Europe hints at patent grab from Big Pharma – POLITICO

“Ever so softly, European politicians are beginning to voice a once unthinkable threat by suggesting they could snatch patents from drug companies to make up for massive shortfalls in the supply of coronavirus vaccines.

Big Pharma businesses have for many years regarded EU countries as unquestioningly loyal allies over intellectual property rights in the international trade arena. The EU could always be relied upon to defend U.S., Japanese and European drugmakers from poor nations in Africa and South Asia that have long wanted the recipe of critical medicines to be handed over to generic manufacturers.

But fury over the inability of companies to deliver on contracts amid the COVID-19 pandemic means that now even European politicians, from the Italian parliament to German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, are arguing, albeit cautiously, that patents may no longer be as sacrosanct as they once were….”

Opinion | Want Vaccines Fast? Suspend Intellectual Property Rights – The New York Times

“There aren’t enough vaccines to go around in the richest countries on earth, let alone the poorest ones.

That’s why it makes little sense that the United States, Britain and the European Union, among others, are blocking a proposal at the World Trade Organization that would allow them, and the rest of the world, to get more of the vaccines and treatments we all need.

The proposal, put forward by India and South Africa in October, calls on the W.T.O. to exempt member countries from enforcing some patents, trade secrets or pharmaceutical monopolies under the organization’s agreement on trade-related intellectual property rights, known as TRIPs….”

Copyright and protection of scientific results: the experience of Russia, the United States and the countries of the Near East

Abstract. In this article, the authors analyze the legal regulation of the copyright protection of the results of scientific activity in Russia, the United States and the countries of the Near East. Considerable attention is paid to the review of key regulatory acts of the states operating in the designated area, as well as international treaties affecting aspects of the copyright protection of intellectual rights in the field of science. The authors consider the main ways of protecting the scientific results by means of copyright. Special attention is paid to the analysis of the judicial practice of the states, which plays a vital role in defining approaches to the legal regulation of the scientific results. The authors emphasized the similarity and difference between the systems of copyright protection of the results of scientific activity, the role of the judiciary in the functioning of such systems. In the end the conclusion is made about the prospects for harmonization of the approaches to the legal regulation of the results of scientific activity by means of copyright. The article will be relevant to practicing lawyers, researchers, students and everyone who is interested in IP law. 

Native American Treaties Now Online for the First Time | National Archives

“Hundreds of Native American treaties have been scanned and are freely available online, for the first time, through the National Archives Catalog. Also, in partnership with The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC), these treaties and extensive additional historical and contextual information are available through Treaties Explorer  (or DigiTreaties). …”

The Marrakesh Treaty: challenging GLAMs to generate readable documents for people with disabilities | by Virginia Inés Simón | Open GLAM | Sep, 2020 | Medium

“The Marrakesh Treaty is an international treaty that seeks to facilitate access to published works for people who are blind, visually impaired or have other difficulties in accessing printed text. It is the first international copyright treaty that focuses on users of intellectual works and not exclusively on authors. It was adopted on June 27, 2013 in Morocco and its main objective is to guide countries in the creation of copyright flexibilities for the benefit of people with disabilities and difficulty in conventional reading. This article explores the impact of the Marrakesh Treaty and considers how to expand its benefits….”

Countries Are Adapting Intellectual Property Laws to Prioritise Health During COVID-19

“Intellectual property (IP) rights can potentially impede mass production of existing health products, as well as innovation and research and development of new products. IP rights can be exercised by their owners to grant or withhold from licensing the technology required for manufacturing or further developing a product. If a license is denied, the technology will not be available for other firms to manufacture or supply.

Usually, a bundle of several IP rights can exist around a particular technology. It is very common patenting strategy in the pharmaceutical industry to take separate patents on the main compound of a drug and a large number of secondary patents on different formulations and combinations, dosage, as well as other possible therapeutic use of a drug. This can make it difficult for follow on innovators to invent around the thicket of IP rights….

Through a resolution of the World Health Assembly on COVID-19, member states of the WHO have recognised the possible need for countries to adopt measures to ensure that IP rights do not constrain global equitable access to health technologies for COVID-19 through the full use of the flexibilities of the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) as well as voluntary pooling of patented technologies, data and know-how….

A number of flexibilities available under the TRIPS Agreement can be applied by governments to ensure that IP rights do not constrain innovation and availability of health technologies required for responding to COVID-19….

It is time for developing countries to review the extent to which such measures can be adopted, or what changes, if any, need to be introduced into their legal regimes so as to be able to act effectively and timely to address the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic….”

The Rebirth of Copyright As an Opt-In System? – The Media Institute

“For most of the history of Anglo-American copyright law, copyright was an opt-in system: Authors had to jump through certain regulatory hoops if they wanted to prevent others from copying their works without consent.  These threshold formalities included registering their works with a government agency, affixing a notice to published copies, depositing exemplars with a centralized library, and more.  A failure to comply with the requirements usually meant a diminution in the authors’ copyright entitlement – and in some cases a wholesale forfeiture, under which the works would pass immediately into the public domain.

After some 200 years, however, U.S. copyright abandoned its formal requirements.  Beginning in 1976 and culminating in 1989, Congress responded to complaints from authors (who had sometimes lost protection due to what they viewed as a technicality) and to pressure to join the international copyright community (which forbade most formalities).  Copyright law accordingly underwent a conversion from opt-in to opt-out.

As a result, copyright protection now arises by operation of law, without any action by the author.  As long as a work contains a modicum of originality and is fixed in some tangible form, copyright automatically protects it, and authors must affirmatively disclaim the entitlement if they don’t want its protection.  And these threshold requirements of originality and fixation are incredibly minimal, such that every reader of this essay is probably the owner of hundreds, and quite possibly thousands, of copyrights – in everything from diary entries to doodles….

Of course, any opt-in proposal would face a number of political obstacles, including the fact that predicating copyright protection on any formality (at least for foreign works) is inconsistent with the international copyright conventions to which the United States is a party.  But the Internet does not stop at the border; if opt-in makes sense here, it will make sense abroad as well.  When the United States and its trade partners are done figuring out what to do with Google Books, then, they should consider a return to copyright’s roots.  Make copyright opt-in once more….”

Jonathan Band and Sean Flynn, SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS A TREATY ON COPYRIGHT EXCEPTIONS AND LIMITATIONS FOR EDUCATIONAL AND RESEARCH ACTIVITIES (TERA)

“The disparity in exceptions between countries creates barriers to cross-border sharing of educational and research materials. A compilation or reading or research materials that is lawfully produced in one country may not be lawfully consumed in another because of the different exceptions environments. This fact creates a particular barrier for the international dissemination of open educational resources. Open educational resources are created with the intention of allowing free use and adaptation by users, which makes them a perfect way to facilitate harmonization of educational standards while permitting tailoring to local language, culture and context. But open educational resources rely on copyright exceptions for the quotation or other use of copyrighted works within them and thus can face copyright problems when shared between jurisdictions….”

Communia endorses Treaty on Education and Research, and asks others to follow suit – International Communia Association

“Communia has endorsed the Civil Society Proposed Treaty on Copyright Exceptions and Limitations on Education and Research Activities (TERA), and asks others to follow suit, ahead of the 37th session of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR). SCCR/37 will take place from 26 – 30 November in Geneva, and civil society advocates will propose that the treaty’s provisions be considered as a model for future text-based work by the committee.

The proposed treaty is the result of an extensive consultation process with various stakeholders (including Communia), which culminated with its adoption at the 5th Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest on September 27, 2018. Institutions and individuals are both welcome to endorse the treaty….”