Waiver of intellectual property rights due to COVID-19
In March, 2021, more than 250 organizations from all around the world, including the IPI, called on all WTO members to waive certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), including copyright provisions, to more effectively prevent, contain and treat COVID-19. Calls for the suspension of certain TRIPS provisions due to COVID-19 have been successful. The US was the first to take an important step. When will the EU act properly?
The Statement on Copyright and Proposal of a Waiver from Certain Provisions of the Trade- Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement for the Prevention, Containment and Treatment of COVID-19 calls for the waiver of certain provisions of TRIPS, to ensure that governments can issue orders, accept interpretations of their legislation, and amend and otherwise overcome copyright barriers to access the knowledge needed to tackle a pandemic.
The Statement called for urgent action to clarify that all copyright and related rights agreements must be interpreted and implemented in a way that respects human rights during a pandemic and other emergencies, and that governments should be allowed to protect and promote vital public interests during health or other emergencies and that they should be able to appropriately extend appropriate restrictions and exemptions to the digital environment during health or other emergencies.
The US has already responded positively. Katherine Tai, a representative for the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, made a statement, announcing the Biden-Harris administration’s support for the waiver of intellectual property protection for COVID-19 vaccines. This is a great step in the right direction, towards greater solidarity in removing barriers to the prevention, restriction and treatment of COVID-19. At this point, however, it remains unclear whether the US government also had in mind the waiver of copyright protection, or simply the waiver of the protection of industrial property rights. The European Union should also follow this important step.
The 43rd session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (hereinafter SCCR) made substantial progress on the issues advocated by the A2K Coalition (Access to Knowledge Coalition), which IPI is a member of. This year’s session was the most productive on the issues of exceptions and limitations. James Love (Knowledge Ecology International), a long-time observer at WIPO, described the outcome and the impact of the public interest community as the strongest since the conclusion of the Marrakech Treaty, which brought global copyright exceptions for the benefit of the blind and visually impaired.
Today, March 17, 2023, a symposium on law in the information society is taking place in the golden lecture hall of the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana. Dr. Maja Bogataj Jančič will present copyright aspects of artificial intelligence at the symposium.
The third day of the 43rd session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights is intended for discussion on the topic of exceptions and limitations to copyright, especially in connection with the right to research.
The 43rd session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR/43) is being held in Geneva from March 13 to 17, 2023. The Intellectual Property Institute has a permanent observer status at WIPO since 2022 and is also a member of the Access to Knowledge Coalition (A2K coalition).