KEI comments on work of Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP), WIPO GA 2011

This was read today, September 30, 2011, at the WIPO GA

Agenda Item 33(i) Standing Committee on the Law of Patents

KEI agrees with the perceptive and constructive comments offered by South Africa on behalf of the Africa Group, and India, on behalf of the Development Agenda Group (DAG).

KEI makes a general observation that following the WIPO development agenda and other reforms over the period of 2003 to 2007, we expected WIPO to change its role, and to address social concerns about the intellectual property system. So far, were is scant evidence that WIPO can deliver meaningful outcomes that help persons who are poor, or curb abuses of the patent system. The agenda of the SCP is now more balanced and sensitive to social issues, and we hope it does produce useful outcomes.

On the issue of patent quality, we note that this is a polite word for addressing the flood of unwarranted, unjustified and unwanted encroachments on the public domain. The SCP needs to look deeper into why this problem has persisted, since the beginning of the patent system, and what measures actually curb the granting of trivial, non-original and obvious patents. We need a best practices guide for avoiding trivial, non-original, obvious patents. We also need more economic data on the costs of litigating patent validity, by country, to better appreciate the consequences of issuing bad patents in various countries.

As regards patents on health, both WHO and WIPO play a role, and should collaborate. We support in particular the completion of WIPO studies of compulsory licensing. We also recommend the SCP collaborate with the WHO to provide a report on the unequal access to patented drugs for cancer.

Finally, KEI suggests that the PCT consider an amendment to set aside some of the fees on patents to financing challenges to poor quality patents on medical inventions.