Author: KM Gopakumar

Little Evidence to Support WIPO’s Formula “IP = Innovation = Development”

[Originally posted on twn.my, Link] There is little evidence to support WIPO’s approach of asserting intellectual property as a central piece of innovation, says Professor Carlos Correa, Senior Advisor at South Centre. Prof. Correa, a renowned IP expert,  was speaking at a side event on the “Future of WIPO’s Development Agenda”, organised by the South Centre, in conjunction with the meetings of the WIPO Assemblies (2-11 October) in Geneva. During his opening speech at the Assembly, WIPO Director-General Dr Francis Gurry had underlined the importance of IP and innovation. He said:  “ … innovation, … lies at the heart of the mission of intellectual property.  Innovation has become a central element of the economic and industrial strategies of a wide spectrum of countries, not just the most advanced technologically, but also middle-income and other countries seeking to transform economies to a more sustainable basis of value addition.  Its fundamental importance has been recognized in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.  Gurry also claimed that WIPO’s Global Innovation Index “established itself as the leading international reference for measuring innovation capacity and performance.” Prof. Correa pointed out that the negative externalities of IP on development could be even located in the TRIPS Agreement. He cited Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement, which allows least developed countries the option to not undertake obligations under the Agreement.  It states: “In view of the special...

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Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab Letter to Indian Chief Justice re: Meeting of IPAB, Delhi High Court, and IP Owners Associations

Letter sent by Kalyani Menon-Sen, Leena Menghaney, and KM Gopakumar on behalf of the Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab We write to you on behalf of the Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab, a network of treatment activists, patients and public interest lawyers committed to making the breast cancer drug – trastuzumab – affordable in India. We have closely followed the misuse of patent rights and more recently the vexatious litigation of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd in India to maintain control over the market for the life saving drug (trastuzumab), thus blocking access to treatment for many women diagnosed and suffering from HER2+ breast cancer. This letter is to express our grave concern about the intent and purpose of the “Innovation Dialog” being organised in India from November 16-22, 2014 by the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPOA). Click here for the full...

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Civil society concerns over India-US Joint Working Group

[Cross posted from TWN, Link] Several civil society organisations and individuals have expressed earnest concerns over the India-United States Joint Working Group on Intellectual Property. A collective sign-on letter from more than 50 organisations, networks and individuals to India’s Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi sets out the concerns over the decision to establish the Working Group that was announced in a US-India Joint Statement dated 30 September 2014.  The letter urges the Prime Minister to approach the intellectual property (IP) issue with a “holistic perspective rather the narrow confines of trade and economic policy”. (See list of signatories below.) The letter that was publicized in a press release on 22 October 2014 requests the Prime Minister: To make public the specific purpose of the Joint Working Group on IP; To maintain the Government of India’s stand of non-cooperation with any unilateral measures by the US Government on this front; To refrain from going ahead with the proposed bilateral annual forum on IP, particularly in the absence of a domestic process on IP issues; To pursue an inclusive public consultation approach for the formulation of India’s IP Policy, a process which is underway within the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry; To maintain the flexibilities in the various domestic IP statutes and not to amend any of the IP statutes in order...

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WIPO: Failure to reach consensus, “no decision” adopted on four issues

[Reposted from TWN News, Link] Member States at the recently concluded 46th General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) adopted a “no decision” outcome when consensus failed on four key issues. This occurred on past midnight of the last day of the session that was held from 22 to 30 September 2014. Despite intensive informal consultations over several days and evening some nights, the WIPO General Assembly concluded at 12.30 am without any decision on four areas viz. the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (Agenda item 16), Design Law Treaty (Agenda Item 15), the Standing Committee on Copyrights (Agenda item 14), and Matters Concerning External Offices and the establishment of WIPO External Offices (Agenda item 12). The Chair took up the agenda items in a chronological order at the final plenary which started around 9.30 pm instead of its original scheduled time of 4 pm. A series of informal consultations failed to bring consensus among the Member States.  Even though, according to many delegates prior to the final plenary, there was some consensus on the way forward with regard to the establishment of External Offices and the Standing Committee on Copyrights, amendments were proposed by several Member States to the Chair’s text on these two issues at the plenary.  Since there was no consensus the Chair proposed to adopt “no decision”...

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Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab: Protecting Profits More Important than Protecting Patients?

The Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab deplores the ex-parte order of the Delhi High Court on a petition by Swiss pharma major Roche, effectively preventing Biocon  from marketing of a biosimilar of the breast cancer drug trastuzumab. [The order is available here: http://lobis.nic.in/dhc/MAN/judgement/06-02-2014/MAN05022014S3552014.pdf] It seems that the order has been issued with little concern for the Supreme Court guideline on ex-parte injunctions. According to the Supreme Court of India – “Experience reveals that ex-parte interim injunction orders in some cases can create havoc and getting them vacated or modified in our existing judicial system is a nightmare. Therefore, as a rule, the court should grant interim injunction or stay order only after hearing the defendants or the respondents and in case the court has to grant ex-parte injunction in exceptional cases then while granting injunction it must record in the order that if the suit is eventually dismissed, the plaintiff or the petitioner will have to pay full restitution, actual or realistic costs and mesne profits.” [1] Both these directions by the Supreme Court have been ignored in the present order. The action of the court in giving an interim ex-parte injunction in a case where access to a life-saving drug is at stake, is unwarranted and inexplicable. The court has prevented Biocon from “relying upon or otherwise referring to HERCEPTIN, HERCLON or BICELTIS including data relating to its manufacturing process,...

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WIPO: Developing Countries Oppose Proposals on Work-sharing in Patents Committee

Reposted with permission from Third World Network, Link Alexandra Bhattacharya and K M Gopakumar (Geneva) Developing countries, during a discussion in WIPO on quality of patents, questioned the value of work-sharing arrangements among national/regional patent offices as a method of improving the quality of patents, and opposed efforts by developed countries to mainstream “work-sharing” in WIPO. The 20th session of the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents is meeting in Geneva from January 27-31, 2014. Since the 16th SCP session in 2011 developed countries have made several submissions with the explicit objective of setting a work program in SCP onwork-sharing. Under the pretext of wanting to improve “quality of patents” these submissions seek to use WIPO, an intergovernmental forum to promote as a norm work-sharing among patent offices and consequently reliance on other patent offices with the objective of expediting patent examination and accelerating the granting of patents. Work sharing is broad term used to describe various bilateral and plurilateral arrangements between/among patent offices to assist countries to expedite the examination of applications and granting of patents. These arrangements include: use of search and examination results of other patentoffice; accelerating the granting of a patent based on the decision of another patent office; collaboration between/among patent offices to jointly exam patent applications; various platforms and tools to share information on search and examination. Developing countries have in the...

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Access to Medicines Resolution Adopted by UN Human Rights Council

[Reposted with author’s permission from TWN Info] The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution on access to medicines despite opposition from the United States and the European Union. This was at the 23rd session of the Council held in Geneva on 27 May-14 June 2013. The resolution was sponsored by developing countries as a follow-up to the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Anand Grover, on access to medicines (see SUNS #7599 dated 6 June 2013). The resolution titled “Access to medicines in the context of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” was adopted on the basis of a vote on 13 June (now officially available as A/HRC/RES/23/14 dated 24 June 2013). Out of 47 members of the Human Rights Council, 31 voted for the resolution while 16 abstained from voting. [The following countries voted in favour of the resolution: Angola, Argentina, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Qatar, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. [The following countries abstained from voting: Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Poland,...

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WIPO: Treaty concluded for visually impaired to access published works

[Published in SUNS #7614 dated 27 June 2013] Marrakesh, 26 Jun (K. M. Gopakumar) — Major breakthrough negotiations on an International Treaty for Visually Impaired Persons/Persons with Print Disability concluded late night on 25 June. The Treaty creates a legal obligation on the part of the Contracting Party to provide an exception or limitation in its national copyrights law on the right of reproduction, the right of distribution, and the right of making available to the public, to facilitate availability of the works in accessible format copies. The Treaty covers persons with blindness, visual impairment, reading disability or any other physical disability which prevents them from holding or manipulating a book or to focus or move their eyes in the normal speed. The informal negotiations on the final night resolved the major contentious issues related to the requirement of commercial availability, the Berne Gap (countries that are not Parties to the Berne Declaration for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works) and the three-step test, individual right to import an accessible format copy of a work, technology protection measures (TPM), the right to translation, cooperation to facilitate cross-border exchange and concerns of least developed countries (see SUNS #7611 dated 24 June 2013). The major achievement of the negotiations is in three areas: First, negotiators decided to drop the commercial availability test requirement in the importing country for the cross-border...

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South to Introduce Resolution on Access to Medicines

(Reposted with permission from the TWN Info Service) Developing countries are set to introduce a resolution on access to medicines at the current session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The 23rd regular session of the Human Rights Council is taking place from 27 May to 14 June in Geneva and the draft resolution is expected to come up for consideration next week. Brazil, in its intervention on the “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Anand Grover, on access to medicines” (A/HRC/23/42), stated that developing countries including India, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt and Thailand will introduce the draft resolution at the Council. It will take forward the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur. It is learned that informal negotiations are already underway. The draft resolution requests States, the UN and other intergovernmental organisations to address the existing challenges with regard to access to medicines in the context of the right to health, and the ways to overcome those challenges. The report of the Special Rapporteur on access to medicines, which was introduced at the Council meeting on 27 May, “identifies and analyses challenges and good practices with respect to access to medicines in the context of the right-to-health framework”. It uses the key human rights framework on access to medicines, i. e....

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