Patents on Covid Vaccines: the Plot Thickens

Last Friday I spoke at an interesting event, dedicated to lessons learned during the pandemic, sponsored by the association Women&Tech.

My plan was to illustrate the international aspects of intellectual property and, in particular, the possibilities afforded by article 31 of the TRIPS agreement to obtain a license to use vaccines’ patents without consent of the patent holder. There had also been a proposal by India and South Africa to waive IP rights on vaccines altogether, but it had been rejected. The discussion seemed largely theoretical.

Only a few hours before the event, the scenario completely changed when the US announced that it was backing the idea of a waiver of IP rights on Covid vaccines’ patents. Reactions by EU leaders were varied, and it is still unclear if the waiver proposal will receive the required three fourths of the votes at the WTO level.

You may find my slides (in Italian) below, but in my view the clearest explanation of the issues at stake is in the position paper by the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, which can be found here.

About Paola Sangiovanni

Partner of GITTI and Partners. Seasoned transactional and regulatory legal counsel with a thorough understanding of the life sciences industry.

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