Prof. Sean Flynn Quoted in Law360 Story on the Proposed TRIPS Waiver
October 5, 2021
PIJIP Director Sean Flynn was recently quoted in a Law360 story on a civil society letter to President Biden regarding the proposed TRIPS waiver under debate at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The TRIPS wavier would suspend certain WTO obligations to protect intellectual property in situations where they are hampering the fight against Covid-19. It was originally proposed by South Africa and India. The TRIPS waiver now has the support of a majority of WTO Members, but Members have different opinions over how broad or narrow it should be.
The letter, endorsed by PIJIP as well as 11 civil soceity groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Wikimedia Foundation, argues that the scope of rights covered by the wavier should include "all intellectual property rights" - including copyright.
Copyright protects a range of information products needed to fight COVID-19. It protects computational algorythms used in the manufacture mRNA vaccines. It covers health information on product labels (and has been used in the past to block distribution of generic medicines). It covers software used in numerous healthcare devices including ventilators.
In the Law360 story, Flynn notes: "If [the waiver] was expanded to devices, then it could lead to more manufacturing of ventilators in more countries and that would be positive for the global supply, because ventilators are probably easier to make than mRNA vaccines," Flynn said. "We should certainly be maximizing the production of things that are easiest to make in other countries."