From travel bans to shutting down colleges and schools, the impact of the not so “noble” Coronavirus has brought everything to a halt. Even the IP regimes across the nation have been drawn to a close for many months. To fight the on-going pandemic, the government has become compassionate towards liberalising the strict IP regimes that subsist in our nation, considering this fact India has been a supplier of their Hydroxychloroquine(HCQ), an anti-malarial drug, which is aiding a vast majority of Nations including the economic superpower United States of America. As Time stands there is no such vaccination developed that can obliterate the occurrence of this pandemic, but the question is whether the drugs which are currently obtainable can they moulded or remodeled in such a way that they can assist the authorities to fight the current onset. Though these vaccines may not actually serve the purpose but can surely lessen the virus’s fierceness among the infected people and as the situation seems where many atrocities have been committed in the name of corona-virus, this can surely rationalise the human mind-set towards the virus.
Factually speaking, nations across the globe have assessed their IP regimes and have brought about certain easements to curb redundant obscurities. India as well under the patent act has some liberty that allows the central government to take over any patent that can be used in the situation of emergency. Provided u/s 100 and 102 of the Patents Act, 1970. Countries including Chile, Israel, and France have gauged their Intellectual property laws and favoured compulsory licensing in order to confront this on-going pandemic. A developing nation like India can follow the same apparatus.
However, the interest of researchers should also be considered, knowing for a fact that it takes years of diligent working to determine outcomes, even though the nation’s welfare is always a priority, but grating compulsory licences over researcher’s intellectual property surely destroy the motivation to work forward, so keeping that in mind any policy regarding compulsory licensing “if” comes, it should be ephemeral, not perpetual, the binding authority should get nullified as soon as the emergency situation is uplifted.
- Trade-Related Aspects Of Intellectual Property Rights
In simpler terms TRIPS is basically an agreement between all the nations that have been a member of the World Trade Organisation. The focal ideology behind such agreement is to create an IP routine that all the nations should while manoeuvring Intellectual property laws. Currently in India, a patent is granted for 20 years including the date of obtainment, upon the date of expiry, the said patent becomes a public domain.
TRIPS agreement favours compulsory licensing as opposed to voluntary licensing, although they may sound a bit similar, the notion is slightly at variance. For instance, under voluntary licensing, an institution invented an object and therefore being granted the patent for the same invention, now in this scenario, the other institution has to get authorization from inventors to obtain the right to manufacture that particular invention. Under compulsory licensing, multiple institutions can obtain authorization for the manufacturing of the patented invention and thereafter reimburse the patentee.
- Patents Act, 1970
Owing to what has been discussed above, it would be unjust to not discuss section 47 of the Patents act. The said section empowers the central government to use the core of the patent for its own use, where the term “own use” implies public welfare. Basically, section 47 if read with section 100 of the patents act, broadens the authority of the central government over an invention. In other terms, if an institution has developed a drug and has applied for its patenting yet has not been granted the patent, the government can use the said conception for a public purpose. Considering adequate reimbursement should be provided to the institution.
India while being a signatory to the TRIPS agreement has a lot cogitate about the ever-developing IP protocols and considering current scenarios, interpretation of the Indian patent laws should be a cut above as to how the laws use to get elucidated. The nation did amend its patent laws to obtain patent protection for medicines. This essentially means that the generic drug manufacturers in India have to obtain a licence from the patent holders for manufacturing the vaccine against the corona-virus, if such patent protection would’ve been non-existent then a larger number of manufacturers could’ve produced the drug and made it available at an aggressive price certainly inexpensive.