The WTO’s Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council discussed the topic of e-commerce last week for the first time since 2003, sources said, during a 7-8 June meeting in Geneva. Other topics on the meeting’s agenda included sustainable resources and low emission technology strategies, and the perennial issues of non-violation complaints and the relationship between the TRIPS agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In addition, the EU presented its new Trade Mark Directive and Trade Mark Regulation, which raised concerns with some members over possible restrictions on the transport of generic medicines through the 28-nation bloc’s borders.
I am speaking on behalf of the American University Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property. And I speak as an educator myself and also on behalf of a larger network that I coordinate called the Global Expert Network on User Rights which is a network of educators.
Although I teach in a Northern school in Washington, D.C., I also spent some time teaching in a major university in South Africa where the context of access to educational materials is very different. When I taught an advanced constitutional class there of 70 students, only about five or six of the students could purchase the learning materials, the textbooks we were using for that class. The rest of them after each day would huddle in the library and attempt to share and read the copies that were on reserve in that space. And that’s the reality around much of the world – text books are priced similarly in poor countries and rich countries, but because of the disparities in income, students in poor countries cannot afford their learning texts.
[Teresa Hackett, Electronic Information for Libraries, Link (CC-BY)] In the digital environment, librarians deal with questions of copyright every day. But restrictive copyright laws can hinder the library’s efforts to provide access to knowledge. Two global copyright days – UNESCO’s World Book & Copyright Day that took place on 23 April, and WIPO’s World Intellectual Property Day on 26 April – presented a great opportunity to highlight the work that librarians in the EIFL network do to overcome copyright restrictions and serve library users.
We marked the two days with a social media campaign, which also featured EIFL’s wide range of multi-language resources on copyright, and showed how librarians in EIFL partner countries are using the resources to advance their work.
Dear Mr. Bhanu Pratap Sharma, Chairman.
We would like to transmit to you and all assistants our best wishes for the success of this session, where governments, intergovernmental bodies and non-state actors are trying to get one step closer on mechanisms that will address the well known inefficiencies of the R&D model based on monopoly prices, inefficiencies that have caused innumerable harmful effects on people’s health and well-being.
But we need to put under your consideration, and the consideration of delegates and assistants, a special situation we are currently facing that reflects both the urgency and the interests that are preventing nations from reaching a global solution promptly.
[World Health Organization, Link] Summary: Intellectual property plays an important role both for the researching pharmaceutical industry, which relies heavily on intellectual property to protect its products, and for generic companies, which produce copies of existing medicines once patent protection expires. Beyond patent protection, trademarks are another form of intellectual property rights used to identify and market pharmaceutical products. Trade secrets and protection of clinical test data are other important elements of this industry. Consequently, how a national intellectual property system is set up is important when considering options for local production of pharmaceuticals in developing countries.
This statement calls on the High-Level Panel to promote policy coherence in the international intellectual property, human rights and global health system in part through a strong articulation and examination of the implications of the human rights duty to interpret and implement all legislation to promote the right to health and corresponding rights to access needed medicines. The submission describes why such a mandate – from the lens of international economic theory – would lead to the conclusion that states must make maximum use of routine compulsory licensing programs for pharmaceuticals to rectify intellectual property and health concerns. It then articulates how adoption of the interpretive rule should justify and motivate specific government actions – including minimizing the scope of patent rights and maximizing the use of routine compulsory licensing – that would help reduce the incoherence between rights of inventors, international human rights laws, trade rules, and public health objectives.
[IP Watch, Link (CC-BY)] Today, United States President Barack Obama sent two signed multilateral copyright treaties negotiated at the World Intellectual Property Organization to the US Senate for ratification. The treaties are the 2012 Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances and the 2013 Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired.
[MPP Press release, Link, (CC-BY-NC-ND)] Geneva, 20 January 2016 – The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) announced its first round of sub-licences for the generic production of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s daclatasvir, a novel direct-acting antiviral that is proven to help cure multiple genotypes of the hepatitis C virus. Generic companies Cipla, Emcure, Hetero and Natco have signed non-exclusive, royalty free agreements with Bristol-Myers Squibb and the MPP to produce and sell daclatasvir in 112 low- and middle-income countries.
[Electronic Information for Libraries, Link (CC-BY)] The 31st session of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright & Related Rights (SCCR), that met in Geneva from 7 to 11 December 2015, had a full agenda that included discussion on the protection of broadcast organizations, limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, presentation of a study on museums, and two new proposals by member states.
In a proud moment, the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities was ratified by two more countries, bringing the number of ratifications to thirteen. On the downside, there was no agreement to hold regional meetings on libraries and archives.
The United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines is calling for contributions by interested stakeholders that address the misalignment between the rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health where it impedes the innovation of and access to health technologies.
In particular the High-Level Panel will consider contributions that promote research, development, innovation and increase access to medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and related health technologies to improve the health and wellbeing of all, as envisaged by Sustainable Development Goal 3, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development more broadly.
Introduction: GRULAC presents a proposal of discussion on questions regarding the update of copyrights related to ongoing uses of protected intellectual goods in the digital environment in the works of the Standing Committee of Copyright and Related Rights of the World Intellectual Property Organization (SCCR/WIPO).
Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights: Thirty-First Session December 7-11, 2015 (Geneva, Switzerland)
Thank you for recognizing me on the issue of promoting limitations and exceptions for educational purposes, potentially within the discussions underway on the needs of libraries.