In this week’s Patent News – India asks G20 members to establish an agreement that enables the use of TRIPs flexibilities; EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal issues opinion on plant and animal patentability; China launches IP Law Enforcement Action Plan for 2020;  WHO and Costa Rica to launch COVID-19 technology pooling initiative this month and other news updates.

INDIA PATENT NEWS

India asks G20 members to establish an agreement that enables the use of TRIPs flexibilities

During a recent virtual G20 Trade and Investment Ministers meeting, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, asked G20 members to establish an agreement to enable the use of flexibilities provided under the TRIPs. With the objective to offer easy and affordable access to essential medicines, treatments and vaccines, the Minister requested the members to provide PPE’s and other healthcare requirements to those in need of it. The Minister believes that an agreement will open doors for countries to issue compulsory licenses and aid the manufacture of generic medicines.

Health advocacy groups ask Government to revoke Gilead’s patent protecting Remdesvir

Health advocacy groups have reportedly asked the Indian Government to revoke the patent given to Gilead Sciences for the drug Remdesvir. Gilead currently holds three patents in India for the drug which was first developed to combat Ebola. According to a recent announcement made by Gilead, the pharma giant has signed non-exclusive licenses with five generic drug manufactures in India and Pakistan. The licensing deal allows the companies to manufacture and sell the drug in 127 countries. As reported by Aljazeera, the health advocacy groups believe that the essential COVID-19 drug might not be made available to all countries in need of it if the generic companies find the market to be “non-profitable.” Gilead’s patents for the drug currently allows the company to exclusively manufacture and sell Remdesvir in the country until 2035.

INTERNATIONAL PATENT NEWS

EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal issues opinion on plant and animal patentability

On 14th May 2020, the Enlarged Board of Appeal, EPO’s highest level of judicial authority, issued its opinion on the questions raised by EPO President, António Campinos, regarding the patentability of plants and animals in Europe. On 4th April 2019, the EPO President had referred the following questions to the Enlarged Board of Appeal under Article 112(1)(b) EPC:

  1. Having regard to Article 164(2) EPC, can the meaning and scope of Article 53 EPC be clarified in the Implementing Regulations to the EPC without this clarification being a priori limited by the interpretation of said Article given in an earlier decision of the Boards of Appeal or the Enlarged Board of Appeal?
  2. If the answer to question 1 is yes, is the exclusion from patentability of plants and animals exclusively obtained by means of an essentially biological process pursuant to Rule 28(2) EPC in conformity with Article 53(b) EPC which neither explicitly excludes nor explicitly allows said subject-matter?

In reference to these questions, the Enlarged Board of Appeal issued its opinion G 0003/19 and has said that plants and animals exclusively obtained by means of an essentially biological process are excluded from patentability under the European Patent Convention. In the words of the Enlarged Board, “patentability of essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals in Article 53(b) EPC has a negative effect on the allowability of product claims and product-by-process claims directed to plants, plant material or animals, if the claimed product is exclusively obtained by means of an essentially biological process or if the claimed process features define an essentially biological process.”

The Board has also said that the “negative effect” does not apply to European patents granted before 1 July 2017 and European patent applications which were filed before this date and are still pending.

You may click here to access the complete G 0003/19 decision.

WHO and Costa Rica to launch COVID-19 technology pooling initiative this month

As per a recent press release, the World Health Organization, the Presidents of Costa Rica and Chile have announced the launch of a new technology pooling initiative to provide equitable access to COVID-19 health products. The initiative which was first proposed by the Costa Rican government will be launched on 29th May 2020. WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus believes that everyone must have access to innovations without any restrictions. The Director has also said that it is likely that traditional markets will not have the power to meet the global requirements, therefore, solidarity will be the way forward. The official press release explains that the initiative will create a voluntary pool of data, knowledge and IP for existing and new COVID-19 related products.

In addition to the launch of the new platform, a Solidarity Call to Action will be published on the WHO website. Governments, researches, companies and institutions can use this to express their support.

You may click here to access the official press release.

China launches IP Law Enforcement Action Plan for 2020 called “Iron Fist”

The State Administration for market Regulation (SAMR), China, announced the release of a new Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Action Plan for 2020 named “Iron Fist.” The new IP Law Enforcement essentially contains four key Action Plans, namely:

  • Strengthen law enforcement on key commodities –SAMR will focus on law enforcement with regard to patent and trademark violations. It will also on investigating infringement and counterfeiting of geographical indications.
  • Strengthen law enforcement in physical markets – SAMR will improve and increase investigation methods and incorporate surprise inspections
  • Strengthen e-commerce law enforcement – SAMR will use information technology to improve the monitoring and investigation of online sales. It will also strengthen communication and cooperation between law enforcement departments and intellectual property rights holders, e-commerce platform operators, among others.
  • Strengthen law enforcement in the Intellectual Property application process – With special importance given to Trademark applications, SAMR will work to eliminate malicious applications and punish applicants and agencies involved in illegal activities.

Authored and compiled by Vibha Amarnath

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