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Original Title: Exclusive | The EU Explains the Alternative Vaccine Patent Exemption Scheme in the WTO, India: The diagnosis is correct, the correct prescription is not found
The EU advocates still using the existing compulsory licensing mechanism based on TRIPS.
A reporter from China Business News learned from an authoritative source that the EU has explained in detail its exemptions for intellectual property rights against the new crown vaccine at the recent informal meeting of the WTO’s “Trade-related Intellectual Property Agreement” (TRIPS) Council. The alternative proposal proposed by the bill.
It is reported that the proposal (IP/C/W/681) was distributed to all members within the WTO on June 18. CBN reporters also saw this proposal. The central element of the proposal is that the EU maintains that the existing compulsory licensing mechanism should still be used in accordance with TRIPS.
However, after the EU stated its propositions, differences between the parties remained. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli, Chairman of the TRIPS Council, concluded that well-known differences still exist on the common goal of where to focus on ensuring that all parties can respond quickly and effectively to the pandemic. However, there is no procedure that can eliminate the gap between different views and methods. The only way out is to conduct substantive discussions as members are currently doing.
The relevant person in charge of the International Department of the Ministry of Commerce of China said on the 7th that China expressed support for Chinese vaccine companies in technology transfer, cooperative production, and provision of more vaccines. At the same time, it supports the WTO’s early decision on the temporary exemption of intellectual property rights for the new crown pneumonia vaccine, and calls for the establishment of a community of human health and a community of shared future in the Asia-Pacific.
The EU supports the use of existing compulsory licensing mechanisms
Recently, WTO members have agreed to hold a text-based procedure for the new crown vaccine patent exemption proposal, and have decided that they are willing to follow the proposal of South Africa and India (IP/C/W/669/Rev.1) and the proposal of the European Union (IP/ C/W/681) to conduct constructive discussions, the purpose of which is to improve the response of all parties to the epidemic and achieve the common goal of providing equitable global access to vaccines and other medical products.
At an informal meeting on the 24th local time, the European Union reiterated that it was possible to ensure fair access to vaccines and medicines while maintaining protection of intellectual property rights while explaining its proposal. Maintaining the protection of intellectual property rights can be used as a cornerstone for stimulating investment in innovation and the transfer of licensed technology so that all parties can effectively combat new strains in the epidemic and any future diseases and epidemics.
As mentioned earlier, the EU advocates the use of the existing compulsory licensing mechanism under TRIPS.
In layman’s terms, Article 31 of the TRIPS Agreement stipulates the circumstances under which compulsory licenses can be granted: for example, in a state of national emergency or other extreme emergency, where the patentee abuses his private rights to constitute an unreasonable monopoly, public non-commercial use, etc. Both can be granted. In addition to the above-mentioned circumstances, members can freely determine which circumstances constitute the reasons for a compulsory license, and the use of a compulsory license is not limited to the above-mentioned circumstances.
This time the EU stated that the added value of its proposal is that the proposal can be quickly adopted, because its purpose is not to modify, but to clarify the relationship between TRIPS Article 31 and other relevant legal provisions.This means that WTO members will not have to engage in lengthy debates or procedures, because the scope of these provisions will remain unchanged.
In an interview with a reporter from China Business News, several WTO experts also confirmed to reporters that the negotiations on TRIPS are relatively lengthy, as has always been the case for negotiations on patents.
The EU explained in detail the three main elements of its proposal at the meeting.
The first major factor is that governments do not have to negotiate with patent holders during the epidemic, which is usually the longest part of the compulsory licensing process.
The EU representative said that some members raised questions about whether this fast-track procedure can only be used for compulsory licenses for domestic use, but in their view, this possibility also applies to export licenses, which is part of the compulsory licensing mechanism. A key element.
The second major element of the proposal is that it will provide legal certainty in fair and transparent remuneration. The government will support manufacturers to set remuneration to rights holders to ensure that this does not become a hindrance to increasing production and reflects the price of vaccines or medicines produced under compulsory licenses.
The third major factor of the proposal involves the country-to-country application issues in the compulsory licensing mechanism frequently raised by all parties. The EU stated that it wants to ensure that willing manufacturers can easily export to all eligible countries through a simple procedure, including through the “New Coronary Vaccine Access Mechanism (COVAX)”.
Therefore, the initiative aims to clarify the notification procedure specified in paragraph 2c of the annex to the TRIPS Agreement, which will allow WTO members to submit a single notification that includes a list of all countries to which vaccines and drugs will be provided. This notification is not only effective when the exporting member directly exports vaccines, but also when it is carried out through COVAX facilities.
The EU stated that, in short, the proposal seeks to substantially strengthen the flexibility of TRIPS and the legal certainty required for its use. The EU’s goal is to bring all parties closer together in this way in their discussions and find solutions quickly.
India: The diagnosis was right, but the right prescription was not found
After the EU’s speeches, the delegations of South Africa, India, Tanzania, Indonesia, Nigeria, Bolivia, Pakistan, Namibia, and Zimbabwe spoke successively and emphasized that the views put forward by the EU only reiterated the existing rights of the member parties under the TRIPS Agreement.
These members emphasized that although the flexibility of TRIPS is important, it is not enough to deal with such a large-scale epidemic, and the current situation can only be resolved through exemption proposals. They stated that once approved and applied, the exemption will provide parties with an effective and rapid way to eliminate intellectual property barriers that hinder the use of existing intellectual property rights.
In his speech, the representative of India made an analogy and pointed out that the EU correctly caught and diagnosed the disease in its proposal, but the patients recommended by it had been treated before and did not cure the disease: in fact, these treatments Even further exacerbated the symptoms. India concluded that in this case, it is essential to find new treatments. This is the exemption (proposal).
Some delegations welcomed the EU’s proposal but requested some clarification. These delegations include the United States, Singapore, Australia, Colombia, Chile, South Korea, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
China welcomes all proposals that can expand vaccine production capacity and promote equitable access to vaccines, and asks for more time to review EU proposals. At the same time, China urges members to reach agreement on possible ways forward as soon as possible, especially on how to deal with these two different proposals.
Previously, South Africa and India submitted a revised proposal (IP/C/W/669/Rev.1) on exempting intellectual property rights for the new crown vaccine. In the previous version on October 1, 2020, this text has made two major changes: First, it is more clear that the proposed exemption scope is “health products and technologies”, including “diagnosis, treatment, vaccines, medical Equipment, personal protective equipment and their materials or components, as well as manufacturing methods and means for preventing, treating or controlling the epidemic”; second, it is clear that the exemption will be valid for at least three years, and the WTO General Council will continue to implement this exemption. Upon review, if exemption is not required, the WTO General Council can decide the date for the exemption to cease.
The EU and other developed country members reiterated that as part of the TRIPS Council’s text-based process, the two proposals made by the EU and the South and India should be on an equal footing.
It is reported that the next informal meeting of the TRIPS Council will be held on June 30, and the members will hold a group meeting.
Previously, the WTO members decided that before the end of July, all parties would prepare a report on the negotiation of intellectual property patent exemptions for the new crown vaccine and submit it to the next WTO General Council to be held from July 27 to 28. .
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Editor in charge: Zhao Siyuan