The TRIPS Council of the World Trade Organization will discuss a revised proposal submitted by 62 co-sponsors, including India, South Africa, and Indonesia, seeking patent waivers to manufacture COVID-19-related medical products. In October 2020, India and South Africa had submitted the first proposal suggesting a waiver for all World Trade Organization (WTO) members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.

What

  1. The agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS came into effect in January 1995.
  2. It is a multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP) rights such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.
  3. According to the revised proposal, the waiver should be in force for at least three years from the date of the decision on the matter.
  4. The co-sponsors have stated that the duration has to be practical for manufacturing to be feasible and viable. The revised proposal will now be discussed in the TRIPS Council.
  5. The co-sponsors have stressed that the proposed waiver is limited in scope to COVID-19 prevention, treatment and containment.
  6. The international community is dealing with a novel pathogen, with many uncertainties.

CLEAR WAIVER

  1. 62 WTO members propose 3-yr waiver from IPRs to fight pandemic
  2. India, S Africa, Kenya, Maldives, Venezuela suggest waiver’s annual review
  3. Revised proposal may be taken up in the WTO on 31 May 2021.
  4. Waiver sought for health products & technologies
  5. New draft retains waiver for vax, diagnostics, PPE, therapeutics, med devices
  6. Raw materials, components, methods & means of manufacture also included
  7. Experts caution on reducing 3-yr period, narrowing scope to vax only
  8. IPR waiver standalone issue, not linked with other WTO issues, warn experts