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The COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to reflect upon the crucial role of intellectual property (IP) in the on-going health crisis and dedicate IP to finding a permanent solution.

Vaccines – permanent solutions:

  • Vaccines are real solutions to this pandemic.
  • However, their production and distribution will take a long time.
  • First it has to be inventedNext approval – even after approval for commercial production is granted in one nation, in order for the product to be available ubiquitously, approvals will be required in every nation.
  • All nations have to be ready for instant manufacturing and marketing of the vaccine.
  • Towards this, continuous dialogue is needed among innovators, manufacturers and supply chains.
  • This demands effort by governments, private industries, and international organisations.

Do patents create roadblocks, or provide a solution?

  • Many innovations happened post COVID19 outbreak. Any of them could be the subject of patent claims worldwide.
  • There may be claims, rival claims by nationsCollaborations may also occur.
  • Patent exclusivity accepted by patent rights may be detrimental to the society.
  • During a pandemic, creating hindrances through exclusivity arguments would result in separating countries, private industries and international organisations.
  • Such hindrances won’t help patients.
  • If patent proprietors build impediments on the strength of patent rights, the world may dislike patents. This is unwarranted.

Patent Exclusivity:

  • Patents grant exclusivity in the market to the owners for a limited period.
  • This exclusivity for drugs will last for as long as the primary patent is in place, usually 20 years.
  • The primary patent applies to the therapeutic active pharmaceutical ingredient (API).

Pandemics need solutions:

  • Governments and international organizations must reach a consensus beforehand to ensure the framework is ready.
  • Under the TRIPS (TradeRelated Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) regime, tools like compulsory licensing could ensure access to medicines.
  • However, society itself should respect innovation.
  • To protect the sanctity and integrity of patent systems, and to prevent an anti IP sentiment, answers should be found within the existing regime.

Patent pools:

  • Patent pools can be used for the collectionadministration and licensing of patents relating to particular technical areas.
  • It could be regulated by a central entity and the patents entering the pool should be readily available for licensing. Some pools could also publish payable royalty rates beforehand.
  • global pool of COVID19related innovations, or innovations related to rare pandemics, in respect of vaccines and medicines could be created.
  • Vaccines and medicines will be quickly available under this.
  • Such pooling of patents is also in line with the Doha Declaration on Public Health (a part of the TRIPS agreement).
  • This declaration recognises the need for taking measures to ‘protect public health’ and ‘promote access to medicines’.

Way forward:

  • Public Private Partnerships (PPP) should be scaled up.
  • Creation of the ‘PPP pandemic patent pool’ at a global level, to pool all innovations, is the way forward.

Source:” The Hindu “.


Patent exclusivity accepted by patent rights may be detrimental to the society. Examine. Could patent pooling be a permanent solution to find vaccines during pandemics?