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AN ANALYSIS OF THE ROLE OF IPR REGIME IN COMBATING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Monalisa Choudhury

Student at National Law University

and Judicial Academy, Assam


Covid-19 has caused various kinds of disruption in our day-to-day lives. Coronavirus has spread across a number of countries which has led to health as well as economic adversities across nations. The world is in dire straits at the moment as Covid-19 is affecting masses thus pushing our lives into deep water gradually.

However amid this critical situation the power of Intellectual Property Rights cannot be denied and it’s very much necessary for every mind to be aware of the same. It is already known that Protection of Intellectual Property is a key which fosters innovation. Without protection of ideas, businesses and researchers would not get ROI on their inventions (investments), which would ultimately lead to less research and development, which we can’t afford, especially in this pandemic [1].


Cruciality of Protecting IP Regime in Covid 19


As stated above, Coronavirus has created economic adversities across the globe. Due to these adversities and lack of idea regarding the persistence of this critical situation a number of companies as well as industries are trying their level best to lay their hands on things very much functional with a view to help themselves in paving their ways to remain outclass in this pandemic situation. The solutions can belong to their own domain or can belong to other ones. However, the key factor cannot be ignored according to which the same has to be oriented in direct lines with the present circumstances.

If we take a real life example it can be observed that industries which are in high demand due to the pandemic include medical, video conferencing, social media platforms etc., and a shift toward adopting solutions from these industries is viable. As a consequence of this demand there exists a possibility of increase in cases of infringement accusations thus making the protection of Intellectual Property Rights very much crucial.

As it is known to all, there exists a cut-throat competition among industries with an aim to flourish and rule their respective domains. Attempt of rising industries in this current pandemic to have an edge over their fellow competitors is a fact which cannot be denied at any cost. This is not the only thing the industries would do to thrive but the companies adopting measures such as cross-industry solutions shall obviously concentrate on making their respective products as well as platforms worthy enough to reach the mark of excellence. There exists a possibility of a mindset in some cases that IP owners may not pay heed in the ongoing pandemic situation; and with this exact mindset, they can certainly have an urge towards inaugurating their product or feature which can again lead to an increase in the number of cases pertaining to the matter of Intellectual Property infringement.


Role of IPR Legislations in India


If we note the current situation of India, the Central Government and the Governments of respective States are working their fingers to the bone to fight the challenges created by this pandemic.

As evident, the nation is getting through such a torrid time which gives rise to the levels of necessity of Intellectual Property Rights Acts to be functional with an aim to save millions.

In countries like Germany, Canada, France, Israel and Chile the laws have been comparatively eased along with enactment of new laws and regulations favoring grant of Compulsory Licenses. These enactments have been introduced with an objective to effectively produce, use and sell medicines/vaccine protected by IPR of that particular country.

Talking about India, there are certain provisions in its Patent Acts which allows the Central Government to take over any patent that can be of use in a state of National emergency or in circumstances of extreme urgency under Section 100 and 102 of the Patents Act, 1970, the provision of compulsory license can also be availed if a potential IP is of use in a state of public health crisis or against any epidemic under Section 92 of the Patents Act, 1970 [2].

However, the passion and interests of the research as well as research organizations rigorously involved in their work to make the area of IP stronger and accessible have to be taken into consideration and the same shall be safeguarded. The grant of compulsory licenses to a particular researcher’s IP can certainly help a country to some extent but can certainly lead to ignorance of researcher’s initiatives thus curbing his zeal for the same. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the World Organisations as well as governments to ensure that the said policies shall be reversed as soon as the state of national emergency comes to an end which shall give the researchers the liberty to enjoy the rights and benefits associated with their domain.

Patent Pools is one of the noteworthy contributions of IP Regimes in battling with the current pandemic situation. As per WIPO, patent pool can be defined as an agreement between two or more patent owners to license one or more of their patents to one another or to third parties. Often, patent pools are associated with complex technologies that require complementary patents in order to provide efficient technical solutions [3]. In this very trying time, numerous patent owners have decided to collaborate with a view to pool their respective patents so that the use of such patents can be done at consolidated lower prices. Also the scope of availability of the patents has been widened. The patents can be used by other patent owners and the same option is available to a third party subject to it’s discretion.

However the above-mentioned remarkable step not only enhances the status of availability of patented products as well as processes but also tends to thwart the patent thickets.

As already discussed, IP regimes have come up with innovative as well as pragmatic solutions to mitigate the critical situation created by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The above information shall be analysed and taken into account which may lead to alleviation of the current situation.

FOOTNOTES

[1] Mitthatmeer Kaur & Nishant Kataria, Role Of Intellectual Property Amid Covid-19 Pandemic, PATENT BLOG & NEWS, (May 4, 2020, 08:30 PM), https://ttconsultants.com/blog/role-of-intellectual-property-amid-covid-19-pandemic/.

[2] Heena Lamba, India: Contribution Of IPR Regimes In Fight Against COVID-19 Pandemic, MONDAQ, (Jun 9, 2020, 05:15 PM), https://www.mondaq.com/india/patent/949744/contribution-of-ipr-regimes-in-fight-against-covid-19-pandemic-.

[3] The WIPO Secretariat, Patent Pools And Antitrust – A Comparative Analysis, WIPO, (Mar, 2014, 07:30 PM), https://www.wipo.int/export/sites/www/ip-competition/en/studies/patent_pools_report.pdf.

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