Open Letter by over 180 International IP Academics in Support of the TRIPS Waiver

Released on 12 July 2021

Available also here at Kent Law School Center for Social Critiques of Law website; International Society for the History and Theory of IP news; on SSRN as LSE Policy Brief

Based on research paper: ‘The TRIPS Intellectual Property Waiver Proposal: Creating the Right Incentives in Patent Law and Politics to end the COVID-19 Pandemic’

Letter text:

The temporary TRIPS waiver[1] – as proposed by India and South Africa and supported by more than 100 countries – is a necessary and proportionate legal measure towards the clearing of existing intellectual property barriers to scaling up of production of COVID-19 health technologies in a direct, consistent and effective fashion. We call on the governments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Norway, Switzerland and the European Union to drop their opposition to the TRIPS Waiver proposal at the World Trade Organisation and to support the waiver.

Intellectual Property (IP) rights – including patents, copyrights, trade secrets and other undisclosed information – are not, and have never been, absolute rights and are granted and recognised under the condition that they serve the public interest. IP rights must not be allowed to stand in the way of measures designed to make accessible the health technologies needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, where universal global access is essential for the global public good. We acknowledge that legal factors beyond IP, such as trade and export restrictions, also shape the ability to produce and access COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. Nonetheless, it is the case that IP rights, and monopolies over tacit and informal information, are also implicated in the current lack of global capacity for vaccine production and other health technologies, as well as in enabling their inequitable distribution.

Current strategies to address the vast inequity in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines have focused on solutions which build on the existing IP system, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) COVAX initiative or voluntary licensing provisions. Such proposals have had limited and insufficient success to date at providing vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. We note that as of June 2021 the voluntary COVAX donation scheme has delivered only 90m out of a promised 2bn doses.[2] Pharmaceutical companies who hold relevant IP rights have also failed to engage with the WHO’s voluntary COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) of IP and know-how.[3] Meanwhile, several solicitations of collaboration to produce vaccine by companies, such as from Teva in Israel, Biolyse in Canada, Bavarian Nordic in Denmark, and Incepta in Bangladesh, have not engendered a positive response from vaccine IP holding companies.[4] Moreover, the shortcomings of vaccine production are not the only problem: distribution of existing vaccine supply has been profoundly unequal, with pre-purchasing and hoarding of doses by several high-income countries. This has underlined the need for globally distributed, local vaccine manufacturing hubs in low and middle-income countries in order to guarantee sustainable supply.[5]

Given the ongoing absence of sufficient voluntary engagement by the pharmaceutical industry with proposed global mechanisms to share IP rights, data and know-how to address the pandemic, the ability to suspend rules under the TRIPS Agreement is crucial to enable a radical increase in manufacturing capacity, and thus supply, of COVID-19 vaccines. This will facilitate a globally coordinated and transparent pathway to achieve global equitable access. The proposed TRIPS waiver would provide more companies with the freedom to operate in order to produce COVID-19 vaccines and other health technologies without the fear of infringing another party’s IP rights and the attendant threat of litigation.

Furthermore, in light of the considerable public financing of COVID-19 vaccine research, development, production and purchase, claims of inviolability of private IP monopoly rights cannot be justified.[6] The IP system has failed in the past to create market incentives for vaccine development – a finding that is acknowledged and analysed by scholars in the field.[7]  In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, such a market failure has been mitigated with unprecedented public funding and de-risking of R&D costs through advance market commitments by governments.[8] These tailored public interventions addressed the pressing need for vaccine development, and in doing so compensated for the failure of IP incentives on their own to promote vaccine research and development.

The TRIPS waiver is necessary at this time because the existing provisions within the TRIPS Agreement are not sufficient in a pandemic context, whereby global access to vaccines produced at speed and scale is in all our interests. For example, compulsory licence provisions under Art. 31 and Art. 31bis of TRIPS are insufficient to tackle already existing and emerging patent thickets and data exclusivity rules that impede production by manufacturers other than the IP rightsholders.[9] Furthermore, compulsory licences do not address the need for technology transfer and the sharing of know-how needed to build local and regional manufacturing capacity. Building such capacity would enable sustainable solutions for this and future pandemics by increasing domestic/regional manufacturing capacity for vaccine production.

Governments must work with IP holders to make available and incentivise the disclosure of information held as trade secrets (and other undisclosed information) on grounds of Art. 73 (b)(iii) TRIPS, as well as through the strengthening of domestic public interest provisions under Art. 39(3) TRIPS. There are precedents for this, including US production of penicillin in WWII in which the US government oversaw the necessary pooling of technology and knowledge by companies and universities to rapidly increase penicillin production. Last year, the US government used the Defense Production Act to prioritise the production of components for national supply as needed to combat COVID-19.[10]

The proposed TRIPS waiver will enable the temporary suspension of the relevant TRIPS rules for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing freedom to operate. It is thus a necessary ingredient as part of a multi-pronged approach to combat the pandemic. This approach must also encompass other steps, including: global co-ordination of supply chains; streamlining regulatory approval processes and sharing exclusive data from regulatory dossiers; and investment in the WHO’s C-TAP and the mRNA technology transfer hub in South Africa.[11] The TRIPS waiver will thus facilitate the technical resilience of lower- and middle-income countries in view of present and future pandemic action and preparedness. This is in line with the commitment in the TRIPS Agreement to balance the rights of IP holders in high-income countries with the promise of technology transfer to lower- and middle-income countries. It is time to fulfil this promise and, in so doing, to end the pandemic.

Signed (in alphabetical order)

1)     Prof Isabella Alexander (Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney, Australia)

2)     Dr Ana Georgina Alba Betancourt (Researcher, Institute of Legal Research, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México – UNAM, Mexico)

3)     Dr Hanan Almawla (Assistant Professor of Intellectual Property Law, University of Bahrain, Bahrain)

4)     Mr Wissam Aoun (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor, Canada)

5)     Dr Adrian Aronsson-Storrier (Associate Professor of Law, University of Reading, UK) 

6)     Prof TT Arvind (Professor of Law, University of York, UK)

7)     Prof Margo Bagley (Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law, USA)

8)     Prof Rosa Maria Ballardini (Professor of Intellectual Property Law, University of Lapland, Finland)

9)     Dr Manuel Becerra Ramirez (Researcher, Institute of Legal Research, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México – UNAM, Mexico)

10)  Prof Jeremy de Beer (Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, Canada)

11)  Dr Jose Bellido (Reader in Law, Kent Law School, University of Kent, UK)

12)  Mr Edwin Bernal Ramirez (Associate Professor, Universidad Militar Nueva Granada, Colombia) 

13)  Prof Mario Biagioli (Professor, School of Law, University of California at Los Angeles, USA)

14)  Prof Michael Birnhack (Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Law, Tel Aviv University, Israel) 

15)  Dr Enrico Bonadio (Reader in Intellectual Property Law, City, University of London, UK)

16)  Dr Catherine Bond (Associate Professor of Law, University of New South Wales, Australia) 

17)  Prof Maurizio Borghi (Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management (CIPPM), Bournemouth University, UK)

18)  Dr Jocelyn Bosse (Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law, University of Reading, UK)

19)  Prof Kathy Bowrey (Professor in the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales, Australia) 

20)  Prof Abbe Brown (Professor of Law, School of Law, University of Aberdeen, UK) 

21)  Prof Robert Burrell (Professor of Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law, University of Oxford, UK, and Professor of Law, University of Melbourne Australia)

22)  Mr Henrique Carvalho (Lecturer in Law, Birkbeck, University of London, UK)

23)  Dr Roberto Caso (Associate Professor of Comparative Private Law, University of Trento, Italy)

24)  Dr Maurice Cassier (Senior Research Fellow, Director of Research, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France)

25)  Prof Margaret Chon (Donald and Lynda Horowitz Professor for the Pursuit of Justice, Seattle University School of Law, USA)

26)  Dr Carys Craig (Associate Professor of Law, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, Canada) 

27)  Dr Giuseppina D’Agostino (Associate Professor of Law, Founder and Director of IP Osgoode, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Canada)

28)  Dr Angela Daly (Reader in Law & Technology, University of Strathclyde, UK)

29)  Dr Matthew David (Associate Professor of Sociology, Durham University, UK)

30)  Prof Dr Estelle Derclaye (Professor of Intellectual Property Law, University of Nottingham, UK) 

31)  Dr Gaetano Dimita (Senior Lecturer in International Intellectual Property Law, Queen Mary University of London, UK)

32)  Prof Peter Drahos (Professor of Law and Governance, European University Institute, Italy)

33)  Dr Rosanna Ducato (Lecturer in IT Law and Regulation, School of Law, University of Aberdeen, UK)

34)  Prof Séverine Dusollier (Professor of Law, Sciences Po, Paris, France)

35)  Prof Graham Dutfield (Professor of International Governance at the School of Law, University of Leeds, UK)

36)  Dr Benjamin Farrand (Reader in Law and Emerging Technologies, Newcastle University, UK)

37)  Mr Sean Michael Fiil-Flynn (Director, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property American University Washington College of Law, USA)

38)  Prof Susy Frankel (Professor, Chair in Intellectual Property and International Trade, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)

39)  Dr Martin Fredriksson (Associate Professor at the Unit for Culture and Society, TemaQ, Linköping University, Sweden)

40)  Prof Gabriel Galvez-Behar (Professor of History, University of Lille, France)

41)  Prof Dev Gangjee (Professor of Intellectual Property Law, University of Oxford, UK)

42)  Prof Susi Geiger (Professor of Marketing and Market Studies, University College Dublin, Ireland) 

43)  Prof Gustavo Ghidini (Professor Emeritus, University of Milan and Senior Professor of Intellectual Property & Competition Law, LUISS University, Rome, Italy)

44)  Prof Shubha Ghosh (Crandall Melvin Professor of Law. Director, Syracuse Intellectual Property Law Institute, College of Law, Syracuse University, USA)

45)  Prof Richard Gold (James McGill Professor, Faculty of Law and Faculty of Medicine, McGill University; Director, Centre for Intellectual Property Policy, Canada)

46)  Ms Carolina Gomez (Researcher Centre for Medicines, Information and Power (Universidad Nacional Colombia, Colombia) 

47)  Prof N S Gopalakrishnan (Honorary Professor, Inter University Centre for IPR Studies, Cochin University of Science and Technology, India)

48)  Dr James Griffin (Associate Professor of Law, School of Law, University of Exeter)

49)  Dr Paolo Guarda (Assistant Professor in Law, University of Trento, Italy)

50)  Dr Olga Gurgula (Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law, Brunel University Law School, UK) 

51)  Prof Michael Handler (Professor of Law, University of New South Wales, Australia) 

52)  Dr Naomi Hawkins (Associate Professor of Law, University of Exeter, UK) 

53)  Prof Robert Howse (Lloyd C. Nelson Professor of International Law, NYU School of Law, USA) 

54)  Prof Dan Hunter (Professor and Dean of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Australia) 

55)  Dr Marta Iljadica (Lecturer in Intellectual Property, University of Glasgow, UK)

56)  Dr Bronwen Jones (Lecturer in Law, Newcastle Law School, Newcastle University, UK)

57)  Dr Hyo Yoon Kang (Reader in Law, Kent Law School, University of Kent, UK)

58)  Dr Bernard Keenan (Lecturer in Law, Birkbeck, University of London, UK) 

59)  Dr Cliona Kelly (Assistant Professor of Law, University College Dublin, Ireland)

60)  Prof Martin Kretschmer (Director, CREATe and Professor of Intellectual Property Law, University of Glasgow, UK)

61)  Dr Guido Noto La Diega (Associate Professor of IP & Privacy Law, University of Stirling, UK)

62)  Prof Graeme Laurie (Professorial Fellow, Edinburgh Law School, University of Edinburgh, UK)

63)  Dr Luo Li (Assistant Professor in Law, Coventry University, UK)

64)  Dr Phoebe Li (Senior Lecturer in Law and Deputy Director Sussex Centre for Information Governance, University of Sussex, UK)

65)  Prof David Lindsay (Professor of Law, Faculty of Law University of Technology Sydney, Australia)

66)  Prof Margaret Llewellyn (Professor of Law, University of Sheffield, UK)

67)  Mr Oscar Andres Lizarazo-Cortes (Associate Professor of Law, Universidad Nacional Colombia, Colombia)

68)  Prof Fiona Macmillan (Professor of Law, Birkbeck, University of London, UK, University of Roma Tre, Italy, University of Technology Sydney, Australia)

69)  Prof Hector MacQueen CBE FBA FRSE (Professor of Private Law, University of Edinburgh, UK)

70)  Dr Danilo Mandic (Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Westminster, UK)

71)  Prof Duncan Matthews (Professor of Intellectual Property Law, Queen Mary University of London, UK)

72)  Dr Luke McDonagh (Assistant Professor of Law, London School of Economics, UK) 

73)  Dr Aisling McMahon (Assistant Professor of Law, Maynooth University, Ireland)

74)  Prof Carlos Melini (Professor of Intellectual Property and Director of Intellectual Property LLM, University of San Carlos, Guatemala)

75)  Prof Dinusha Mendis (Professor of Intellectual Property & Innovation Law, Bournemouth University, UK) 

76)  Dr Marc Mimler (Senior Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law, City, University of London, UK) 

77)  Mr Christopher Morten (Associate Clinical Professor of Law, Columbia Law School, USA)

78)  Prof Caroline B Ncube (SARChI Research Chair in Intellectual Property, Innovation and Development, University of Cape Town, South Africa)

79)  Mr Murali Neelakantan (Principal Lawyer, Amicus; former Global General Counsel, CIPLA, India)

80)  Dr Catherine Ng (Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Aberdeen, UK)

81)  Dr Hernán Núñez Rocha (Researcher in Intellectual Property, University of Alcalá, Spain)

82)  Dr Eoin O’Dell (Associate Professor in Law, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland) 

83)  Prof Chidi Oguamanam (Professor of Law, University of Ottawa, Canada)

84)  Prof Dr Arzu Oğuz (Head of Intellectual Property Department and Director of Intellectual Rights Research and Application Center, Ankara University, Turkey)

85)  Dr Chijioke Okorie (Lecturer, Centre for Intellectual Property Law, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa)

86)  Prof Anne Orford (Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor, Michael D Kirby Professor of International Law, ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellow, University of Melbourne Law School, Australia)

87)  Prof Shobita Parthasarathy (Professor of Public Policy, University of Michigan, USA) 

88)  Dr Mathilde Pavis (Senior Lecturer in Law, School of Law, University of Exeter, UK) 

89)  Prof Adoración Pérez Troya (Professor of Commercial Law, University of Alcalá, Spain)

90)  Dr Tina Piper (Associate Professor of Law, McGill University)

91)  Dr Luis H Porangaba (Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law, University of Glasgow, UK)

92)  Mr Gerard Porter (Lecturer in Medical Law and Ethics, Edinburgh Law School, University of Edinburgh, UK) 

93)  Prof Alain Pottage (Professor of Law, Sciences Po, Paris, France, Professor of Law, University of Kent, UK)

94)  Prof Srividya Ragavan (Professor of Law, Texas A&M School of Law, USA)

95)  Prof Prabhash Ranjan (Incoming Professor and Vice Dean, Jindal Global Law School, O P Jindal Global University, India)

96)  Dr Vicenç Ribas Ferrer (Lecturer in Commercial Law, Universidad de Alcalá, Madrid, Spain)

97)  Prof Marco Ricolfi (Professor of Intellectual Property Law, Department of Jurisprudence, University of Turin, Italy)

98)  Prof Nagla Rizk (Professor of Economics, The American University in Cairo, Egypt)        

99)  Dr Agnès Robin (Maître de Conférences, Université Montpellier, France)

100)    Prof Allan Rocha de Souza (Professor and Researcher, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ), National Institute of Science and Technology (INCT) PROPRIETAS, Brazilian Copyright Institute, Brazil) 

101)    Dr Amanda Scardamaglia (Associate Professor, Swinburne Law School, Australia)

102)    Dr Arul George Scaria (Associate Professor of Law, Co-Director of Centre for Innovation, Intellectual Property and Competition, National Law University, Delhi, India)

103)    Dr Sharifah Sekalala (Associate Professor of Law, School of Law, University of Warwick, UK)

104)    Prof Brad Sherman (Professor of Law, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, University of Queensland, Australia) 

105)    Dr Alison Slade (Lecturer in Law, University of Leicester, UK)

106)    Prof Natalie Stoianoff (Director, Intellectual Property Program, Faculty of Law, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia) 

107)    Prof Mira T. Sundara Rajan (Visiting Professor, UC Davis Law School, USA)

108)    Prof Madhavi Sunder (Professor of Law, Georgetown Law, Georgetown University, USA) 

109)    Prof Uma Suthersanen (Professor of Global Intellectual Property Law, Queen Mary University of London, UK)

110)    Dr Siva Thambisetty (Associate Professor of Intellectual Property Law, London School of Economics, UK)

111)    Prof Dr Paul L.C. Torremans (Professor of Intellectual Property Law, University of Nottingham, UK)

112)    Mr Martin Uribe Arbelaez (Associate Professor of Law, Universidad Nacional Colombia, Colombia)

113)    Dr Florelia Vallejo-Trujillo (Assistant Professor of Law, University of Tolima, Colombia)

114)    Prof Dr Geertrui van Overwalle (Professor of Intellectual Property Law, School of Law, University of Leuven, Belgium) 

115)    Dr Amaka Vanni (Lecturer in Law, School of Law, University of Leeds)

116)    Dr Anjali Vats (Associate Professor of Communication and African and African Diaspora Studies at Boston College; Assistant Professor (by courtesy) at Boston College Law School, USA) 

117)    Prof David Vaver (Emeritus Professor of Intellectual Property & Information Technology Law, University of Oxford, and Professor of Intellectual Property Law, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, Canada)

118)    Prof Yousuf A Vawda (Senior Research Associate, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)

119)    Dr Andrea Wallace (Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Exeter UK)

120)    Dr Karen Walsh (Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law, University of Exeter, UK)

121)    Prof Kimberlee Weatherall (Professor of Law, The University of Sydney Law School, Australia) 

122)    Dr Genevieve Wilkinson (Lecturer, Faculty of Law University of Technology Sydney, Australia)

123)    Dr Evana Wright (Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law University of Technology Sydney, Australia)

124)    Dr Chen Zhu (Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Birmingham, UK)

(Up to date: 9 July 2021. After this date, new signatories will be added in order of their signature.)


125)  Dr Alison Slade (Lecturer in Law, University of Leicester, UK)

126) Prof Matthew Rimmer (Professor in Intellectual Property and Innovation Law, Faculty of Business and Law, Queensland University of Technology, Australia)

127) Dr Jérôme Baudry (Assistant Professor of History of Science and Technology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland)

128)  Dr German Dario Florez Acero (Director of the LLM in Legal Technology and Innovation, Universidad Sergio Arboleda, Colombia)

129) Dr Antonio Malo Larrea (Institut de Ciència I Tecnologia Ambientals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain)

130) Ms Karín Jaramillo Ochoa (Legal Advisor and Researcher, Ecuadorian Municipalities Association, Ecuador)

131) Ms Andrea Mena Sanchez (Abogada en Propiedad Intelectual, Ecuador)

132) Mr Ricardo Sebastián Escobar (Grupo Tradibet, Ecuador; LLM, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain)

133) Mr Bartolomeo Meletti (Creative Director, CREATe, University of Glasgow, UK)

134) Prof Fabricio Monteriro Neves (Professor Adjunct, University of Brasilia, Brazil; Postdoctoral researcher, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy)

135) Dr Sabine Jacques (Associate Professor, School of Law, University of East Anglia, UK)

136) Prof Alexis Mercado Suarez (Professor, Centro de Estudios del Desarrollo, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Venezuela)

137) Dr Melanie Stockton-Brown (Lecturer in Law, Bournemouth University, UK)

138) Ms Luminita Olteanu (Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law, Kent Law School, UK)

139) Dr V. K. Unni (Professor of Law, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, India)

140) Prof Carlos Velásquez-Villada (Professor, Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia, Colombia)

141) Dr Abdumumin Yuldashov (Acting Associate Professor, Tashkent State University of Law, Uzbekistan)

142) Prof Dr Carlos Portugal Gouvêa (Professor of Law, University of São Paulo and Coordinator of the Law and Poverty Research Group USP, Brazil)

143) Dr Elena Loizidou (Reader in Law and Political Theory, School of Law, Birkbeck University of London, UK)

144) Ms Jade Kouletakis (Lecturer in Law, Abertay University, UK)      

145) Mr Abhilash Nair (Senior Lecturer in Internet Law, Aston University, UK)

146) Dr Megan Rae Blakely (Lecturer in Law, Lancaster University Law School, UK)

147) Dr Ruth Flaherty (Lecturer in Law, University of Suffolk, UK)

148) Ms Judith Rauhofer (Senior Lecturer in IT Law, University of Edinburgh, UK)

149) Dr Subhajit Basu (Associate Professor in Information Technology Law, University of Leeds, UK)

150) Ms Nivedita Saksena (Fellow, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University, USA)

151) Prof Dr Ida Madieha bt. Abdul Ghani Azmi (Professor, International Islamic University Malaysia, Malaysia)

152) Assoc Prof Rohazar Wati Zuallcobley (Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, MARA University of Technology, Malaysia)

153) Dr Farizah Mohamed Isa (Faculty of Law, MARA University of Technology, Malaysia)

154) Assoc Prof Dr Haswira Nor Mohamad Hashim (Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia)

155) Muhamad Helmi Muhamad Khair (Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia)

156) Dr Ummi Hani Binti Masood (Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia)

157) Dr Tesh W. Dagne (Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Thompson Rivers University, Canada)

158) Dr Bela Bonita Chatterjee (Senior Lecturer in Law, Lancaster University, UK)

159) Mr Thorsten Lauterbach (Teaching Excellence Fellow, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)

160) Prof Bill Bowring (Professor of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK)

161) Dr Richard Joyce (Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Monash University, Australia)

162) Dr Andrea Zappalaglio (Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law, University of Sheffield, UK; Affiliated Researcher and Project Leader, Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Germany)

163) Dr Andrea Roventini (Professor of Economics, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy)

164) Prof Dr Teh Lay Kek (Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia)

165) Dr Hiroko Onishi (Senior Lecturer in Law, Kingston University, UK)

166) Dr Berris Charnley (Visiting Research Fellow, University of Leeds, UK)

167) Prof Renata Salecl (Professor of Psychology, Psychoanalysis and Law, School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK)

168) Prof Enrico Nardelli (Full professor of Informatics, Mathematics Department, Università di Roma “Tor Vergata”, Italy)

169) Ms Paramita DasGupta (Faculty of Law, National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, India)

170) Dr Cesar Ramirez-Montes (Intellectual Property Lecturer, University of Leeds, UK)

171) Prof Ugo Pagano (Professor of Economic Policy, Università di Siena, Italy)

172) Dr Eduardo Arenas Catalán (Assistant Professor in International Law, Open University, Netherlands)

173) Mr Mohd Nur Fakhruzzaman (Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia)

174) Dr Esther Erlings (Lecturer in Law, Flinders University, Australia)

175) Prof Munir Maniruzzaman (Professor of International and Business Law, University of Portsmouth, UK)

176) Prof Andreas Panagopoulos (Head of Tech-Transfer Office, Economics Department, University of Crete, Greece)

177) Dr Stathis Arapostathis (Associate Professor of History of Science and Technology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece)

178) Dr Olivia Hamlyn (Lecturer in Law, Birkbeck, University of London, UK)

179) Dr François Xavier Kalinda (Senior Lecturer of Intellectual Property School of Law, University of Rwanda, Rwanda)

180) Dr Aysem Diker Vanberg (Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Greenwich, UK)

181) Ms Labila Sumayah Musoke (Program Officer on the Right to Health, Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), Uganda)

182) Prof Maricel V. Elorde (Assistant Professor, PRT, EnP-Palawan State University, Palawan, Philippines)

183) Dr Oishik Sircar (Professor, Jindal Global Law School, India)

184) Muhammad Zaheer Abbas (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Faculty of Business and Law, Queensland University of Technology, Australia)

185) Dr Hafiz Aziz ur Rehman (Department of Law, International Islamic University Islamabad, Pakistan)

186) Dr Dalindyebo Shabalala (Associate Professor, University of Dayton School of Law, USA)

187) Mr Akshat Agrawal (Independent Scholar, India)

Disclaimer: 

The signatories’ support is personal and does not necessarily represent the view of any institution with which a signatory is associated.


Endnotes

[1] Waiver from Certain Provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the Prevention, Containment and Treatment of Covid-19. Communication from India and South Africa (2 Oct 2020) IP/C/W/669 <https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/SS/directdoc.aspx?filename=q:/IP/C/W669.pdf&Open=True>  (accessed 14 May 2021). See also revised TRIPS waiver text of 21 May 2021 at <https://www.keionline.org/wp-content/uploads/W669Rev1.pdf>.

[2] The WHO COVAX scheme has fallen drastically short of its initial aim to provide 2 billion doses. See details at <https://www.who.int/news/item/27-05-2021-covax-joint-statement-call-to-action-to-equip-covax-to-deliver-2-billion-doses-in-2021>

[3] The WHO’s proposed COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) C-TAP is aimed at increasing the production of COVID-19 vaccines and other health-technologies globally whilst compensating the IP right holder. C-TAP has attracted no IP-rightsholder engagement to date since its launch in May 2020. See details at <https://www.who.int/initiatives/covid-19-technology-access-pool>

[4] S Thambisetty, A McMahon, L McDonagh, HY Kang and G Dutfield, ‘The TRIPS Intellectual Property Waiver Proposal: Creating the Right Incentives in Patent Law and Politics to end the COVID-19 Pandemic’ LSE Legal Studies Working Paper 6/21 (2021) – <https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3851737>

[5] The WHO recently announced a new mRNA hub in South Africa but as yet no pharma companies have agreed to take part – <https://www.who.int/news/item/21-06-2021-who-supporting-south-african-consortium-to-establish-first-covid-mrna-vaccine-technology-transfer-hub>

[6] ‘Global Health Centre COVID-19 Vaccines R&D Investments’ Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (21 May 2021) <knowledgeportalia.org/covid19-r-d-funding>

[7] S Chandrasekharan, T Amin, J Kim, E Furrer, A-C Matterson, N Schwalbe and A Nguyen, ‘Intellectual property rights and challenges for development of affordable human papillomavirus, rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines: Patent landscaping and perspectives of developing country vaccine manufacturers’ 33 Vaccine (2015) 6366; J Lezaun and CM Montgomery, ‘The Pharmaceutical Commons: Sharing and Exclusion in Global Health Drug Development’ 40 Science, Technology, & Human Values (2015) 3 doi:<10.1177/0162243914542349>.

[8] For example, on the public funding of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, see S Cross, Y Rho, H Reddy, T Pepperrell, F Rodgers, R Osborne, A Eni-Olotu, R Banerjee, S Wimmer and S Keestra, ‘Who funded the research behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine? Approximating the funding to the University of Oxford for the research and development of the ChAdOx vaccine technology’ medRxiv (2021) preprint doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.04.08.21255103 – this version posted 10 April 2021. NB: ChAdOx refers to the specific viral vector technology developed at Oxford.

[9] See VaxPal, COVID-19 vaccines patent landscape. Available at <https://medicinespatentpool.org/what-we-do/disease-areas/vaxpal/>. For analyses of existing patents and license agreements on mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, see C Martin and D Lowery, ‘mRNA vaccines: Intellectual Property Landscape’ 19 Nature Reviews Drug Discovery (2020) 578 and M Gaviria and B Kilic, ‘A network analysis of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine patents’ 39 Nature Biotechnology (2021) 546.

[10] S Thambisetty, A McMahon, L McDonagh, HY Kang and G Dutfield, ‘The TRIPS Intellectual Property Waiver Proposal: Creating the Right Incentives in Patent Law and Politics to end the COVID-19 Pandemic’ LSE Legal Studies Working Paper 6/21 (2021) – <https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3851737>

[11] The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, Access to Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics: Background Paper 5 (May 2021) 1–7 <https://theindependentpanel.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Background-paper-5-Access-to-vaccines-Therapeutics-and-Diagnostics.pdf>

Upcoming Talks and Events in June & July 2021


June

14 June

Engineering Vaccine Equity Workshop
University College London and King’s College London

Co-convened by Andrew Barry & Paige Patchin (Anthropocene/Sarah Parker Remond Centre/Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL) and Nele Jensen & Ann H. Kelly (Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, KCL)

15 June

Open Public Event: Roundtable on Engineering Vaccine Equity and the Future of Global Health Innovation
UCL Anthropocene

What changes need to happen both to reduce the threat of pandemics on a similar scale, and to address the problem of vaccine equity?

Roundtable: Gustavo Matta (Fiocruz), Priti Patnaik (Geneva Health Files), Penny Carmichael (UCL), Hyo Yoon Kang (University of Kent), Andrew Barry (UCL) and Paige Patchin (UCL)


16 June

Open Public Event: Law On Trial – Pharmaceutical Patents And Pandemics: Public Health And Private Wealth?
Birkbeck, University of London

16 June 2021, 18:00 — 19:00


July


1 July 2021
5pm – 6:30pm GMT

A Panel Discussion on The State of Intellectual Property Law Scholarship and Pedagogy in Times of Covid-19 Pandemic.

Hosted by Center for Social Critiques of Law, Kent Law School, University of Kent

More details TBA



Passed

9 June 2021

Amnesty International Passau: ‘Patents on Covid-19 Vaccines: A need for state intervention?’

IP, vaccine nationalism in Covid-19 pandemic: short writing, pod, interview

I have been following issues relating to intellectual property in this pandemic closely since the proposal by Costa Rica to pledge sharing all Covid-19 related knowledge and IP in March 2020. This was the seed for the later C-TAP facility hosted by the WHO in May. This prescient Costa Rica intiative was sidelined by COVAX and other bilateral deal makings by individual governments. In September 2020, India and South Africa proposed a waiver on IP, incl. trade secrets, on medicines and technologies against Covid-19, for the duration of the pandemic. After over a year since the start of this global pandemic, the TRIPS waiver is still being discussed and resisted by a handful of countries and their pharmaceutical lobbies, although much of public opinion has moved. After the initial PPE shortage, there has been constant stream of news about vaccines, bilateral deals, vaccine shortage, production problem, export restrictions and the resistance to scale-up production.

Throughout this pandemic time, it has been challenging to engage in research as if nothing had happened and as if we were thinking and writing like in pre-pandemic times. Maybe it will be possible to have more distance to the sheer amount of dead and suffering when the pandemic is over, and make better sense of the past year. At the moment, I don’t have much appetite to engage in a second-order observation of an evolving situation. There are still battles ongoing about who gets to live or die, or who doesn’t count because of their statistical improbability or the social and geographical location they happen to live in and are bound by. If there is one early diagnosis and intervention that I can underwrite is that designed global structural inequities are manifesting their lethal force in the number of infections and dead, both endonationally as well as internationally.

The little contribution that I can make at this point is to offer partial perspectives on the evolving situation against the background of patent law history and theory, as well as history of sciences and STS. I hope that they may be interesting to the general public who wonder why the global intellectual property law works in the way it does and why universities engage in patenting and spin-offs.

In February, I wrote a long-form article of how intellectual property law enables vaccine nationalism for Critical Legal Thinking Blog.

In March, I had the pleasure to talk with Matthew Dagher-Margosian for The Art of Travel, a podcast with an internationalist outlook, for a pod on IP Law, monopolies and why we still don’t have a Peoples’ Vaccine .

This month, April, Geneva Health Files’s Priti Patnaik interviewed me about the financialisation of IP, the politics of intellectual property law and the TRIPS waiver for medicines and technologies against the Covid-19. You can find the interview here.

In May, I will be in conversation with the historian of science and legal scholar, Mario Biagioli, and anthropologist and STS scholar, Javier Lezaun, to discuss patent capital(ism) and the Covid-19 pandemic in relation to notions of private/public dichotomy, patent justifications and the idea of the commons. You can register for it here.

The need for a concerted action on TRIPS waiver, lifting export restrictions and the sharing of know-how for increased vaccine production has never been greater.

Patents as Capital in the Covid-19 Pandemic

May 4 BST 10am/CET 11am/Pacific 2am/EST 5am/ AEST 7pm

‘Patent Capital in the Covid-19 Pandemic’, Hyo Yoon Kang (Kent) in conversation with Mario Biagioli (UCLA) and Javier Lezaun (Oxford)

In the present pandemic, there has been increased public interest and media reporting on intellectual property, in particular patents and know-how, in relation to the vaccine and other medicines against Covid-19. The WTO is still considering the proposed waiver of TRIPS related enforcement of intellectual property rights in Covid-19 medicines. Such an interest in the purpose and effects of patent rights has also been accompanied by some misunderstandings and misleading polemics.

Drawing on her recent writing about ‘Patent Capital in the Covid-19 Pandemic’ as a starting point, Hyo Yoon Kang will be in conversation with Mario Biagioli and Javier Lezaun. In light of the current extraordinary mobilisation of scientific, technical and financial resources, the panel will discuss the justification for patents and the notions of commons and publics, and consider them within the interdisciplinary intellectual property, science and technology studies scholarships.

Hyo Yoon Kang is Reader in Law at University of Kent. She leads Kent Law School as a project partner in the ERC PASSIM project.

Mario Biagioli is Distinguished Professor of Law and Communication at the University of California at Los Angeles. He is a member of the ISHTIP Advisory Board.

Javier Lezaun is Associate Professor in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and Director of the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (InSIS) at the University of Oxford.

To join this discussion: please register at : https://kent-ac-uk.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0lfuquqzksGtaKyphz9JK5z-sVY4I1LyBr

Patents as Capital (CfP)

I am  coorganising  workshop on the theme of ‘patents as capital’ at the Nobel Museum as part of the PASSIM project together with Bjorn Hammarfelt and Gustav Kaellstrand. The call for paper is below and it closes on 14 February 2020. Capital is conceived in a broad way: not only economic and finacial, but also in cultural and scientific senses.  It should be an intensive working group meeting in an inspiring setting. Please contact me if you have any questions.CfP PASSIM patents as capital workshop

Listening in the carbon majors inquiry hearings

Today was the last day of the hearings of the Philippine Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into the responsibility of major carbon emitting companies for human rights violations in response to a petition filed by a group of Filipino citizens and civil rights organizations.

I was sitting in the hearings yesterday and today in the LSE moot court room, which was packed to the brim. My interest was mainly in law-science transposition, particularly in arguments about scientific attribution and legal causation in the framework of ‘scales’, which was the topic of an earlier workshop that I had organised: since the publication of Richard Heede’s 2014 report about tracing back anthropogenic carbondioxide and methane emission to major carbon producing companies, there have been attempts to link questions of legal accountability to such attribution of emission through litigation.  Interestingly, as Dr Myles Allen, the co-author of the 2018 IPCC Report of 1.5 degrees, has also noted today, there has been no dispute about the scientific validity and truth value of ‘science’. ‘Science’ and its methodology was left very much untested or unopened by the Commission.

The expert and witness opinions also made me think of the heterogenous elements which materialise ‘law’: location of the hearings (New York, London, and live streamed archived in the www); technologies of bringing the matter together; issues of law’s mobility, mobilisation of networks; the discursive construction of legal matters, which have the ability to materialise something which is not visible, such as global warming; the difficulty of establishing a legal matter despite real, physical, material harm as told in the powerful testimonies of typhoon survivors. There were also simultaneous fluidity and disclaimer brackets between disciplinary expertise.

Concise info and timeline of this ‘law in the making’ is here: http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/news/the-carbon-majors-inquiry-comes-to-london/

Currently reading and writing…

… for a new piece on a non-patent and non-science (although different media formats remain important) topic which I had been fascinated by five years ago until the uni workload took over and I could not continue. This time I will finish it. The paper proposal was selected for inclusion to be discussed at the ISHTIP in Rome in July, so having a deadline helps. It is going to analyse compositional practices in (classical) music and argue for an understanding of creativity as a homage and malleable, inverted tradition. I came to this topic by being introduced to Richard Beaudoin, a composer, through Alain Pottage back then. Richard composes music as beautiful as it is intellectually intricate and technologically multi-layered and sophisticated.  Meeting over a coffee and talking about copyright and music, I was struck when he said that when he was composing his Microtiming pieces, he was paying homage to past composers (e.g. Debussy) and great performers (Argerich). Inspired by Richard’s rich yet delicate compositions and the baroque inversions and references in Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia, I will explore the notions of homage, indebtedness, tradition and inheritance in relation to property.  It makes me very happy to reconnect to my old me and musical life, which I had not been able to somehow integrate into my academic work. Reading and thinking about scores and words at the same time, and listening: an analytical and emotional homecoming.

ASLCH 2018 Programme at Georgetown Law is available now

I am serving as the chair of this year’s programme committee of the Association of Law,Culture and Humanities Annual Meeting at Georgetown Law in March 2018. Doing the programming was a labour of patience and perseverance which I could not have done without my colleague, Connal Parsley, who is serving with me on this year’s LCH annual meeting programme committee and his wonderful partner, Rossella Buono, who hosted and fed me on the dark winter night whilst we were waging through piles of paper. Reading through the rich variety of paper and panel submissions, thinking of their fit, and devising panel names were the most rewarding parts of the task.  Clicking, copy and pasting data from google mail into word and spreadsheet – probably involving thousand clicks  – were less fun. Solving the puzzle of equating two digit number restraints and conditions for timetabling was a challenge I enjoyed. But after this experience, in which I learned how much it actually takes to organise such a large-scale event, it made me appreciate and be really really grateful for all the hard work of many people behind the scene for making such big meetings happen and make it look so facile.

Here is version 2.0 of the draft programme.

And many of us from the Legal Materiality research network will be there, talking about our work.

ERC PASSIM Patents as Scientific Information Project kicks off

I am looking out to beautiful snowy landscape and roofs in Norrkoeping  hosted by the formidable Eva Hemmungs Wirten of Linkoeping University, kicking off the ERC PASSIM ‘Patents as Scientific Information’ Advanced Grant Project (website: passim.se  – scheduled to go live very soon).

We are here for three days discussing our individual projects, the overall direction and events for the next five years, and all the number of questions and issues that arise in the context of running a large scale project such as this one.

There will be nine projects as part of PASSIM: overall PI’s Eva Hemmungs Wirten’s lead project on ‘Patent Trails: The Law and Order of Information’; my colleague at Kent Law School and copyright afficianado, Jose Bellido‘s project on ‘Copyright in Patents’; Bjoern Hammarfelt‘s (Boras University) ‘Patents and the Invention of Scientific Citations,’ a study of the knowledge relationship between information science and patents; and the Nobel Museum’s Gustav Kallstrom‘s project on Patents and the Nobel Prize.
At our ‘home base’, Linkoeping University Norrkoeping Campus, Johanna Dahlin‘s examination of ‘Soviet patents and Secrecy’ and Martin Fredriksson‘s project on ‘Patents as Global (In)Justice’, Mattis Karlsson, a PhD student at Linkoeping University’s  Department for Studies of Social Change and Culture, as well as the recruitment of a new PhD student, complete our team.

The open welcome, style of consultation and hospitality by our Swedish team members have been striking, it is such a privilege and pleasure to be here.