On June 17th 2020, the Innovation, Brands and Intellectual Property Intergroup sent an open letter Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan about the COVID-19 crisis and the risk of Licensing Laws to the production and supply of essential goods to the population.
Under licensing laws, a government has the power to revoke patent rights from innovators or companies if a discovery they made would provide vital treatment or protection related to a national health emergency. Under these laws, another organization can also reproduce and distribute the product without prior consent from the patent-holder. If the patent owner does not comply, they may face heavy fines from the government.
“If European and third-countries’ companies are prevented from retaining their patent licenses, this could hinder furtherly the production and supply of essential goods to the population.”
“A compulsory licensing bill could place even more barriers for pharmaceutical groups trying to make a profit, which could further discourage these kinds of companies from registering in any EU Member State.”
Compulsory licensing is threatening to move the goalposts on how intellectual property rights are protected; it should only be used in a state of national emergency. However, the interpretation of the notion of “health emergency” can be fuzzy.
“There are other grey areas still to be addressed over compulsory licensing as well as there are many ways to make easier access to vaccines: for example, a mutual recognition of FDA and EMA and fast-tracking procedures for some type of medicines. During tough times, decision-makers are requested to restore certainty to the greatest extent possible. Moreover, this crisis compels us to be one step ahead and anticipate issues.”
The letter was signed by:
Gianna GANCIA MEP
Fulvio MARTUSCIELLO MEP
Lucia VUOLO MEP
Massimiliano SALINI MEP
Patrizia POIA MEP
Ivan STEFANEC MEP
Anna- Michelle ASSIMAKOPOULOU MEP
Lukas MANDL MEP
Radan KANEV MEP
Fred ROEDER, Managing Director Consumer Choice Center
FULL LETTER CAN BE SEEN BELOW: