the incentives for research and development from the high prices of patented originator drugs. This can be achieved by setting up a fund for rewarding pharmaceutical innovation to which EU Member States will contribute.This Fund will reward research efforts of private and public entities driven by health outcomes with a view to promoting further research for the benefit of patients. This way companies will be compensated for the costs of research, while the medicinal products will be available in free competition with generics. To this end, drug approval will be under the strict supervision of European and national authorities to ensure the quality .
This is something not unheard of. Under pressure from patients’ associations , health professionals and activists, such proposals have long been discussed at the World Health Organization and the U.S. Congress. The proposed system is much fairer providing a) lower prices and access to life-saving treatments while b) reducing costs for healthcare providers. Finally, it is far more efficient, since it seeks to serve real health needs and not artificial ones created by companies’ marketing strategies.
Europe must prioritise the right of patients to the drugs they need over the right of companies to a monopoly. Today, it is more pertinent than ever. In today’s Greece, where patients literally fight for their lives; their call should be heard across Europe; human rights are more important than multintionals’ intellectual property rights.
Health is the most critical, but not the only sector where large companies impose their rule by force of intellectual property rights. In recent years the proliferation of IPR in many unrelated fields, from seed growers to software developers and from cultural projects to any kind of scientific achievements; the product of human creativity is captured by large companies using IPR monopolies. Society is thus deprived from the most valuable good in the era of information: free access to knowledge.
Proponents of strict patents laws overlook the fact that in science, as in arts, there is no parthenogenesis. The essence of human progress is to copy and modify previous works in order to improve them. Moreover, major scientific achievements rarely are the result of profit-oriented research. These are most often achieved ??by individuals or groups with humanitarian motives experimenting freely with the works of their predecessors. The global free software community that produces innovative and reliable products pro bono capitalizing on existing knowledge without restrictions is another tangible proof. The same was true in the 17th century when Sir Isaac Newton gave credit to Galileo and Kepler, saying : “If I saw farther , it is because I stepped on the shoulders of giants.”
Large multinationals attempt to go against the tide of the dynamism we experience today by trying to control, manipulate and direct intellectual property through legislation. During the ongoing negotiations for the new Transatlantic Free Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP), the EU should stay away from instituionalising the demands of industry. There should be a new set of rules which will foster innovation and creativity where access to knowledge will be governed by the principles of freedom, justice and equity .
10 commitments for candidates to the European Parliament
1. Defend universal access to public health care systems without discrimination for reasons of economic capacity, employment status or nationality. Support the principle of the integration of health aspects into all European policies. Call upon the intervention of the European Commission if the right to health is violated, especially in countries affected by EU mandated public debt reduction policies.
2. Demand the carrying out of an independent health impact evaluation before any substantial financial cut-backs of public health systems when they occur within the context of EU supported austerity measures.
3. Support the creation of a EU fund for health-care solidarity to help EU member states where a hight number of people remain without health-care coverage as a result of EU mandated austerity measures.
4. Promote transparency and public access to data from all clinical trials for existing and new biomedical products.
5. Foster EU cooperation on health technology assessment and promote the use of transparent, unbiased, and robust methodologies to measure the effectiveness and added value of new medicines and technologies
6. Ensure the effective application of the EU Research Programme Horizon 2020 provisions that mandate open access policies for scientific articles and data generated from research financed with EU funding. Support EU policies such as innovation prizes that promote de-linkage between biomedical R and D costs and the price of new medicines.
7. Call for for a new binding EU regulation that demands transparency and full disclosure of the economic relationship between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry.
8. Defend strict EU norms in favour of socially responsible licencing policies for biomedical innovation that has received EU funding.
9. Support the issuing of compulsory licences to guarantee the affordable access to very high-priced life-saving drugs with great evidence of efficacy, such as the case of a treatment against hepatitis C and a few anti-tumoral medicines.
10. Promote fair and equitable EU international trade and development policies that facilitate universal access to essential medicines and that support strong EU funding for research on “neglected” and tropical illnesses that tend to affect countries of the Global South.
Send your support to: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Declaration written and coordinated by Working Group on Health, Medicines and Innovation (GTSMI), TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue, Salud Por Derecho saludporderecho.org, Médicins du Monde, Spain, Pharmacists without Borders, Spain, Confederation of Consumers and Users, Spain, and No Gracias, among other groups and individuals.
WIPO fails to reach agreement to convene a Diplomatic Conference for adoption of the Design Law Treaty
On Thursday, 8 May 2014, the General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) appointed Francis Gurry as Director General for a second term. This second term would run from 1 October 2014 to 30 September 2020.
The General Assembly also addressed the following topic: "Consideration of the Convening of a Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of a Design Law Treaty." At the close of business on Friday, 9 May 2014, the General Assembly could not reach consensus on convening a Diplomatic Conference on concluding the Design Law Treaty.
The 27th session of the World Intellectual Property Organization´s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) took place from 28 April to 2 May in Geneva. The Committee assessed the proposal for a Broadcasting Treaty.
This initiative for a new binding global copyright treaty has been discussed at WIPO for over 10 years at the request of many broadcasters from around the world. This week, several WIPO member states, including the EU, Russia and South Africa called for a diplomatic conference on this treaty in 2015. Nevertheless, there are many questions that remain to be answered, in particular regarding the scope and even the need for such a new global norm. The EU is the strongest supporter of the Treaty while a number of other large countries, such as the US, Brazil and India, are quite sceptical.
According to the broadcasters, a new treaty is needed to prevent “signal piracy”, although it has not been clearly established what signals they wish to protect, whether they are speaking of fixed emissions, simultaneous webcasting, deferred online programming or online retransmissions. There has also been no evidence presented about the harm caused by “signal piracy”.
Many other voices have pointed out that this new treaty would establish yet a new layer of copyright protection and economic rights for broadcasters as intermediaries or distributors of information they do not own and they did not create. Consumers and internet users have also stated fears that the treaty would make it more expensive and complex to legally obtain, access and to use information. There is also worry that new technical protection measures will create new barriers to what is now legally allowed by copyright law in countries with more flexible norms.
Representatives of collecting societies, performers and authors have criticised the Broadcast Treaty proposal as possibly interfering with the normal of copyright protection for creators. A few citizen groups have also called for an impact study to be carried out on the possible consequences of this treaty on users, performers and authors.
When on 2 May, the time came to adopt conclusions and the next steps for WIPO concerning the Broadcast Treaty, the member states were unable to reach any degree of minimum consensus. The collapse of the talks and the absence of any general conclusions or decisions did not happen because of the differences of opinion on the Broadcast Treaty but because of the other issue being considered simultaneously by WIPO: exceptions and limitations for libraries. The EU expressed its profound opposition to any “text-based” consideration of new copyright flexibilities for libraries for conservation, orphan works, scientific research and e-book sharing, among other issues. In response to the EU´s uncompromising stance, other countries, such as Brazil, decided to withdraw their support for the compromise reached to continue serious discussions on the Broadcast Treaty. At 1:30 am on 3 May the meeting adjourned with no agreement on how to proceed on both the Broadcast Treaty and Libraries.
SCCR 27 WIPO *New* Broadcasters’ Treaty: Impact on Rights Owners (30.04.2104)
At WIPO, Authors, Civil Society Watchful Of Rights For Broadcasters (01.05.2014)
EFF – Broadcasting Treaty
WIPO: Scope and rights of potential broadcasting treaty clarified (05.05.2014)
Protection of Broadcasting Organizations – Background Brief
(Contribution by David Hammerstein – TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue)
Published in http://edri.org/copyright-meets-broadcasting-in-geneva/
Decision point for WIPO General Assembly May 2014: Convening a Diplomatic Conference to conclude the Design Law Treaty
On Thursday, 8 May 2014, the General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) appointed Francis Gurry as Director General for a second term. This second term would run from 1 October 2014 to 30 September 2020.
At 5 PM (CET), the General Assembly will address the following topic: "Consideration of the Convening of a Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of a Design Law Treaty."
At 12:56 AM on 3 May 2014, WIPO's Copyright Committee, (SCCR27) could not reach agreement on the future work on "Limitations and exceptions: libraries and archives." The main point of contention was "text-based work" which the European Union sought to excise from the text. Consequently, the Committee was at an impasse in developing an appropriate international legal instrument (in whatever form) on copyright exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives (whether model law, joint recommendation, treaty and/or other forms).
On 30 April 2014, the Hellenic Presidency of the Council of the European Union, represented by the Ambassador of Greece to the UN in Geneva, Alexandros Alexandris signed the Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities also known as the Marrakesh Treaty on behalf of the European Union. The signing ceremony took place at the headquarters of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (henceforth WIPO) in Geneva during the organisation’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) taking place from 28 April to 2 May. France, Greece and India also signed during the ceremony in the presence of WIPO’s Director General Mr. Francis Gurry. This brings the total number of signatories to 64.
This international binding UN/WIPO treaty for the first time aims at ending the “book famine” that deprives 250 million people of access to culture and education. Visually impaired persons only have access to between 1 and 5% of the books published. The agreement focuses on copyright exceptions to facilitate the creation of accessible and affordable versions of books and other copyrighted works. It sets a norm for countries ratifying the Treaty to have a domestic copyright exception covering these activities, and allowing for the import and export of such material.
Irini Stamatoudi, Director General to the Hellenic Copyright Organisation in her speech referred to the fact that the Presidency“ has put its best endeavors to have the decision of the signing of the Marrakesh Treaty by the EU adopted as soon as possible and we succeeded in this goal”.She also stressed that“we want to convey a strong message that we want this Treaty to work and serve its original purpose”.
India sets the example
India pledged to ratify the Treaty by the end of May 2014. India will be the first major world power to ratify it while numerous lessons can be learned from the country’s preparation in order to put the Treaty into effect. There is still considerable work to be done as many EU member states have not yet signed let alone ratified the Marrakesh Treaty even though it has been almost a year since its conclusion. For the Treaty to come into effect, ratification by 20 countries is required.
Executive Director of the European Blind Union (EBU) Central office Mokrane Boussaïd stated that when the treaty is ratified it will open up “huge new opportunities for over 30 million blind and partially sighted people living in Europe in terms of access to information and culture, as well as people with other print disabilities.” He also called for a speedy ratification of the treaty in signatory countries. Ratification must be as widespread as possible, he said, because only organisations in countries which ratify the treaty will be able to exchange books under the terms of this treaty.
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May 2, 2014, during "other matters" to be discussed at the WIPO SCCR, some observers and delegates were a little surprised by the number of delegations who spoke in favor of adding "resale Rights" to the agenda of next SCCR sessions. However, some of the observers and delegates were not at all surprised having observed this week the diligent work of a CISAC representative with various key delegates.
ORPHAN WORKS, RETRACTED AND WITHDRAWN WORKS, AND WORKS OUT OF COMMERCE
May 1, 2014 SCCR TOPIC 7
The discussion regarding orphan works included the rather difficult and political topic of moral rights and the right to withdraw a work from circulation. Can a library reproduce and make available a work that the author wants withdrawn from the public?
For example the Africa group had proposed:
Right to Access Retracted and Withdrawn Works
SCCR 27 May 1, 2014 Limitation of liability for libraries and archives
Michelle Woods for the WIPO SECRETARIAT provided the SCCR with this very useful summary of the various proposals on the table:
This topic is on limitations of liability of libraries and archives. There is also actually a proposal to make that limitations on liability "for" instead of "of" libraries and archives, reflected in the text.
KEI and other NGOs attending SCCR 27 have been able to make interventions on various articles in the proposed library treaty. On the issue of library access to orphaned works, KEI's intervention covered the following points, and made a proposal for text.
1. There is ample evidence that national approaches to providing access to orphan works is quite diverse.
2. The diversity of approaches have been used by some to express pessimism that this issue can be addressed in a treaty.
If the Broadcasters'treaty often appeared to be a treaty in search of a problem in the last few days (or years?), the Libraries and Archives' problem is about a treaty in search of a solution... or maybe solutions. And if the problems (and thus solutions) were not specifically cross borders...well, the librarians and archivists of the world would not be here "en masse" testifying at the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, a Committee extremely proud to have created the WCT and the WPPT to solve the cross border issues of copyright owners.