TRIPS

Trade secrecy and COVID-19

In this working paper, Innovation Council’s Mark Schultz and his colleagues analyse how trade secrets and other IPRs underpin innovation and manufacturing of Covid-19 Vaccines. They document that innovators already are sharing secrets and know-how widely with dozens of partners across the world to produce vaccine and therapeutic doses as quickly as possible. In several instances, they are working closely with their biggest competitors, thanks to the security provided by trade secrecy and other IP laws.

The authors conclude that forcing the disclosure of trade secrets would get in the way of manufacturing badly needed doses of Covid-19 vaccines by undermining voluntary arrangements and diverting resources from where they are needed most.

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Trade restrictions are delaying the COVID response. The WTO must act

Together with Thaddeus Burns, Innovation Council member Merck LF, Jennifer Brant has co-authored a paper on the delay in the COVID response caused by trade restrictions and explains why the WTO must act. The human costs of the pandemic, already dire, continue to mount. Vaccines against COVID have been developed at an unprecedented pace through a series of unprecedented partnerships. But this is not the end of the story; there is still an urgent need to expand vaccine protection worldwide, including through the expansion of biologic drug production capacity.

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Panelists Discuss Why Patent Waiver Would Not Accelerate Global Vaccine Distribution

At a panel held in June by The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), two vaccine scientists, Professor Robin Shattock (Imperial College, London) and Dr. Anne Moore (University College Cork) discussed their thoughts on why a patent waiver related to COVID-19 vaccines would not speed up vaccine distribution in lower income countries.

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The Big Secret Behind the Proposed TRIPS Waiver

James Pooley, former Deputy Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), describes in this article how TRIPS only creates obligations for governments to pass laws supporting intellectual property rights of certain kinds: patents, copyrights, designs, trademarks, and trade secrets. Importantly, it doesn’t affect the private ownership of those rights. This is an important distinction, especially for trade secrets (or “undisclosed information” as they are called in TRIPS), because, unlike the other “registered” rights, they don’t depend for their existence on government certification. Rather, trade secrets only require a legal system that enforces confidentiality.  Furthermore, although patents usually steal the limelight in conversations about “technology transfer,” the truth is that they are only a part of most technology transfer stories.  After all, in order to actually build the factory and produce the goods, you need to know more than what’s in the patents.

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Virtual symposium to mark 25 years of the TRIPS Agreement

The WTO is organizing on 24 November 2020 a virtual symposium to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). This will be the first of a series of commemorative events reflecting on the impact and evolution of the most comprehensive multilateral treaty on intellectual property protection and enforcement.

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