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Using Intellectual Property Rights to Stimulate Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries: A Reference Guide

Report by UNCTAD, 2011

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The objective of this guide is to provide concise and practical information on ways to promote local pharmaceutical production and improve access to medicines through a variety of policy tools, focusing on the flexibilities provided under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and the interfaces between IP, investment,drugs regulation and procurement strategies.

U n i t e d n a t i o n s C o n f e r e n C e o n t r a d e a n d d e v e l o p m e n t


Using Intellectual Property Rights to
Stimulate Pharmaceutical Production


in Developing Countries:


A RefeRence Guide




United Nations Conference on Trade and Development






Using Intellectual Property Rights


to Stimulate Pharmaceutical Production


in Developing Countries: A Reference Guide









COPYRIGHT © UNITED NATIONS, 2011












United Nations


New York and Geneva, 2011

















ii




Note



UNCTAD serves as the lead entity within the United Nations Secretariat for matters related to
foreign direct investment (FDI), as well as on matters related to science and technology.
UNCTAD’s work is carried out through intergovernmental deliberations, research and
analyses, technical assistance activities, seminars, workshops and conferences.

The term “country” as used in this publication refers, as appropriate, to territories or areas.
The designations employed and the presentation of the material do not imply the expression
of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any
country, territory, city or area, or of authorities, or of authorities, or concerning the
delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. In addition, the designations of country groups are
intended solely for statistical or an analytical convenience and do not necessarily express a
judgment about the stage of development reached by a particular country or area in the
development process. Reference to a company, public or private centres and national
programmes and their activities should not be construed as an endorsement by UNCTAD of
those institution or their activities.

The material contained in this document may be freely quoted or reprinted with appropriate
acknowledgement. This document is available on the website http://www.unctad.org/ddip.










COPYRIGHT © UNITED NATIONS, 2011








UNCTAD/DIAE/PCB/2009/19







iii


Preface



Over the past few years, intellectual property rights (IPRs) have become a major economic,
trade and investment issue, as illustrated by considerable increases in royalty payments and
licensing fees in most areas of the world and the inclusion of intellectual property (IP)
provisions in regional and bilateral trade and investment agreements. At the same time,
concerns have been raised in many countries as to whether the IP system still serves its
original purpose, i.e. the promotion of innovation and the transfer and dissemination of
technology to the benefit of society, or whether exclusive rights are increasingly being used to
defend selective private interests and prevent effective competition.


This debate has been particularly intense in the context of countries’ public health policies.
Patents and the protection of pharmaceutical test data are frequently mentioned in discussions
regarding access to medicines in developing countries. The United Nations Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) put considerable emphasis on access to medicines. Based on its
expertise in the interrelated areas of investment, IP and technology transfer, the United
Nations Conference on Trade and Development is committed to making its contribution to
this important issue.

The present Guide has been prepared by the UNCTAD secretariat (Division on Investment
and Enterprise (DIAE)) as part of its technical assistance activities in the area of IPRs and the
promotion of pharmaceutical production and supply capacities in developing countries.

These activities respond to a 2005 recommendation by UNCTAD’s Commission on
Investment, Technology and Related Financial Issues that:


“UNCTAD should, within its work programme on investment, technology transfer and
intellectual property, assess ways in which developing countries can develop their
domestic productive capability in the supply of essential drugs in cooperation with
pharmaceutical companies.”1



In the pursuit of this mandate, UNCTAD established in 2006 a pilot programme on local
pharmaceutical production and the implementation of regulatory frameworks for access to
medicines with the financial support of Germany and the United Kingdom. The overall
objective of the programme, implemented by the UNCTAD/DIAE Intellectual Property Unit,
is to assist developing countries, and least developed countries (LDCs) in particular, to (a)
establish domestic intellectual property regimes that facilitate increased access to affordable
medicines; and (b) where feasible, create local or regional pharmaceutical production and
supply capacities, with the possibility of cooperative arrangements with investors.







1 See http://www.unctad.org/en/docs/c2l22_en.pdf (paragraph 9(c) of the 2005 Agreed Recommendations).







iv


The objective of the present Guide is to provide concise and practical information on ways to
promote local pharmaceutical production and improve access to medicines through a variety
of policy tools, focusing on the flexibilities provided under the Agreement on Trade-Related
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and the interfaces between IP, investment,
drugs regulation and procurement strategies. The Guide will be an important tool for training
activities for stakeholders from selected developing countries, in an effort to build capacities
for the creation of domestic legal frameworks conducive to the promotion of pharmaceutical
production and supply capacities.




Supachai Panitchpakdi
Secretary-General of UNCTAD











v


Acknowledgments



This Guide was prepared by Christoph Spennemann of UNCTAD’s Intellectual Property Unit,
Investment Capacity-Building Branch of the Division on Investment and Enterprise, and
Professor Jerome H. Reichman, Bunyan S. Womble Professor of Law, Duke University
School of Law, under the supervision of Kiyoshi Adachi. James Zhan provided overall
guidance. Important inputs were provided by Dr. Sandy Harnisch and Ermias Biadgleng. The
preparation of this Guide has been supported by the Ministry of Economic Cooperation and
Development (BMZ) of Germany and the Department for International Development (DFID)
of the United Kingdom.

UNCTAD gratefully acknowledges extensive comments on earlier versions of this Guide
from experts from intergovernmental organizations, governments, civil society organizations
and academia, inter alia at informal consultations convened by the UNCTAD secretariat on
11 October 2007 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, as well as the invaluable contributions by
Pedro Roffe, Senior Fellow, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development
(ICTSD), and Melanie Jones (Duke University School of Law). Mineko Mohri and Erin Close
provided very helpful inputs for the finalization of this document. The UNCTAD secretariat is
solely responsible for the contents and policy options provided in this Guide.







vi


Contents


NOTE .................................................................................................................................................................... II
PREFACE............................................................................................................................................................III
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ....................................................................................................................................V
CONTENTS......................................................................................................................................................... VI
ABBREVIATIONS ............................................................................................................................................. IX
PART ONE STIMULATING THE LOCAL PRODUCTION OF PHARMACEUTICALS IN
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: INTRODUCTORY REMARKS .................................................................... 1


A. UNDERLYING PREMISES OF THIS GUIDE.......................................................................................................... 1
B. LIMITS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS AND THE NEED FOR BALANCE ................................................... 7
C. COUNTERVAILING TENDENCIES IN POST-TRIPS AGREEMENTS ....................................................................... 9


PART TWO POLICY OPTIONS FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF TRIPS FLEXIBILITIES ......... 13
A. SUMMARY OF KEY POLICY OPTIONS UNDER TRIPS ...................................................................................... 13
B. ANALYSIS OF TRIPS FLEXIBILITIES .................................................................................................... 29
1. INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................................................................. 29


1.1 Objectives of the TRIPS Agreement....................................................................................................... 29
1.2 Minimum standards of IP protection..................................................................................................... 30
1.3 Leeway in implementation ..................................................................................................................... 31
1.4 Striking a balance between exclusive rights and public access............................................................. 32
1.5 Overview of TRIPS obligations relevant in the context of local pharmaceutical production................ 34


2. PRE-GRANT FLEXIBILITIES............................................................................................................................. 37
2.1 Full use of LDC transition periods........................................................................................................ 37


2.1.1 Background ..................................................................................................................................................... 37
2.1.2 Policy options .................................................................................................................................................. 41


2.2 Administrative observation and opposition procedures ........................................................................ 44
2.2.1 Background ..................................................................................................................................................... 44
2.2.2 Policy options .................................................................................................................................................. 45


2.3 Patentable subject matter ...................................................................................................................... 46
2.3.1 Substances existing in nature........................................................................................................................... 47


2.3.1.1 Background ............................................................................................................................................. 47
2.3.1.2 Policy options.......................................................................................................................................... 48


2.3.2 New uses of known products ........................................................................................................................... 49
2.3.2.1 Background ............................................................................................................................................. 49


2.3.2.1.1 Legal requirements under TRIPS .................................................................................................... 51
2.3.2.1.2 Policy considerations: the promotion of incremental innovation in developing countries .............. 56


2.3.2.2 Policy options.......................................................................................................................................... 63
2.3.3 Variations in pharmaceutical composition or behaviour/product derivatives .................................................. 64


2.3.3.1 Background ............................................................................................................................................. 64
2.3.3.2 Policy options.......................................................................................................................................... 64


2.4 Patentability criteria.............................................................................................................................. 66
2.4.1 Background ..................................................................................................................................................... 66


2.4.1.1 Novelty.................................................................................................................................................... 66
2.4.1.2 Inventive step .......................................................................................................................................... 67
2.4.1.3 Industrial application............................................................................................................................... 73


2.4.2 Patentability criteria in the pharmaceutical context ......................................................................................... 74
2.4.2.1 New uses of known products................................................................................................................... 74
2.4.2.2 Variations in pharmaceutical composition or behaviour/product derivatives .......................................... 77
2.4.2.3 Selection patents...................................................................................................................................... 84


2.5 Patent claims construction .................................................................................................................... 87
2.5.1 Background ..................................................................................................................................................... 87


2.5.1.1 The claims preamble ............................................................................................................................... 88
2.5.1.2 The transition phrase ............................................................................................................................... 88
2.5.1.3 The body.................................................................................................................................................. 89


2.5.2 Policy options .................................................................................................................................................. 92
2.6 Patent claims interpretation .................................................................................................................. 95







vii


2.6.1 Background ..................................................................................................................................................... 95
2.6.2 Policy options .................................................................................................................................................. 97


2.7 Disclosure of patented inventions.......................................................................................................... 97
2.7.1 Background ..................................................................................................................................................... 97
2.7.2 Policy options .................................................................................................................................................. 98


3. POST-GRANT FLEXIBILITIES........................................................................................................................... 99
3.1 Exceptions to patent rights .................................................................................................................... 99


3.1.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................................................................... 99
3.1.2 The experimental use exception .................................................................................................................... 102


3.1.2.1 Background ........................................................................................................................................... 102
3.1.2.2 Policy options........................................................................................................................................ 106


3.1.3 The regulatory review (“Bolar”) exception ................................................................................................... 108
3.1.3.1 Background ........................................................................................................................................... 108
3.1.3.2 Policy options........................................................................................................................................ 111


3.1.4 Other possible exceptions .............................................................................................................................. 112
3.2 Parallel imports................................................................................................................................... 113


3.2.1 Background ................................................................................................................................................... 113
3.2.2 Policy options ................................................................................................................................................ 117


3.3 Compulsory licenses, including government use ................................................................................. 118
3.3.1 Background ................................................................................................................................................... 118
3.3.2 Technical Legal Infrastructure....................................................................................................................... 127


3.3.2.1 Grounds for the issuance of a compulsory license................................................................................. 127
3.3.2.2 Prior negotiations with the right holder ................................................................................................. 128
3.3.2.3 Granting authority ................................................................................................................................. 130
3.3.2.4 Case-by-case approach .......................................................................................................................... 130
3.3.2.5 Scope and duration of the compulsory license ...................................................................................... 130
3.3.2.6 Rights under a compulsory license – Doha developments..................................................................... 131
3.3.2.7 Adequate remuneration – models for royalty guidelines ....................................................................... 139
3.3.2.8 Review by judicial or distinct higher authority...................................................................................... 142


3.3.3 Policy option: a regional approach to procurement and compulsory licensing.............................................. 143
3.4 The control of patent abuse and anti-competitive licensing practices................................................. 144


3.4.1 Background ................................................................................................................................................... 144
3.4.1.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................................................... 144
3.4.1.2 The TRIPS Agreement framework........................................................................................................ 148


3.4.2 Policy options ................................................................................................................................................ 152
3.4.2.1 Excessive pricing................................................................................................................................... 152
3.4.2.2 Predatory pricing ................................................................................................................................... 154
3.4.2.3 Refusals to license ................................................................................................................................. 156
3.4.2.4 Cross-licensing and patent pools ........................................................................................................... 158
3.4.2.5 Summary of main policy options........................................................................................................... 160


3.5 The protection of clinical test data ...................................................................................................... 161
3.5.1 Background ................................................................................................................................................... 161


3.5.1.1 The misappropriation approach ............................................................................................................. 167
3.5.1.2 The data exclusivity approach ............................................................................................................... 169
3.5.1.3 The compensatory liability or cost-sharing approach ............................................................................ 177


3.5.2 Policy options ................................................................................................................................................ 180
REFERENCES.................................................................................................................................................. 183







viii


Boxes, figures and tables

Boxes
Box 1: Product and process patents and the implications for generic pharmaceutical production 34

Box 2: New use pharmaceutical patents under the European Patent Convention 53

Box 3: How invalid patent claims are used to prevent generic competition 79

Box 4: Alleged TRIPS-inconsistency of Section 3 (d) of the Indian Patents Act 81

Box 5: Compulsory licensing in Thailand 125

Box 6: How the East African Community (EAC)
could use the WTO waivers on compulsory licensing 134

Box 7: Comparative legal analysis of exportation/importation of
pharmaceutical products patented in both the exporting and the importing member 136

Box 8: Rwanda invokes compulsory license for the importation of a fixed-dose anti-retroviral drug
made by the Canadian pharmaceutical company Apotex Inc. 138

Box 9: The concept of market dominance under EU competition law 147

Box 10: The South African experience – addressing excessive pricing of pharmaceuticals 153

Box 11: The Medicines Patent Pool 159

Box 12: The protection of pharmaceutical test data in free trade agreements 173


Figures
Figure 1: Striking a balance between exclusive rights and the public domain 8

Figure 2: Market exclusivity periods generated by patents and data exclusivity legislation 169


Tables
Table 1: TRIPS flexibilities for developing countries in the area of pharmaceuticals 14

Table 2: TRIPS flexibilities for LDCs in the area of pharmaceuticals 21

Table 3: Overview of established exceptions under national patent laws 99

Table 4: Post-TRIPS patent exceptions under national patent laws 101

Table 5: Patent and data exclusivity expiration periods in the United States for selected drugs 171







ix


Abbreviations



ACP African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States
AIPPI Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property
ALRC Australian Law Reform Commission
API Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient
ARV Antiretroviral
BGH Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice, Germany)
BIT bilateral investment treaty
BMZ Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und


Entwicklung (Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and
Development, Germany)


CAFC Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit (United Sates)
CAFTA Central American Free Trade Agreement
CAMR Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime
CARIFORUM Caribbean Forum
CBD Convention on Biological Diversity
CCPA Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (United States)
CGIAR Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
CIEL Center for International Environmental Law
CIPIH Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public


Health
DIAE Division on Investment and Enterprise (UNCTAD)
DFID Department for International Development (United Kingdom)
DRA Drug Regulatory Authority
EAC East African Community
EC European Community(ies) (now European Union)
ECJ European Court of Justice
EGC European General Court (formerly European Court of First Instance)
EFTA European Free Trade Association
EML Essential Medicines List
EMR Exclusive Marketing Right
EPA European Partnership Agreement
EPC European Patent Convention
EPO European Patent Office
EST Expressed Sequence Tag
EU European Union
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FDA Food and Drug Administration (United States)
FDC fixed dose combination
FDI foreign direct investment
FIFRA Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (United States)
FTA free trade agreement
GAO Government Accountability Office (United States)
GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
GDP gross domestic product







x


GTZ Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (German
Federal Agency for Technical Cooperation)


HAI Health Action International
HIV/AIDS Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency


Syndrome
ICTSD International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development
IFPMA International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and


Associations
IP intellectual property
IPRs intellectual property rights
IP Watch Intellectual Property Watch (Monthly Edition and online publication)
ITPGRFA International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and


Agriculture (FAO)
JPO Japanese Patent Office
KEI Knowledge Ecology International
LDC least developed countries
MDGs Millennium Development Goals
MFN most favoured nation
MSF Médecins Sans Frontières
NAFTA North American Free Trade Association
NGO non-governmental organization
OAPI Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (African


Intellectual Property Organization)
OECD Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
PCT Patent Cooperation Treaty
R&D research and development
RPSC regional pharmaceutical supply center
RTA regional trade agreement
SNP Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms
SPLT Substantive Patent Law Treaty
TRIPS Agreement Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
TRM Tiered Royalty Method
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
U.S.C. United States Code
USPTO United States Patent and Trademark Office
USTR United States Trade Representative
WHA World Health Assembly
WHO World Health Organization
WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization
WTO World Trade Organization





Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


1


PART ONE


Stimulating the Local Production of Pharmaceuticals in
Developing Countries: Introductory remarks


At the September 2005 United Nations General Assembly, the Heads of State and
Government of the United Nations Member States reiterated their determination to ensure the
timely and full realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Despite
this commitment, the MDGs are far from being realized. In particular, large populations in
developing countries still lack regular access to essential medicines.2 One third of the global
population lacks access to needed medicines, and the situation is worse in poor countries,
where as much as 50 per cent of the population lacks access.3


A. Underlying premises of this Guide


Effective promotion of affordable access to medicines in developing countries depends on a
multitude of different factors. Access is made difficult by insufficient distribution
infrastructure, lack of medical personnel, trade and fiscal barriers, inadequate health care
systems and prices that are unaffordable to citizens of developing countries. There have been
important initiatives on the part of the pharmaceutical industry to donate medicines, but the
magnitude of the health crisis faced by developing countries requires more sustainable, long-
term solutions.4 Particular difficulties arise in the case of diseases that disproportionately
affect developing countries, such as tuberculosis and malaria, due to the fact that market
mechanisms have failed to provide the pharmaceutical industry with incentives to rapidly
develop effective cures.

One possible means of addressing the lack of access to medicines in developing countries is
the creation of local pharmaceutical production and supply capacities. This could make
developing countries less dependent on the importation of pharmaceutical products, which are
often high-priced. The potential importance of local production has been recognized in World
Health Assembly (WHA) Resolution 61.21, “Global strategy and plan of action on public
health, innovation and intellectual property”, Element 4.1 of which calls upon member States



2 Access to medicines plays an important role in the realization of the United Nations Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs). See Goal 6 (Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases) and Goal 8, target 17 (In
cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable, essential drugs in developing
countries) available at: http://www.who.int/topics/millennium_development_goals/about/en/index.html.
3 World Health Organization and Health Action International, “Measuring Medicine Prices, Availability,
Affordability and Price Components,” 2nd edition, 2008, p. 1.
4 This is the view expressed by the former CEO of Merck. See “Public health, innovation and intellectual
property rights”, Report of the World Health Organization’s Commission on Intellectual Property Rights,
Innovation and Public Health, Geneva, April 2006, pp. 131/132 hereinafter CIPIH Report.
(available at: http://www.who.int/intellectualproperty/report/en/index.html).




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


2


to promote the “transfer of technology and the production of health products in developing
countries”.5

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) High Level Forum
on Medicines for Neglected and Emerging Infectious Diseases in June 2007 recommended:


“… 3. Supporting developing countries-led efforts in strengthening their own health,
local production and research systems …. In particular: … Taking steps to
strengthen the capability of developing countries to manage issues of intellectual
property, including using available flexibilities to the fullest extent, and to build
sustainable networks and capacity for global research.”6



The European Parliament has urged the European Union (EU) and its member States to:


“take additional measures […] to facilitate and increase the production of
pharmaceutical products by the developing countries themselves […] [and] to provide
concrete financial support for […] local production of pharmaceuticals in all
developing countries, especially LDCs […].”7



Based on the work undertaken by UNCTAD on IPRs and development,8 this Guide is meant
to provide concise and practical information on the ways international IPR rules may be used
as tools for the promotion of local pharmaceutical production in developing countries and
LDCs. Additionally, many of the measures discussed in this Guide would contribute to
strengthening developing countries’ and LDCs’ capacities to purchase patented medicines at
affordable prices, irrespective of their local production capacities. The Guide is mainly
addressed to developing country government officials and policymakers, producers of generic
pharmaceutical products and their legal counsels, as well as civil society stakeholders. The
Guide does not attempt to provide a comprehensive treatment of the access to medicines issue,
nor does it explore contextual issues of local production, such as infrastructure and
governance challenges. In order for the options available under the TRIPS Agreement to be
fully implemented, a combination of political will, good lawyering and sufficient resources is
required.9 This Guide deals with the question of good lawyering, with a view to enabling
those countries with a political will to increase both access to needed medicines and local
pharmaceutical production.10



5 Sixty-first World Health Assembly, WHA61.21 of 24 May 2008, Element 4.1, para. 32, p. 41 (available at:
http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA61-REC1/A61_REC1-en.pdf).
6See OECD, “Noordwijk Medicines Agenda”, 21 June 2007,
(available at: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/62/11/38845838.pdf).
7 See Nos. 3 and 4 of the Resolution P6_TA-PROV (2007) 0353 of 12 July 2007 (available at:
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-
0353+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN).
8 See the UNCTAD-ICTSD Project on Intellectual Property Rights and Sustainable Development (available at:
http://www.unctad.org/ddip).
9 See F. Abbott, J.H. Reichman, “The Doha Round’s Public Health Legacy: Strategies for the Production and
Diffusion of Patented Medicines Under the Amended TRIPS Provisions,” Journal of International Economic
Law, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 921 ff. hereinafter Abbott/Reichman (available at http://eprints.law.duke.edu/1838/1/
Reichman10_J.Int’l__Econ_L.921-987_2007.pdf).
10 There have been some indications of enhanced collaboration among African nations. The African Union’s
Conference of Ministers of Health decided to “pursue, with the support of our partners, the local production of
generic medicines on the continent and to making full use of the flexibilities within the Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and DOHA Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.” See the “Gaborone
Declaration”, Doc. CAMH/Decl.1 (II), 10-14 October 2005, p. 3.




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


3



UNCTAD’s work on the IP aspects of local pharmaceutical production is part of a larger
German-sponsored initiative to promote local pharmaceutical producers in the developing
world.11 In addition, UNCTAD, with the support of the United Kingdom’s Department for
International Development (DFID) provided technical assistance to developing countries in
the implementation of regulatory frameworks for access to medicines.

IPRs may provide important incentives for innovation in the pharmaceutical sector12 but may
also create obstacles to future innovation and impediments to the diffusion of both knowledge
and research results in addition to high prices that reduce access to needed medicines.13
Experts have highlighted that exclusive rights are one of the important factors influencing the
prices of pharmaceutical products.14 This premise was also acknowledged in the World Trade
Organization (WTO) Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, whose
paragraph 3 states:


“3. We recognize that intellectual property protection is important for the development
of new medicines. We also recognize the concerns about its effects on prices.”15



The high prices of patented products result from the need for the pharmaceutical industry to
recoup the research and development (R&D) costs as well other expenditures, such as
marketing costs. Questions arise, however, when the pricing policies of some companies
result in medicines being marketed by way of a low-volume, high margin strategy in



11 The German initiative originates in the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
and involves other stakeholders such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the
German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), the German Bank for Reconstruction (KfW), and Capacity
Building International, Germany (InWEnt). The involvement of a broad range of stakeholders reflects the multi-
faceted aspects of promoting local pharmaceutical production, i.e. the need to provide technical assistance
regarding a domestic legal framework on IP and investment; macro-and micro economic analysis and assistance
for governments and companies; training of local producers in production and quality issues; and the financing
of training activities. It is important to note that this initiative is not seeking to introduce pharmaceutical
production in every developing country or LDC, but only in those where this seems economically feasible and
sustainable.
12 See, e.g., J. Straus, “The Impact of the New World Order on Economic Development: The Role of the
Intellectual Property Rights System”, European Review, Vol. 15, Issue 01, 2007, pp. 47 ff., referring also to
other sectors of industry.
13 See, e.g., C. Correa, “Can the TRIPS Agreement Foster Technology Transfer to Developing Countries?”, in
International Public Goods and Transfer of Technology under A Globalized Intellectual Property Regime,
editors K. Maskus and J.H. Reichman, Cambridge University Press, 2005 hereinafter Maskus/Reichman, pp.
227 ff (229–32); J.H. Reichman, R. Cooper Dreyfuss, “Harmonization Without Consensus: Critical Reflections
on Drafting A Substantive Patent Law Treaty”, Duke Law Journal, 2007, pp. 85 ff. [hereinafter
Reichman/Cooper Dreyfus].
14 See Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, “Integrating Intellectual Property Rights and Development
Policy”, London, 2002, p. 36 hereinafter Commission on Intellectual Property Rights (available at
www.iprcommission.org/graphic/documents/final_report.htm); and the United Kingdom Department for
International Development, “Increasing people’s access to essential medicines in developing countries: a
framework for good practice in the pharmaceutical industry”, March 2005, p. 20 hereinafter DFID (available at
http://www.aidsportal.org/store/909.pdf). The view that patents affect drugs prices is not uncontroversial. For the
opposing opinion, see T. Jones in the CIPIH Report, p. 225, referring to non-IPR-related obstacles. See also E.
Noehrenberg, “The realities of TRIPS, patents and access to medicines in developing countries”, in The
Intellectual Property Debate. Perspectives from Law, Economics and Political Economy, editor M.P. Pugatch,
Cheltenham, Northampton, 2006, pp. 170 ff. hereinafter Noehrenberg, arguing that patents confer much less
pricing power than usually thought.
15 Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, WTO document WT/MIN(01)/DEC/W/2, of 14
November 2001 (available at: http://www.who.int/medicines/areas/policy/tripshealth.pdf).




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


4


developing countries, particularly considering that R&D costs are typically recuperated
through sales in OECD countries.16

In the absence of exclusive rights on pharmaceutical products, prices for drugs may be kept at
a more affordable level than under a patent regime. An example is India, which had the lowest
prices for pharmaceutical products in the world prior to patent protection being introduced in
2005.17 Existing studies estimate that the introduction of patent regimes in lower and middle
income developing countries will result in price increases between 12 per cent and 200 per
cent,18 which is highly likely to have an impact on effective access to medicines in these
countries. In their research on the subject, DFID refers to various studies confirming
important price differences between patented and generic pharmaceutical products.19

A sufficient degree of generic competition will typically contribute to price decreases,20
although there are some cases when generic prices are not lower than those charged for
patented products.21 Companies that produce generics operate according to the same market
principles as brand name pharmaceutical producers and are sometimes unable to offer the
lowest price available in small developing countries that do not possess sufficient purchasing
power. It is for this reason that the present Guide seeks to promote a cooperative and, ideally,
regional approach to intellectual property in relation to local pharmaceutical production issues
by developing country governments, in the hope of fostering regional pharmaceutical markets
and economies of scale and scope.22

This Guide is based on several underlying premises:


a) This Guide takes the stance that, were the existing flexibilities available to WTO
members for the implementation of international IP standards fully utilized, there
would be beneficial effects for developing countries, both in terms of availability of
medicines as well as local pharmaceutical R&D and innovation. However, this Guide
does acknowledge that IPRs are only one factor among many that affect the
availability and production of pharmaceutical substances in developing countries.
Some believe that the impact of IPRs on access to medicines in developing countries
should be minimal 23 , because pharmaceutical patents are concentrated in larger,



16 See Abbott/Reichman; K. Outterson, “Patent Buy-Outs for Global Disease Innovations for Low- and Middle-
Income Countries”, American Journal of Law and Medicine, Vol. 32, 2006, pp. 159 ff [hereinafter Outterson]
(available at http://www.cptech.org/ip/health/prizefund/files/outterson-buyouts.pdf). See also Ministry of Public
Health and National Health Security Office, Thailand, “Facts and Evidences on the 10 Burning Issues Related to
the Government Use of Patents on Three Patented Essential Drugs in Thailand”, February 2008 (available at:
http://www.moph.go.th/hot/Second_white_paper_on_the_Thai_CL_%5BEN%5D.pdf). The CIPIH Report, pp.
111/112, states that “companies may find it best for their profitability to concentrate only on high income
segments in developing countries, in particular because it is more difficult to apply a differential pricing policy
within developing countries than it is between them.” It should be noted, however, that some companies have
undertaken remarkable efforts in setting up systems of tiered pricing in developing countries. See, for example,
Gilead, available at: http://www.gilead.com/enabling_access.
17 Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, p. 36.
18 Ibid, p. 37, referring to studies by C. Fink (2000) and J. Watal (2000).
19 DFID, p. 20.
20 See the CIPIH Report, p. 112, referring to the significant role that competition within the generics industry has
played in bringing down prices of off-patent pharmaceutical products.
21 See DFID, p. 21. See also Noehrenberg, pp. 174-175, who provides several examples of patented products
undercutting the prices charged by generic competitors.
22 For details, see below, Section 3.3.3.2.
23 Ibid; Noehrenberg, p. 172; for further sources see Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, p. 35, with
references.




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


5


developed market24. One piece of evidence used to support this view is the fact that
the majority of drugs included on the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Essential
Medicines List (EML) are not patented in sub-Saharan African countries and other
LDCs. There are multiple reasons that this conclusion is inaccurate: First, the overall
cost of treatment and cost-effectiveness are criteria for inclusion of a pharmaceutical
product on the EML, so a number of on-patent essential medicines are likely omitted
on these grounds.25 Second, the low percentage of patented drugs on the EML is an
overall figure, which does not necessarily apply to large developing countries with a
high number of HIV/AIDS patients. Even in sub-Saharan Africa, pharmaceutical
patent coverage is rather comprehensive in countries with large populations and/or
relatively higher incomes and a considerable number of HIV/AIDS patients, such as
Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe.26 Third, patents granted in large developing
countries can have a direct effect on the access to that same drug in smaller LDCs,
even if it is not patented in the latter. Patients and local producers in the smaller
country often depend on the importation of medicines or pharmaceutical substances
from larger developing countries. High prices in the source country, as generated by
patents, may considerably decrease access to these substances.27 Fourth, the fact that
drugs patenting is higher in large countries limits generic producers to the remaining
small markets, which may complicate efforts to benefit from economies of scale.



b) The appropriate and balanced implementation of multilateral rules on IP, particularly


those regarding patents and pharmaceutical test data, plays an important role in a
government’s strategy to promote local pharmaceutical production. In this area, IP
may provide incentives to local inventors and foreign investors.28 This is particularly
true in more advanced developing countries where local industries have acquired a
certain level of technological capacity that enables them to engage in inventive
activity. IPRs may also play a role in facilitating the licensing of technology necessary
to this inventive activity, as well as purchases of related products that would not
otherwise be available without such protection. However, supplier firms may also use



24 See A. Attaran. “How do patents and economic policies affect access to essential medicines in developing
countries?” Health Affairs, Vol. 23, No. 3, 2004 (available at: http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/
full/23/3/155 ), stating that only 1.4 per cent of the drugs included on the EML are patentable.
25 See Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, p. 53, footnote 41.
26 See UNCTAD–ICTSD, “Intellectual Property Rights: Implications for Development”, Policy Discussion
Paper, Geneva, 2003 p. 97, Box 6.2 hereinafter UNCTAD-ICTSD Policy Discussion Paper] (available at
http://www.iprsonline.org/unctadictsd/policyDpaper.htm), citing Oxfam, Consumer Project on Technology,
Essential Action, Oxfam, Treatment Access Campaign and Health Gap, “Comment on the Attaran/Gillespie-
White and PhRMA surveys of patents on Antiretroviral drugs in Africa”, 2001 (available at:
http://www.cptech.org/ip/health/africa/dopatentsmatterinafrica.html). The above-mentioned NGOs in their
comment state that “the 23 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that have 4 or more ARV products on patent have 53
per cent of the HIV+ patients and 68 per cent of the Region GDP. The 20 Sub-Saharan countries that have
patents on 6 or more ARV products have 46 per cent of the patients and 56 per cent of the region’s GDP.”
27 Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, p. 35, referring to South Africa as one important pharmaceutical
supplier for its small neighbouring countries, and the possibility of affecting drug supply in the latter by limiting
drug patents to South Africa.
28 See, for instance, A. Arora, A. Fosfuri and A. Gambardella, “Markets for Technology, Intellectual Property
Rights and Development”, in Maskus/Reichman, pp. 321 ff. (325–26: “Strong patent protection provides
incentives to codify and organize new knowledge in ways that are meaningful and useful to others.”); A.O.
Sykes, “TRIPS, Pharmaceuticals, Developing Countries, and the Doha ‘Solution’”, Chicago Journal of
International Law, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2002, pp. 47 ff. (48: “The ultimate wisdom of measures that relax intellectual
property protection for pharmaceuticals in developing countries turns on complex matters, including empirical
issues about which one can only hazard an educated guess.”). See also discussion, infra, on the limits of IPRs
and the need for balance.




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6


IPRs to restrict the availability of both technology and high-technology products by
either refusing to deal with local entrepreneurs or extracting such high rents that local
business owners become uncompetitive on world markets. For this reason, this Guide
identifies areas of competition law and policy that are of particular relevance to the
control of IP-related practices and that potentially have a restrictive effect on
competition and the transfer and dissemination of technology.



c) IPRs should be geared to the technological capacities of the country in question to the


extent that the policy space under the TRIPS Agreement allows in order to maximize
incentives to invent. In some advanced developing countries, these incentives must
take into account the needs of an emerging research and development (R&D)-based
pharmaceutical industry. Moreover, countries with some capacity in pharmaceutical
R&D will also benefit from the availability of IPRs in OECD markets, irrespective of
the level of IP protection at home. 29 For most developing countries and LDCs,
however, inventive capacity in the pharmaceutical sector remains very low. The
availability of affordable generic medicines from both local production and imports is
best guaranteed by the establishment of a pro-competitive environment as created
through the use of certain legal tools available under the TRIPS Agreement.30



d) It is thus an underlying principle of this Guide that the effective promotion of a pro-


competitive environment is one of the major driving forces behind product
improvement and pharmaceutical innovation. In most developing countries, the notion
of a “pro-competitive environment” is understood to be much broader than issues
relating only to competition law; rather, it requires the design of IP law and policy that
reflect a proper balance between the granting of exclusive rights and the promotion of
follow-on innovation through competitors.



e) The distribution of patented drugs in developing countries should, in principle, follow


a high-volume, low-margin pricing strategy, rather than a low-volume, high-margin
approach, in order to make products broadly available to more who need them. In
relation to this premise, an increase in the local production capacity of developing
countries’ pharmaceutical industries will also likely exert a considerable influence on
prices, as well as expand local technological capacity.



f) The establishment or growth of local pharmaceutical production facilities has spill-


over effects of potentially great benefit to both developing countries and LDCs. In
addition to the direct employment benefits that such facilities produce, local
production results in the diffusion of know-how and may create networking effects
between the producer and local universities and research institutes. Through such
connections, developing countries may continue to increase their ability to



29 This is due to the principle of independence of patents obtained for the same invention in different countries,
see Article 4bis of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property hereinafter Paris Convention
(available at http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/paris/trtdocs_wo020.html). According to S. Chaudhuri, increased
patenting by major Indian pharmaceutical companies since 1995 is due to the availability of broad patent
protection in OECD countries, rather than the introduction of product patent protection in India. See S.
Chaudhuri, “Is Product Patent Protection Necessary in Developing Countries for Innovation? R&D by Indian
Pharmaceutical Companies after TRIPS”, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Working Paper Series, WPS
No. 614, 2007 (available at http://ictsd.org/i/ip/health/24097/).
30 See also the CIPIH Report, p. 112: “Governments should work to create a pro-competitive environment for the
marketing of medicines, as competition is in the last instance the key tool to drive prices down and improve
access to medicines.”




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


7


manufacture existing drugs, invent new medicinal technologies, and develop
applications of traditional knowledge, which can lead to additional exports and
marketing opportunities.


B. Limits of intellectual property rights and the need for balance


There has been a tendency in recent years for courts to grant exclusive rights on derivatives of
existing pharmaceutical compounds whose inventiveness is questionable. 31 In 2002, the
United States Federal Trade Commission found that generic producers had a success rate of
close to 75 per cent in challenging pharmaceutical patents in the United States.32 Between
2000 and 2007, generic producers prevailed in 62 per cent of the final judgments rendered by
European courts in patent litigation cases between originator and generic companies. The vast
majority of these cases were initiated by originator companies.33 Where not challenged,
improperly granted exclusive rights may cause considerable obstacles for follow-on
innovation, especially in countries where local industries lack inventive capacity. Broad
exclusive rights (often held by foreign companies) may block access by local producers to
informal means of technology transfer through reverse engineering, imitation or adaptation.
Learning and follow-on innovation by domestic manufacturers in developing countries also
depend on the public domain availability of data, information, materials and research tools, as
well as know-how. Denying access to these latter inputs through overly broad exclusive rights
may hinder or prevent the development of local expertise, thereby limiting the potential for
effective collaboration between foreign investors and local industries. A 2003 OECD study on
the impact of IPR protection on foreign direct investment (FDI) found that:


“… The results do not imply that stronger patent protection (or correlated IPRs) will
always raise FDI and trade. There may come a point where these types of IPRs are too
strong – in the sense that they grant producers of intellectual products excessive market
power – in which case IPRs may negatively influence FDI and trade. Thus, the
empirical finding i.e. that there is a positive correlation between IPR protection and the
promotion of FDI is conditional on intellectual property systems not reaching excessive
levels of strength.”34


In order to establish sustainable pharmaceutical production in developing countries, the
present Guide underlines the importance of foreign investment, either through the R&D-based
or the generic pharmaceutical industry. Depending on the investor’s priorities, IPRs can play a
positive role by encouraging the transfer of needed technology and know-how, leading to the
production of existing pharmaceuticals and the innovation of new medicines.35 However,

31 For details, see below, Section 2.4.2.2.
32 See Federal Trade Commission, “Generic Drug Entry Prior to Patent Expiration: An FTC Study”, Washington,
D.C., July 2002, p. 17 [hereinafter United States FTC Study]
(available at: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2002/07/genericdrugstudy.pdf).
33 See Competition Directorate General of the European Commission, “Pharmaceutical Sector Inquiry”, Final
Report, 8 July 2009, p. 12 (para. 3.2.2.) [hereinafter EU Pharmaceutical Sector Inquiry]
(available at http://ec.europa.eu/competition/sectors/pharmaceuticals/inquiry/index.html).
34 OECD, Working Party of the Trade Committee, “The Impact of Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights on
Trade and Foreign Direct Investment in Developing Countries”, 2003
(available at: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/59/46/2960051.pdf), p. 4.
35 At the informal consultations on an earlier draft of this Guide held on 11 October 2007 at the Palais des
Nations hereinafter peer review meeting, stakeholders disagreed regarding the effects that IPRs can play in




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


8


putting one-sided emphasis on exclusive rights and inappropriately limiting the public domain
may not only prevent domestic learning, but risks deterring an important source of foreign
investment, i.e. big generic companies in countries such as India or the European Union
member States. Representatives of the generic industry have indicated their interest in
investing in local production sites in developing countries, particularly in Africa, provided the
latter implement, to the fullest extent, available TRIPS flexibilities and take advantage of
regional collaboration to create bigger markets.36

The importance of an appropriate balance between the protection of exclusive rights and the
promotion of follow-on innovation through an accessible public domain has also been
highlighted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property. Based on a number of
recent studies, the conclusion has emerged that stronger patent protection does not necessarily
lead to more innovation. This conclusion is illustrated by the following graph (figure 1).

Figure 1: Striking a balance between exclusive rights and the public domain








Source: N. Thumm, Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property.



promoting local innovation and expanding foreign investment. Some saw IPRs as a positive factor in these areas,
whereas others expressed that their role should not be overstated. These conflicting views reiterate the fact that
empirical evidence concerning the link between the strength of a country’s IP protection scheme and the
decisions of companies to invest in that country is inconclusive. The effect of strengthened IP protection in a
given country is often dependent on other factors, such as the size of the domestic market, the structure of factor
supply, productive infrastructure and the level of stability of the macroeconomic environment. Countries are
more likely to benefit from additional technology transfer under TRIPS if they coordinate IPR strengthening
with broader modernization programs, such as programs for technology development that include human
resource and skills development. See, e.g., UNCTAD, “The TRIPS Agreement and Developing Countries”,
Geneva, 1996, p. 18; UNCTAD-ICTSD Policy Discussion Paper, p. 87, with references to further literature). The
view that there is no positive causal relationship between IP protection on the one hand and foreign investment
on the other is emphasized by S. Chaudhuri, “The WTO and India’s Pharmaceuticals Industry”, Oxford
University Press, New Delhi, 2005, chapters 2 and 4. Patents held in India by foreign companies prior to 1970
were even used to prevent local companies from manufacturing generic products (ibid., pp. 128 ff.).
36 Representative of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, oral communication to UNCTAD staff (September
2007); see also Abbott/Reichman, p. 42, footnote 219, citing a statement by a spokesperson of the European
Generic Medicines Association, hearing before the European Parliament International Trade Committee, June 5,
2007.


Biomedical SMEs - Nikolaus ThummOctober 25, 2006 3


(P)
Patents as a Policy Measure


Protection vs. Innovation (I)


levelMinimal level


Maximal
innovation


Optimal protectionprotection


level


P


I


25 Octo er 2 06




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


9


This graph appears in several of the Institute’s publications. 37 While the straight line
represents the traditional conception of the relationship between IPR strength and innovation
(higher protection always results in more innovation), the curve shows that in reality there is
an optimal level of protection, beyond which innovation will drop.

In the local production context, too much protection risks cutting local producers off from
essential know-how, thereby leaving the market to only originator firms and limit or exclude
competition. The lack of generic competition may in turn increase incentives for the
originator firm to neglect product improvement and follow-on innovation, focusing on the
marketing of existing products instead.

The optimal level of IP protection varies from country to country, depending on the respective
level of development (see Section 1.4 for details). As explained below, the TRIPS Agreement
provides governments with a large array of tools with which to create a relatively more pro-
competitive environment in the pharmaceutical sector by appropriately balancing exclusive
rights and the public domain.


C. Countervailing tendencies in post-TRIPS agreements


Since the entry into force of the TRIPS Agreement in 1995, the European Union (EU),38 the
countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Japan and the United States have
been active in the negotiation of regional and bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs).39 In
addition, there have been efforts at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to
negotiate a Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT).40

Some of these agreements have been viewed as seriously limiting the options to tailor national
IP policies to domestic public health needs and varying levels of technological development
that exist under the TRIPS Agreement.41 In October 2007, a report published by the United
States Congress found that negotiated FTAs with developing countries:



37 Such as in N. Thumm, “Reasonable patent protection with a statutory research exemption”, in IPR Helpdesk
Bulletin No 29, September-October 2006.
38 Note that when the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force on 1 December 2009, the EU acquired legal personality,
thus replacing the “European Communities” (EC) as formerly defined under Article XI of the WTO Agreement.
See http://europa.eu/lisbon_treaty/glance/index_en.htm; the list of WTO members has been updated accordingly,
see http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/org6_e.htm.
39 See F. Abbott, “The Cycle of Action and Reaction. Developments and Trends in Intellectual Property and
Health” hereinafter Abbott, The Cycle of Action and Reaction, in Negotiating Health. Intellectual Property
and Access to Medicines, editors P. Roffe, G. Tansey and D. Vivas-Eugui, Earthscan, London, 2006 hereinafter
Negotiating Health, p. 27.
40 For an overview of the evolution of the SPLT discussions at WIPO see www.wipo.int/patent-law; on the Open
Forum on the SPLT
see http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/2006/scp_of_ge_06/.
41 For an overview of recent developments in FTAs, see P. Roffe and C. Spennemann, “Preferential Trade
Agreements and Intellectual Property Rights”, in: Intellectual Property Rights: Legal and Economic Challenges
for Development, editors J. Stiglitz, M. Cimoli, G. Dosi, K. Maskus, R. Okediji, and J.H. Reichman, forthcoming,
2011); see also, e.g., Abbott, The Cycle of Action and Reaction; C. Fink and P. Reichenmiller, “Tightening
TRIPS: The Intellectual Property Provisions of Recent United States Free Trade Agreements”, Trade Note 20,
The World Bank Group, 7 February 2005) hereinafter Fink/Reichenmiller; P. Roffe and C. Spennemann, “The
Impact of Free Trade Agreements on Public Health Policies and TRIPS Flexibilities”, International Journal of
Intellectual Property Management, Vol. 1, Issue 1/2, 2006. On the SPLT, see Reichman/Cooper Dreyfuss.




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


10



“… threaten the ability of our trade partners to take necessary public health measures.
These provisions, found in CAFTA [Central American Free Trade Agreement] and
other FTAs already in effect, could significantly delay the availability of lower-cost
generic medicines.”42



This issue of “TRIPS-plus” provisions in FTAs will be discussed in more detail in Section 3.5,
below, in the context of the protection of pharmaceutical test data, which is one of the areas
where FTA provisions are likely to have the biggest impact on a developing country’s options
to promote generic competition. For now, it suffices to highlight the following basic facts:


 Existing FTAs signed by the United States that include terms that have the potential to
impact public health involve countries such as Bahrain; the Central American
countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the
Dominican Republic; Chile; Lebanon; Morocco; Oman; Peru and Tunisia. In addition,
FTAs between the United States and Colombia, Panama, and the Republic of Korea
have been signed, but not yet entered into force.43 In early 2010 the EU, Colombia and
Peru concluded negotiations regarding the IP chapter in a new EU/Colombia/Peru
draft FTA, which provides, for the first time in an EU FTA, rules on exclusive
protection of pharmaceutical test data.44 The EU has suggested comparable provisions
for a draft FTA with India. In January 2010, the Chairman of the EU Parliament’s
Working Group on Innovation, Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases
expressed concern about the effects of these rules on the availability of affordable
Indian generic drugs, particularly in poor developing countries.45



 At this point in time, LDCs have not been parties to FTAs such as those referenced


above. However, the European Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and the
countries of the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) does address an LDC (i.e. Haiti).46
EPA terms include a number of public health-relevant proposals by the EU that, where
adopted, could potentially have a chilling effect on generic production in the African,
Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP).47 In 2007, the European Parliament
adopted a report on EPAs, asking the EU Commission to refrain from including IP



42 See Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, “New GAO Report Indicates United States Trade
Policy Neglects Public Health Issues”, 30 October 2007. See also United States Government Accountability
Office (GAO), “United States Trade Policy Guidance on WTO Declaration on Access to Medicines May Need
Clarification”, Report to Congressional Requesters, Washington, D.C., 2007 [hereinafter GAO Report].
43 For the texts of these agreements, see http://www.ustr.gov. It should be noted that the recent FTAs signed by
the United States with Colombia, Panama and Peru, subsequent to a bipartisan agreement of May 2007, include
some important revisions to the IP chapters related to health. See P. Roffe and D. Vivas-Eugui, “A Shift in
Intellectual Property Policy in United States FTAs?” ICTSD-BRIDGES, Vol. 11, No. 5, August 2007
(available at: http://ictsd.org/i/news/bridges/4128/).
44 See Intellectual Property Watch (IP Watch), “Strong IP Health Provisions in Europe’s Colombia/Peru Trade
Deal”, Newsletter, March/April 2010, p. 13.
45 See IP Watch “New Parliament Group Monitors EU Trade Pacts’ Impact On Poor’s Medicines Access”, 28
January 2010 (available at http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2010/01/28/new-parliament-group-monitors-eu-
trade-pacts-impact-on-poors-medicines-access/).
46 For an analysis of the IP and innovation chapters of the EU – CARIFORUM EPA, see M. Spence,
“Negotiating Trade, Innovation and Intellectual Property: Lessons from the CARIFORUM EPA Experience
from a Negotiator’s Perspective”, UNCTAD-ICTSD Policy Brief No. 4, September 2009 (available at
www.unctad.org/en/docs/iprs_pb20094_en.pdf ).
47 For details, see M. Santa Cruz, “Intellectual Property Provisions in European Union Trade Agreements”,
ICTSD Issue Paper No. 20, 2007; and Abbott/Reichman.




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11


provisions that could adversely affect access to essential medicines in the ACP
countries.48



 LDCs may also be affected by South-South regional IP agreements that elevate


standards of protection beyond those provided under TRIPS. The Bangui Agreement
of the African Intellectual Property Organization (Organisation Africaine de la
Propriété Intellectuelle, OAPI), for instance, contains a number of such provisions.



 Despite the impact FTAs may have on national public health policies, some


stakeholders in developing countries may welcome the conclusion of such agreements
with OECD countries and consider them major political and economic achievements.49
FTAs are not only IP-related, but can also address such policy and legal matters as
commitments on market access, public procurement, FDI and services, which may
look promising to the public in a developing country that is party to an FTA. At the
same time, the public may widely ignore the complex issue of intellectual property
and its impact on public health.



 It should also be noted that any commitment made to another country under an FTA to


provide higher IP protection than required under the TRIPS Agreement is extended to
all other WTO members, due to the most-favoured-nation treatment clause under
Article 4, TRIPS Agreement.



 In addition to the above-mentioned FTAs, there are a vast number of bilateral


investment treaties (BITs) that define intellectual property as a type of investment,
thus subjecting IP to the general guarantees afforded to investors under the relevant
BIT.50



While the above tendencies may have significant repercussions on the involved countries’
abilities to make use of the TRIPS Agreement’s tools outlined in this Guide, awareness of
these tools should be an issue of major importance to developing country stakeholders.

The most serious FTA restrictions on local autonomy concern only a select number of
developing countries. Those countries having FTAs that include IP obligations may find in
Section 3.5 of this Guide some useful policy options for the implementation of data protection
commitments, thus limiting the impact of data exclusivity regimes on local generic producers.
In addition, not all of the flexibilities discussed in this Guide are necessarily restricted in any
given FTA. Being aware of the flexibilities that exist under the TRIPS Agreement should
enable policy makers to understand the extent to which these flexibilities are or are not limited
under the FTAs relevant to their country.



48 See European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on the TRIPS Agreement and access to medicines,
P6_TA-PROV(2007)0353, para. 9; and European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2007 on Economic
Partnership Agreements, P6_TA-PROV(2007)0204, at para. 45 (available at:
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&reference=P6-TA-2007-0204&language=EN). See
also Abbott/Reichman.
49 Chile, for instance, actively pursued the conclusion of bilateral agreements on market access and trade
liberalization. This policy has reportedly contributed to the reduction of the poverty rate from 47 per cent in 1989
to 20 per cent in 2003. See P. Roffe, “Bilateral agreements and a TRIPS-plus world: the Chile - United States
Free Trade Agreement”, QUNO TRIPS Issues Paper No. 4, Geneva, 2004.
50 See UNCTAD, “Intellectual Property Provisions in International Investment Arrangements”, IIA Monitor No.
1 (2007), International Investment Agreements, UNCTAD document UNCTAD/WEB/ITE/IIA/2007/1 (available
at www.unctad.org/sections/dite_pcbb/docs/webiteiia20071_en.pdf).




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A primary purpose of this Guide is to highlight the importance of maintaining the options
available under the TRIPS Agreement. Additionally, regarding LDCs are concerned, the
Guide will explain to what extent existing domestic TRIPS-plus rules may be suspended, in
order to take full advantage of the flexibilities provided under the TRIPS Agreement.




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13


PART TWO


POLICY OPTIONS FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF
TRIPS FLEXIBILITIES


A. Summary of key policy options under TRIPS


The Guide addresses those TRIPS flexibilities that a government may use to shape the broad
scope of exclusive rights (on medical substances and others) both before a patent is even
issued (pre-grant) and after a patent has been granted (post-grant). Pre-grant flexibilities
constitute a pro-active tool for a government to design generally applicable IP laws, whereas
post-grant flexibilities are usually limited to particular cases where the government considers
an existing monopoly right to be too broad. Governments interested in limiting exclusive
rights on medical substances are advised to pay particular attention to the pre-grant
flexibilities, as these may reduce the need to utilize post-grant tools. This is particularly
important in light of the possible tensions surrounding post-grant tools such as compulsory
licenses and parallel imports. Overall, national policy makers should be aware of and may
wish to take full advantage of both pre- and post-grant flexibilities.

The pre-grant and post grant flexibilities available to policy makers both in developing
countries in general and the LDCs are introduced here in tables 1 and 2 (see next pages).
These policy options are subsequently analyzed in detail (Section B, below).
























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Table 1: TRIPS flexibilities for developing countries in the area of pharmaceuticals

A. Pre-grant Flexibilities



1. No transition period


2. Observation/Opposition Procedures


 Provide for possibilities to challenge patent applications and patents at the patent
office




3. Patentable Subject Matter



 Exclude from patentability:


 Substances existing in nature to the extent that a natural substance has been
extracted from its natural environment (in isolated form)


 New methods of using known products for pharmaceutical purposes (Article
27(3)b, TRIPS, methods of medical treatment)


 Product derivatives that, compared to the original substance, show no
significant improvements in medical efficacy (thus failing to constitute
patentable “new chemical/medical entities”; example Indian Patents Act)



 Consider sui generis regime to promote incremental innovation in new
pharmaceutical uses (“compensatory liability”)




4. Patentability Criteria


a. Novelty
 Adopt strict standards of novelty:


 Worldwide novelty approach
 Oral disclosure destroys novelty
 Novelty-destroying prior art may be derived from several separate documents
 Theoretical accessibility of general public to information
 “Implicit teachings” – implied in expressly published information
 Information in other patent applications filed before priority date


b. Inventive Step
 Identify relevant prior art: what a routine engineer would have reason to consider


pertinent in particular case
 For developing countries with modest inventive capacity, apply high standard of


non-obviousness – assessment criteria:
 High level of ordinary skill in the pertinent art - not limited to domestic


expertise




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


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 Predictability indicates obviousness of the invention
 Structural similarity as prima facie case of obviousness
 Reasonable expectations of success indicates obviousness
 Combination patents - obviousness based on multitude of prior art references;


common sense to combine separate references sufficient to indicate
obviousness


c. Industrial application
 Adopt strict standards of industrial application
 Research tools: only if specific, concrete uses may be identified



Examples


(1) New uses of known pharmaceutical products


First and subsequent medical indications


Product patent Process patent
Carefully examine patentability criteria:
Novelty
Inventive step
Strict non-obviousness standard:
predictability?


State in express terms in
patent law or patentability
guidelines that first
medical use of known
products cannot justify
novelty of a known
product


Industrial applicability
Process might not be capable of industrial
application



Alternative to process patents: exclude through TRIPS Article 27.3(a); introduce
compensatory liability regime to promote new uses of traditional knowledge



(2) Variations in pharmaceutical composition or behaviour/ product derivatives


 Deny product patents on product variations (lack of novelty/Indian approach, or
obviousness/United States approach) unless there are clear and demonstrable
grounds to show that the modified substance produces truly new and significant
therapeutic impacts (new, improved or unexpected properties – United States
approach; significantly enhances efficacy – Indian approach)


 Provide in domestic law that structural similarities are prima facie cases of lack
of novelty or inventive step – put burden of proving novelty or non-obviousness
onto applicant


 Alternative: introduce compensatory liability regime to promote local
incremental innovation



(3) Selection patents


 Deny product patents for lack of novelty or inventive step
 Provide incentives to the development of small scale innovation through


compensatory liability regime


(4) Incremental innovation
 Encourage incremental innovation outside the formal patent system by adopting


utility model protection or a compensatory liability regime
 Provide for compulsory license procedure in case of so-called “blocking patents”




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


16




5. Patent claims construction


 Address claims construction in patent examination guidelines, as opposed to
Patent Act. This provides enhanced flexibility for governments to adapt rules to
changing technological needs


 Combine structural and functional claims where purpose is to limit patent to
particular structure and particular function


 Use-bound structural claims may preserve subsequent uses in public domain,
especially where new uses are protected through compensatory liability regime


 Unlimited structural claims comprise all methods of use, but may result in denial
of novelty of subsequent uses


 Product-by-process claims may be limited in various ways, where considered
necessary to maintain a broad public domain
 Limitation to process patent under Art 28 TRIPS, and
 Limitation to products as actually obtained by the process, combined with a


particular function
 Markush claims refer to a common structure of chemical variants, without


disclosing structure and properties of all claimed alternatives
 Inappropriate where governments seek to preserve broad public domain
 May be softened through additional requirement to refer to particular


common purpose of the claimed compounds
 Jepson claims facilitate the distinction between prior art and inventive


improvements. Appropriate for all governments seeking to avoid trivial patents
 Skuballa claims: recite a multitude of potential uses of a product without


establishing appropriate dosage for each claimed use. Only appropriate where
local scientists have capacity to infer appropriate dosage from the broad patent
claim




6. Patent claims interpretation


 Countries at early stages of development: focus on literal infringement, only
limited expansion of literal patent scope through doctrine of equivalents. Narrow
doctrine of equivalents may help to prevent the expansion of the patent to trivial
improvements


 The more a country is capable of genuine inventive activity, the more flexibly it
should apply the doctrine of equivalents: broader equivalents to protect major
technical or medical advances, narrow equivalents to prevent patenting of small
scale innovation and related blocking effects



7. Disclosure of patented inventions


Improve the effective value of patent application documents:
 Disclosure must be clear to developing country routine engineer
 Introduce best mode requirement
 Introduce requirement to provide information on foreign patent applications and
grants





Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


17



B. Post-grant Flexibilities



1. Exceptions to patent rights


 Include in patent law experimental use exception to use patented invention for
 Research done “on” patent for commercial purposes to reveal new knowledge


about patented invention
 Regarding research “with” patent (using patent as research tool): right to claim a


non-exclusive license (“use and pay” regime)


 Include in patent law an express regulatory review (Bolar) exception
 for acts directly or indirectly related to approval request
 that is expanded to activities undertaken for regulatory review in foreign countries



 Include medical practitioner exception

 Include teaching exception



 Include stockpiling exception for medical emergencies



 Include exception for humanitarian uses




2. Parallel imports


 Adopt international and/ or regional exhaustion doctrine (regarding patents,
trademarks and copyright)


 Ensure quality of imported drugs
 Promote imports of ingredients needed for production




3. Compulsory licenses

Note: Compulsory licenses are only necessary where patent protection is already in place


 Include in patent law an express compulsory license provision as one tool – among
others (e.g. price regulation) – to improve access to medicines


 Accompany compulsory license option with other public-health related patent
flexibilities


 Include review mechanism (independent and more senior body)
 Engage in regional cooperation (regional harmonization)



Article 31bis TRIPS



Requirements Article 31 TRIPS


Not a member of
free trade
agreement with at
least 50% LDCs


Member of free
trade agreement
with at least 50%
LDCs




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


18


Define Grounds


Non- exhaustive:
(1) Violation of competition law
(2) Government/ non-commercial use
(3) Case of national emergency
(4) Other cases of extreme urgency
(5) Abuse of patent right
(6) Public interest
(7) Dependent patent
(8) Local non-working of patent (only
to address public health issue;
controversial)


Exportation of
pharmaceuticals


+51


Prior Negotiations
with Patentee
Reasonable
commercial terms
and conditions
Reasonable period
of time


Not in cases 1 – 4, above As Article 31 +


Adequate
Remuneration


To be paid Not as an
importing country


+


As an exporting country

Export limited to 49 % Export of 100 %


Compulsory
License (CL)
authorizes
production of
amount needed
and to be exported


Not required for
exports within
LDC FTA


Labelling Not required for
exports within
LDC FTA


Website
indicating
quantities to be
exported


Not required for
exports within
LDC FTA




Notification to
TRIPS Council


Not required for
exports within
LDC FTA


Other
Requirements and
Conditions


As an importing country


Re-exportation limited to 49 %
(except where remedy to anti-
competitive conduct)


No re-export at all
(unless new
notification to
TRIPS Council)


Re-export
allowed to other
members of
regional trade
agreement,
without need for
(new)
notification




General
notification to


+



51 “+” indicates that the situation is identical to the situation in a non-Member of a free trade agreement.




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


19


TRIPS Council of
use of system
(Even, if drug is
off-patent)
Notify names &
quantities;
establish lack of
local
production
capacity; confirm
CL if product is
patented


No notification
of imports in
terms of
names/quantities,
lack of
manufacturing
capacities and
CL grant if
import from
within LDC
RTA



4. Control of patent abuse and anti-competitive licensing practices


 Develop detailed domestic rules and policies regarding the control of:
 Abuse, i.e. using IP right beyond its purpose and scope
 Abuse of dominant position, such as:


o Excessive pricing
o Predatory pricing (sale of goods below marginal costs, without justification)
o Refusal to license: under EU law (“essential facilities doctrine”), refusal to


license constitutes abuse, if:
 Licensee intends to develop new products or services
 No objective reason for refusal to license by right holder, and
 Refusal excludes any competition on secondary market (i.e. upstream


patent blocks development of a new downstream product.) Secondary
market – new products in the same market (or even same product in a
different geographical market not covered by parallel patent – approach
taken by Italian Competition Authority)


 Anti-competitive conduct in licensing agreements that restrains competition and,
due to this restraint, impedes technology transfer and dissemination (e.g. under
certain circumstances cross-licensing, and patent pooling)



 By:


 Specifying, in national law, licensing practices and conditions that per se
constitute abuse of intellectual property rights and have an anti-competitive effect
(e.g. exclusive grant back; no-challenge clause; coercive package licensing)


 Defining, in national law:
o legal terms, such as “excessive pricing”, “predatory pricing”, “abuse”
o forms of remedy, such as compulsory licenses and/ or non-enforcement of


patents


5. Protection of Clinical Test Data in National Laws or Bilateral/ Regional Free Trade
Agreements


 Choose one of the two ways to grant marketing approval




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


20


(1) Either by recognizing in national law the approval of an equivalent product of the
same producer in a foreign country


(2) Or by requiring substantive examination of the pharmaceutical substance at issue


 If substantive examination required, adopt a system to protect originator’s test data
 Compensatory liability/ cost-sharing approach: “reliance” permitted, in


exchange of remuneration of the data originator
 Misappropriation approach: “reliance” permitted or
 Data exclusivity approach to be avoided; where mandatory (FTAs), mitigate


by, for instance,
o Restricting exclusivity right to new chemical entities and undisclosed


information
o Limiting term of exclusivity protection to the extent possible
o Waiving data exclusivity in case of compulsory licensing and public health


concerns
o Avoiding linkage between marketing approval and patent rights




6. Opposition Procedure


 Provide for possibility to challenge patents




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


21


Table 2: TRIPS flexibilities for LDCs in the area of pharmaceuticals




A. Pre-grant Flexibilities

1. Use of Transition Periods for LDCs

Patent protection in place No patent protection in place
Pharmaceutical products before 1
January 2016:


- Suspend patent protection or
amend patent law accordingly or


- provide shorter term of protection
- extend effects to already granted


patents
- do not implement mailbox



Other technologies:


- do not cut back on existing
protection;


- make patent provisions fully
TRIPS-compliant by 1 July 2013




Pharmaceutical products before 1 January
2016:


- introduce patents on pharmaceutical
products not before 1 January 2016


- implement mailbox for pharmaceuticals
but mitigate impact through prior user
rights



Other technologies:


- only after 1 July 2013 patent protection
required in all fields of technology
(except pharmaceuticals)




2. Observation/Opposition Procedures

 Provide for possibilities to challenge patent applications and patents at the patent office
3. Patentable Subject Matter



 Exclude from patentability:


 Substances existing in nature to the extent that a natural substance has been
extracted from its natural environment (in isolated form)


 New methods of using known products for pharmaceutical purposes (Article
27(3)b, TRIPS, methods of medical treatment)


 Product derivatives that, compared to the original substance, show no
significant improvements in medical efficacy (thus failing to constitute
patentable “new chemical/medical entities”; example Indian Patents Act)



 Consider sui generis regime to promote incremental innovation in new
pharmaceutical uses (“compensatory liability”)





Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


22



4. Patentability Criteria


a. Novelty
 Adopt strict standards of novelty:


 Worldwide novelty approach
 Oral disclosure destroys novelty
 Novelty-destroying prior art may be derived from several separate


documents
 Theoretical accessibility of general public to information
 “Implicit teachings” – implied in expressly published information
 Information in other patent applications filed before priority date



b. Inventive Step


 Identify relevant prior art: what a routine engineer would have reason to consider
pertinent in particular case


 Apply high standard of non-obviousness – assessment criteria:
 High level of ordinary skill in the pertinent art - not limited to domestic


expertise
 Predictability indicates obviousness of the invention
 Structural similarity as prima facie case of obviousness
 Reasonable expectations of success indicates obviousness
 Combination patents - obviousness based on multitude of prior art


references; common sense to combine separate references sufficient to
indicate obviousness



c. Industrial application


 Adopt strict standard on industrial application
 Research tools: only if specific, concrete uses may be identified



Examples


(1) New uses of known pharmaceutical products
 Exclude both product (lack of novelty) and process (TRIPS Article 27.3(a))


patents in patent law or patentability guidelines; consider introducing
compensatory liability regime to promote new uses of traditional knowledge



(2) Variations in pharmaceutical composition or behaviour/ product derivatives


 Deny product patents on product variations (lack of novelty/Indian approach, or
obviousness/United States approach), unless there are clear and demonstrable
grounds to show that the modified substance produces truly new and significant
therapeutic impacts (new, improved or unexpected properties – United States
approach; significantly enhances efficacy – Indian approach)


 Provide in domestic law that structural similarities are prima facie cases of lack
of novelty or inventive step – put burden of proving novelty or non-obviousness
onto applicant


 Alternative: introduce compensatory liability regime to promote local
incremental innovation



(3) Selection patents


 Deny product patents for lack of novelty or inventive step
 Provide incentives to the development of small scale innovation through




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


23


compensatory liability regime


(4) Incremental innovation
 Encourage incremental innovation outside the formal patent system by adopting


utility model protection or a compensatory liability regime
 Provide for compulsory license in case of so-called “blocking patents”




5. Patent claims construction


 Address claims construction in patent examination guidelines, as opposed to
Patent Act. This provides enhanced flexibility for governments to adapt rules to
changing technological needs


 Combine structural and functional claims where purpose is to limit patent to
particular structure and particular function


 Use-bound structural claims may preserve subsequent uses in public domain,
especially where new uses are protected through compensatory liability regime


 Unlimited structural claims comprise all methods of use, but may result in denial
of novelty of subsequent uses


 Product-by-process claims may be limited in various ways, where considered
necessary to maintain a broad public domain
 Limitation to process patent under Art 28 TRIPS, and
 Limitation to products as actually obtained by the process, combined with a


particular function
 Markush claims refer to a common structure of chemical variants, without


disclosing structure and properties of all claimed alternatives
 Inappropriate where governments seek to preserve broad public domain.
 May be softened through additional requirement to refer to particular


common purpose of the claimed compounds
 Jepson claims facilitate the distinction between prior art and inventive


improvements. Appropriate for all governments seeking to avoid trivial patents
 Skuballa claims: recite a multitude of potential uses of a product without


establishing appropriate dosage for each claimed use. Only appropriate where
local scientists have capacity to infer appropriate dosage from the broad patent
claim




6. Patent claims interpretation


 Countries at early stages of development: focus on literal infringement, only
limited expansion of literal patent scope through doctrine of equivalents. Narrow
doctrine of equivalents may help to prevent the expansion of the patent to trivial
improvements


 The more a country is capable of genuine inventive activity, the more flexibly it
should apply the doctrine of equivalents: broader equivalents to protect major
technical or medical advances, narrow equivalents to prevent patenting of small
scale innovation and related blocking effects



7. Disclosure of patented inventions


Improve the effective value of patent application documents:




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


24


 Disclosure must be clear to LDC routine engineer
 Introduce best mode requirement
 Introduce requirement to provide information on foreign patent applications and
grants





B. Post-grant Flexibilities


1. Exceptions to Patent Rights


 Adopt a scientific research/experimental use exception to use patented inventions for:
 Research done “on” patent for commercial purposes to reveal new knowledge


about patented invention
 Regarding research “with” patent (using patent as research tool): right to claim a


non-exclusive license (“use and pay” regime)
Implement transition period (non-availability of patents will make exceptions
redundant)



 Include in patent law an express regulatory review (Bolar) exception


 for acts directly or indirectly related to approval request
 that is expanded to activities undertaken for regulatory review in foreign countries



 Include medical practitioner exception

 Include teaching exception



 Include stockpiling exception for medical emergencies



 Include exception for humanitarian uses




2. Parallel imports


 Adopt international and/or regional exhaustion doctrine (regarding patents, trademarks
and copyright)


 Ensure quality of imported drugs
 Promote imports of ingredients needed for production




3. Compulsory licenses

Note: Compulsory licenses are only necessary where patent protection is in place


 Include in patent law an express compulsory license provision as one tool – among
others (e.g. price regulation; “buy out” of foreign rights) – to improve access to
medicines


 Accompany compulsory license option with other public-health related patent
flexibilities


 Include review mechanism (independent and more senior body)
 Engage in regional cooperation (regional harmonization)





Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


25


Article 31bis TRIPS


Requirements Article 31 TRIPS


Not a member of
free trade
agreement with at
least 50% LDCs


Member of free
trade agreement
with at least 50%
LDCs


Define Grounds


Non- exhaustive:
(1) Violation of competition law
(2) Government/ non-commercial use
(3) Case of national emergency
(4) Other cases of extreme urgency
(5) Abuse of patent right
(6) Public interest
(7) Dependent patent
(8) Local non-working of patent (only
to address public health issue;
controversial)


Exportation of
pharmaceuticals


+52


Prior Negotiations
with Patentee
Reasonable
commercial terms
and conditions
Reasonable period
of time


Not in cases 1 – 4, above As Article 31 +


Adequate
Remuneration


To be paid Not as an
importing country


+


As an exporting country


Export limited to 49 % Export of 100 %
Indicate in CL
amount to be
exported


Not required for
exports within
LDC FTA


Labeling Not required for
exports within
LDC FTA


Website Not required for
exports within
LDC FTA




Notification to
TRIPS Council


Not required for
exports within
LDC FTA


As an importing country


Other
Requirements and
Conditions


Re-exportation limited to 49 %
(except where remedy to anti-
competitive conduct)


No re-export at all
(unless new
notification to
TRIPS Council)


Re-export
allowed to other
members of
regional trade
agreement
(RTA), without
need for new



52 “+” indicates that the situation is identical to the situation in a non-Member of a free trade agreement.




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


26


notification


Presumption of
lack of local
production
capacity – no need
for general
notification to use
system as importer


+


But need to notify
names & quantities
(even if drug is off-
patent!); confirm
grant of CL if
product is patented


No notification
of imports in
terms of
names/quantities
and CL grant if
import from
within LDC
RTA






4. Control of patent abuse and anti-competitive licensing practices


 Develop detailed domestic rules and policies on the control of:
 Abuse, i.e. using IP right beyond its purpose and scope
 Abuse of dominant position, such as:


o Excessive pricing
o Predatory pricing (sale of goods below marginal costs, without justification)
o Refusal to license: under EU law (“essential facilities doctrine”), refusal to


license constitutes abuse, if:
 Licensee intends to develop new products or services;
 No objective reason for refusal to license by right holder, and
 Refusal excludes any competition on secondary market (i.e. upstream


patent blocks development of a new downstream product.) Secondary
market – new products in the same market (or even same product in a
different geographical market not covered by parallel patent - approach
taken by Italian Competition Authority)


 Anti-competitive conduct in licensing agreements that restrains competition and,
due to this restraint, impedes technology transfer and dissemination (e.g. under
certain circumstances cross-licensing, and patent pooling)





 By:
 Specifying, in national law, licensing practices and conditions that per se


constitute abuse of intellectual property rights and have an anti-competitive effect
(e.g. exclusive grant back; no-challenge clause; coercive package licensing)


 Defining, in national law:
o legal terms, such as “excessive pricing”, “predatory pricing”, “abuse”
o forms of remedy, such as compulsory licenses and/ or non-enforcement of


patents




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


27



5. Protection of Clinical Test Data in National Laws or Bilateral/ Regional Free Trade
Agreements


 Choose one of the two ways to grant marketing approval
(1) Either by recognizing in national law the approval of an equivalent product of the


same producer in a foreign country
(2) Or by requiring substantive examination of the pharmaceutical substance at issue



 If substantive examination required, adopt a system to protect originator’s test data


 Misappropriation approach: “reliance” permitted;
 Compensatory liability/ cost-sharing approach: “reliance” permitted, in exchange


of remuneration of the data originator (if main policy objective is to attract foreign
investors); or


 Data exclusivity approach to be avoided; where mandatory (FTAs), mitigate by,
for instance,
o Restricting exclusivity right to new chemical entities and undisclosed


information
o Limiting term of exclusivity protection to the extent possible
o Waiving data exclusivity in case of compulsory licensing and public health


concerns
o Avoiding linkage between marketing approval and patent rights




6. Opposition Procedure


 Provide for possibility to challenge patents




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


28




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


29




B. ANALYSIS OF TRIPS FLEXIBILITIES


1. Introduction


The WTO’s TRIPS Agreement resulted from the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade
Negotiations and entered into force on 1 January 1995. The TRIPS Agreement is one of the
major treaties under the overarching WTO Agreement.53 It establishes the minimum standards
for intellectual property protection that WTO members must implement in their legal regimes
and also provides governments with a number of tools to design domestic intellectual property
laws which are conducive to the promotion of access to medicines through importation and
local production of drugs. These tools, which were subsequently reiterated by the Doha
Ministerial Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health of 2001, are discussed in
this Section B of Part II of the Guide. In order to facilitate a comprehensive understanding of
the tools, this introductory section will explain some basics aspects of the TRIPS Agreement.


1.1 Objectives of the TRIPS Agreement


According to Article 7 of the TRIPS Agreement, “the protection and enforcement of
intellectual property rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and
to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and
users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare,
and to a balance of rights and obligations.” In addition, WTO members may, when
implementing TRIPS rules, “adopt measures necessary to protect public health” and other
public policy objectives, “provided that such measures are consistent” with the provisions of
the TRIPS Agreement (Article 8.1, TRIPS). The preamble to the TRIPS Agreement
recognizes “the underlying public policy objectives of national systems for the protection of
intellectual property, including developmental and technological objectives.” 54 The
importance of public health policies was reiterated in the 2001 Ministerial Declaration on the
TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, where members agreed that “the TRIPS Agreement
does not and should not prevent members from taking measures to protect public health”.
While reasserting their commitment to the TRIPS Agreement, members recognized that “the
Agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO
members’ right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for
all.” 55 The TRIPS Agreement is based on the assumption that the implementation and
enforcement of minimum levels of IPRs will encourage owners of IP to transfer technologies

53 See Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization and its annexes (Annex 1A: Multilateral
Agreements on Trade in Goods; Annex 1B: General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS); Annex 1C:
Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS); Annex 2: Dispute Settlement
Understanding; Annex 3: Trade Policy Review Mechanism; Annex 4: Plurilateral Trade Agreements). All WTO
agreements available at http://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/legal_e.htm.
54 See preamble of the TRIPS Agreement.
55 See paragraph 4 of the Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, WTO document
WT/MIN(01)/DEC/2 of 20 November 2001 [hereinafter Doha Declaration].




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


30


to others (e.g. through licensing agreements or foreign direct investment). However, research
on whether or not this is the case is inconclusive.56 Many experts have emphasized that in
order to effectively promote technology transfer and innovation, IPRs need to be adapted to
the respective country’s level of development and technological capabilities.57

Thus, the protection and enforcement of IPRs under the TRIPS Agreement should not be an
end in itself, but should, reward inventors for their efforts, thereby promoting innovation and
dissemination of technology for the benefit of society as a whole. Governments need to strike
a balance between the rights and interests of inventors on the one hand, and their competitors
and the public on the other. In the pharmaceutical sector, this implies the design of national IP
systems that will encourage inventors’ genuine innovative activity while also ensuring that
scientific knowledge is made widely available and that pharmaceutical products are not priced
beyond the reach of those who need them. Where such balance is found, IPRs will work “to
the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge”, as mandated by
the TRIPS Agreement (see above). To this end, the TRIPS Agreement provides policymakers
with some important legal tools, the explanation of which is the endeavour of this guide.


1.2 Minimum standards of IP protection


The TRIPS Agreement obligates members to provide for minimum standards of IP protection
in their domestic legislation in a manner consistent with their existing legal systems, as
required by Article 1.1. Members may, but are not required to, go beyond such minimum
standards. For example, the TRIPS Agreement (Article 33) requires all members to provide
for a term of patent protection of 20 years counted from the date of filing the patent
application. Members are free to grant 21 or more years of patent protection in their national
laws, but must not limit protection to anything less than 20 years. As another example, TRIPS
(Article 31) obligates governments, when issuing compulsory licenses, to respect certain
procedural requirements.58 Beyond these procedural minimum standards of protection, there
are no substantive restrictions on the discretion of governments to freely determine the
grounds upon which a compulsory license may be granted to allow the patented invention to
be used without authorization of the patent holder.

The TRIPS provisions on minimum standards of protection encompass the following IPR
categories:


 Copyright and Related Rights;

56 For an overview of different studies, see UNCTAD-ICTSD Policy Discussion Paper, pp. 87-88.
57 See, for example, L. Kim, “Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Rights: Lessons from Korea’s
Experience”, UNCTAD-ICTSD Issue Paper No. 2, Geneva, 2003 hereinafter UNCTAD-ICTSD Issue Paper No.
2; K. Maskus, “Encouraging International Technology Transfer”, UNCTAD-ICTSD Issue Paper No. 7, Geneva,
2004 (both available at http://www.iprsonline.org/unctadictsd/projectoutputs.htm#top); Commission on
Intellectual Property Rights, pp. 24 ff. Concerns about broad exclusive rights and their impact on competition
and innovation have also been expressed in developed countries; see, e.g., United States Federal Trade
Commission, “To Promote Innovation: The Proper Balance of Competition and Patent Law and Policy”, Report,
2003 (executive summary available at http://xml.coverpages.org/FTC-InnovationReportSumm.pdf).
58 For instance, issuance of compulsory licenses shall be considered on a case-by-case basis; shall in general be
preceded by unsuccessful negotiations for a voluntary license; shall be non-exclusive; and shall be compensated
to the right holder through adequate remuneration. For the complete list of mandatory procedural requirements,
see Article 31, TRIPS Agreement.




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


31


 Trademarks;
 Geographical Indications;
 Industrial Designs;
 Patents;
 Layout-Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits; and
 Protection of Undisclosed Information (in particular pharmaceutical test data).


In addition, the TRIPS Agreement states that members reserve the right to prevent IPR abuses
in general and control anti-competitive practices in licensing agreements in particular.


1.3 Leeway in implementation


WTO members are obligated to “give effect” to the TRIPS provisions on minimum standards
(Article 1.1, first sentence, TRIPS Agreement), i.e. to incorporate them in their domestic legal
systems and practice (“implementation”). Members “shall be free to determine the appropriate
method” of implementation (Article 1.1, third sentence), and therefore they may choose to
either recognize the text of the TRIPS Agreement as part of their domestic legal system
(“monist” approach) or adopt specific statutes or administrative rules to implement the
Agreement (“dualist” approach).59

Irrespective of a country’s approach to implementation, most TRIPS provisions on IPR
minimum standards are drafted in very general terms and require further elaboration in order
to become operational. For instance, patents may only be granted to inventions that are “new,
involve an inventive step and are capable of industrial application” (Article 27.1, TRIPS
Agreement). In implementing this provision, every member will have to reflect these
minimum requirements in its domestic law and practice. However, the TRIPS Agreement
does not contain any definition of novelty, inventive step or industrial applicability. 60
Members are free to define in their domestic laws when and how an invention meets these
criteria. For example, each member may decide whether new uses of a known substance fulfil
the novelty requirement or not (for details, see Section 2.4.2.1).

Another example of the leeway available to members for the implementation of the TRIPS
minimum standards may be found in the provision on patent exceptions (Article 30, TRIPS
Agreement). This provision contains a multitude of undefined legal terms (i.e. “limited
exceptions” that do not “unreasonably” conflict with a “normal exploitation” of the patent and
do not “unreasonably” conflict with the “legitimate” interests of the patent owner (for details,
see Section 3.1). In order for this provision to become operational all of the terms will have to
be defined.



59 For details, see UNCTAD-ICTSD, “Resource Book on TRIPS and Development”, Cambridge University
Press, 2005 hereinafter UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book
(available at http://www.iprsonline.org/unctadictsd/ResourceBookIndex.htm), Chapter 2 (especially pages 19-20
and 25-27).
60 The notions of inventive step and industrial applicability have traditionally been used in European countries.
In order to accommodate United States terminology, the TRIPS Agreement specifies that its terms “inventive
step” and “capable of industrial application” may be deemed by a Member to be synonymous with the terms
“non-obvious” and “useful”, as traditionally used in the United States (see footnote 5 to Article 27, TRIPS
Agreement).




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A third example pertains to the use of compulsory licenses under TRIPS, which is not limited
to cases of national emergencies or other circumstances of extreme urgency.61 Governments
are free to authorize a compulsory license on other grounds, e.g. for the promotion of the
public interest in areas such as security, the environment, public health or economic
development. On the other hand, governments are also free to forgo their rights and subject
the availability of compulsory licenses to certain substantive requirements.62


1.4 Striking a balance between exclusive rights and public access


The above examples show that members have considerable leeway (generally referred to as
“flexibilities”) when implementing TRIPS provisions, so long as they apply the minimum
standards expressly stipulated in the TRIPS Agreement. In essence, implementation of
undefined TRIPS language provides an opportunity for members to tailor their laws and
policies to strike a desired balance between the exclusive right promoted by the respective
IPR at issue, and the area remaining outside the scope of exclusivity (i.e. the “public domain”).
Governments will have to decide where the dividing line between these areas should be drawn,
for example, whether to promote broad exclusive rights and a limited public domain, or vice
versa. Shifting the balance in favour of one of these will automatically reduce the scope of the
other. Given that foreign IP right holders must be provided treatment that is no less favourable
than national or other foreign right holders, (Articles 3 and 4 of the TRIPS Agreement), the
challenging task for governments is determining which approach is most appropriate for their
country’s efforts to promote technological innovation and technology transfer. At the same
time, they must ensure the pursuit of other policy goals in such diverse areas as public health
and access to scientific and educational data, information and materials.

As illustrated by existing UNCTAD research, there is no “one-size-fits-all” model for striking
this balance.63 Instead, one of the main determining factors is the level of technological
development of affected local industries. 64 The need to take the level of technological
development into account is exemplified by the fact that when many European countries, as
well as the United States, were in the early stage of technological development, they had
fairly low levels of IPR protection, which would not necessarily meet many of today’s TRIPS
minimum standards.65 These countries gradually raised the strength of their IPR protection as



61 In the case of national emergencies or other circumstances of extreme urgency, the usual requirement of prior
unsuccessful negotiations for a voluntary license may be waived under domestic law.
62 This is the case in some FTAs, which limit the substantive grounds for compulsory licenses, thus going
beyond the TRIPS minimum standards of IP protection. See, for example, the United States-Jordan FTA (Article
4, paragraph 20). Other such FTAs are United States–Australia; United States–Singapore; and United States–
Viet Nam. Later US FTAs no longer contain this limitation.
63 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Policy Discussion Paper.
64 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Issue Paper No. 2, in particular on p. 25.
65 For instance, United States copyright law historically contained a “manufacturing clause”, which originally
limited copyright protection to works printed in the United States. The purpose was to promote the local printing
industry. Such measures would nowadays be inconsistent with the TRIPS national treatment obligation, which
requires Members to treat foreign IP right holders no less favourably than domestic right holders (Article 3,
TRIPS). As another example, Switzerland, today a dedicated supporter of effective IP protection, prohibited
patents between 1802 and 1888, due to the fact that free access to new technologies was thought to be more
beneficial to its gradually developing industry than exclusive rights. As far as pharmaceutical products are
concerned, Switzerland did not introduce patent protection until 1977. See UNCTAD-ICTSD Policy Discussion
Paper, pp. 34, 36, and footnote 37. Such a policy would nowadays constitute an infringement of the TRIPS




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their local technological capacities evolved. Such a strategy may be explained by the fact that
in the early stages of development, indigenous learning and technology transfer in a given
industry depend to a large extent on processes such as reverse engineering 66 and the
duplicative imitation and adaptation to local conditions of mature foreign products. Broad
IPRs will make these informal channels of learning more difficult.67

Limiting exclusive rights to the minimum required under TRIPS would result in a wider
public domain, one in which developing country researchers and industry would be able to
draw on existing technological know-how for purposes of follow-on innovation. As the local
industry’s capacity gradually moves from duplicative and creative imitation to incremental
and larger–scale innovation, local industry is likely to become more interested in protecting
their intellectual assets and recouping rising expenses for R&D investment. This evolution
was clearly experienced by India, where the local pharmaceutical producers have
considerably increased their R&D as well as patenting activities in recent years.68

It follows that, in order to promote the development of indigenous capacities, governments
may wish to vary their approach to TRIPS implementation, tailoring the strength of their IPR
protection to the level of technological development that their local industries have attained.
Where governments seek to promote domestic technological learning through adaptation and
follow-on innovation, they may elect to limit exclusive rights to the required TRIPS minimum
standards and preserve a relatively broader public domain; where a government considers
some key domestic industries to have reached a level of technological sophistication requiring
more protection, it can expand the scope and depth of IP protection, provided that foreigners
receive treatment no less favourable than domestic entities. The TRIPS flexibilities provide
important tools that allow a government to make such considerations. Sections 2 and 3, below,
will discuss these tools in the context of public health and local pharmaceutical production.



obligation to provide for patent rights for both products and processes in all fields of technology (see Article 27.1,
TRIPS).
66 Reverse engineering refers to the practice of taking a product apart to examine and understand its functioning
and process of manufacture. It typically leads to improvements and lower costs of production. See, for example,
P. Samuelson and S. Scotchmer, “The Law & Economics of Reverse Engineering”, Yale Law Journal, May 2002,
pp. 1575-1663.
67 The TRIPS Agreement (Article 28) provides the patent owner with an exclusive right to exclude others from,
inter alia, the act of making the patented product or process. This includes making of the patented product
through reverse engineering. To the extent that such reverse engineering is done only for non-commercial
purposes (e.g. for scientific research and experimental purposes), it is still consistent with the TRIPS Agreement.
But the point here is that engaging in reverse engineering for the promotion of domestic industries will
necessarily imply a commercial aspect. The wholesale imitation of the patented product for commercial purposes
cannot even be authorized under the broadest experimental use exception, see infra Section 3.1.2.
68 See B. Dhar and K.M. Gopakumar, “Post-2005 TRIPS scenario in patent protection in the pharmaceutical
sector: The case of the generic pharmaceutical industry in India”, UNCTAD-ICTSD Regional Research Paper,
November 2006, pp. 33 ff.
(available at http://www.iprsonline.org/resources/docs/Dhar%20Indian%20Pharma%20April%202007.pdf).
According to these authors, the major pharmaceutical firms in India have been increasing the shares of their sales
turnover that are subsequently allocated to their R&D budgets. For example, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd.,
which is a leader in the market, spent 2 per cent of its sales turnover on R&D in 1995, but 12.3 per cent in 2004
(ibid., Table 8). Consequently, Indian firms have also increased their international patent filings. The leading
firm, Ranbaxy Laboratories, Ltd., filed only 14 international patents in 1999, but 259 in 2005 (ibid., Table 13).




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1.5 Overview of TRIPS obligations relevant in the context of local
pharmaceutical production


The TRIPS Agreement introduced the obligation to make patents available “for any invention,
whether products or processes, in all fields of technology” (Article 27.1) for the first time at
the multilateral level. Unlike many industrialized and developing countries were able to do in
the past,69 WTO members today may no longer exclude pharmaceutical products from patent
protection, and must provide instead the pharmaceutical industry with the possibility of
obtaining patents not only on pharmaceutical processes but also on products.

A granted patent confers specified exclusive rights on its holder. The patent is a public
authorization that excludes others from the acts of making, using, offering for sale, selling, or
importing a protected product for at least 20 years.70 Thus, a patented medicine may be
produced, sold, and imported only by the patent holder or with his/her authorization. Third
party producers or importers are obligated to seek a license from the patent holder. Due to the
fact that the use of the patented substance is subject to the patentee’s consent, unauthorized
third parties engaging in the manufacturing of similar products risk patent infringement suits.
The granting of pharmaceutical patents may therefore entail considerable challenges for
generic drugs producers. A patent granted on the pharmaceutical substance is therefore
usually considered to be a more serious obstacle for generic producers than a patent granted
for the process of making or using a drug. Box 1 provides a basic overview of the different
scopes of product and process patent protection under the TRIPS Agreement.


Box 1: Product and process patents and the implications for generic pharmaceutical
production

The scope of a pharmaceutical patent largely depends on whether the patent as granted covers
the product itself, the way of making it, the way of using it, or some combination of these
elements. Patent law formally distinguishes between products (such as machines,
manufactures, or composition of matter) and processes (also termed methods), which are
comprised of techniques and behavioural engagements expressed as a series of steps. This
distinction is reflected in Article 28.1 of the TRIPS Agreement (with paragraph (a) providing
minimum standards of product patent protection, whereas paragraph (b) contains minimum
standards of process patent protection). However, an inventor “can claim the invention as he
wishes” and may “write claims towards the same invention so that they describe it in terms of
(1) a product, (2) a method of using that product, (3) a method of making that product.”71
What the inventor obtains in the end typically depends on which of those claims survive the
tests of novelty and non-obviousness.72

The most important implications for generic producers arise when originator drugs are
protected through patents that cover the drugs in themselves (i.e. product patents). Article



69 For example, Germany excluded pharmaceutical products from patentability until 1968; India did the same
until 2005.
70 See Article 28.1, TRIPS Agreement. Rights of importation, distribution, use and sale of a protected product
may only be relied upon until they are “exhausted” (for details, see infra Section 3.2). Comparable rights are
conferred on the holder of a process patent, see Article 28.2, TRIPS Agreement.
71 J.R. Thomas, “Pharmaceutical Patent Law”, BNA Books, Washington, D.C., 2005 hereinafter Thomas, pp.
30-31.
72 Ibid.




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28.1(a) of the TRIPS Agreement requires members to provide patent holders with the right to
exclude others from the acts of, inter alia, making and using the protected product. The terms
of “making” and “using” are not further defined. There seems to be consensus, in the member
States of the European Patent Convention (EPC), that a product patent encompasses all
possible methods of making that product, even where not expressly mentioned in the
product claim.73 This wide protection may be based on the broad reference in Article 28.1(a)
of the TRIPS Agreement to “making”, which must be distinguished from making the product
through a particular process, as provided under Article 28.1(b), TRIPS Agreement (i.e.
process patents, see below). By contrast, State practices vary with respect to the extent to
which the methods of using a patented product are protected.74 Members are free to limit
protection to those uses of the product expressly referred to in the patent application (“use-
bound” product claims).75 In all cases, a product patent granted on a pharmaceutical substance
will prevent generic producers from making that substance without the patent holder’s
authorization. By contrast, the granting of a process patent (Article 28.1(b), TRIPS
Agreement) for a drug would cover a particular way of making and using that drug,76 leaving
the generic producer free to reverse engineer the product in order to learn how to make it
through a different process.77 In addition, the generic producer would be allowed to use the



73 See M. Scuffi, “The construction of product-by-process claims”, in The construction of product-by-process
claims, 11th European Patent Judges’ Symposium, Copenhagen, Official Journal of the European Patent Office
2003, Special Edition, No. 2 hereinafter Scuffi, pp. 60-74; see also UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 419;
with respect to German law, see J. Ensthaler, “Gewerblicher Rechtsschutz und Urheberrecht”, second edition,
Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2003 [hereinafter Ensthaler], p. 120. For the United Kingdom, see the House of
Lords Decision in Generics (United Kingdom) Limited and others v H Lundbeck A/S, [2009] UKHL 12, holding
that a patent claim to a single product includes all methods of making that product, even if the description and
specifications cover only one method and other methods emerge only at a later stage. See summary by L.
Lodenquai of Deeth Williams Wall LLP, available at http://www.dww.com/?p=1430: “[…] The House of Lords
(like the Court of Appeal) recognised there may be initial concerns over the ‘inherent breadth of a product
claim’, but the statutory framework of the United Kingdom Patents Act and the European Patent Convention, as
well as European Patent Office jurisprudence (such as Exxon) is clear. Where a product claim satisfies the
requirements of patentability (i.e., it is novel and non-obvious), the technical contribution to the art is the
product itself and not the process for making it, even if that process was the only inventive step. Provided that the
specification sufficiently explains to the person skilled in the art how to make the product, it does not matter that
there may be other methods of making it. […]”.
74 For more details, see below, Section 2.5 on patent claims construction.
75 According to Scuffi, p. 64, this is the current practice in Italy. The same approach has been adopted in the EU
Biopatent Directive (98/44/EC), see in particular its Article 5 (3), which requires applicants for patents on gene
sequences to disclose the industrial application of the gene sequence in the patent application, thereby limiting
the scope of the patent to the expressly disclosed uses.
76 This follows from the language in Article 28.1 (b) of the TRIPS Agreement on process patents:


“1. A patent shall confer on its owner the following exclusive rights:
(a) […]


 where the subject matter of a patent is a process, to prevent third parties not having the owner’s consent
from the act of using the process, and from the acts of: using, offering for sale, selling, or importing for
these purposes at least the product obtained directly by that process.”


Here, “using the process” refers to the making of a product (method-of-making claims), while “using […] the
product obtained directly by that process” refers to the use of the product (method-of-use claims).
77 In this context, Article 34 of the TRIPS Agreement establishes an important obligation for members regarding
the allocation of the burden of proof. In proceedings related to an alleged infringement of a process patent, the
claimant (i.e. the patent holder) must establish that the defendant has infringed his process patent by using the
patented process to make a particular product. Taking account of the difficulty for the patent holder to prove
elements that fall into the sphere of the defendant, the TRIPS Agreement establishes that any identical products,
produced without authorization by the right holder, shall be deemed to have been obtained by the patented
process, unless proved otherwise by the defendant. This assumption applies both if the product obtained by the
patented process is new (the newer the product, the less likely it is for the defendant to have developed an
alternative production process), or if the likelihood that the identical product was made through the protected




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product in ways not covered by the process patent, for example to administer the drug
differently from what is described in the process patent claims, provided the country uses a
narrow doctrine of equivalents.78

Having outlined the potential impact of pharmaceutical patents on generic pharmaceutical
production, a number of qualifications should be made. First, under TRIPS rules, LDCs enjoy
transition periods for the implementation of TRIPS obligations. During these transition
periods, LDC members are not obligated to make patent protection available for
pharmaceutical products and related processes or to enforce them. This important
qualification will be discussed in detail in Section 2.1 on LDC transition periods.

Second, for those LDCs not taking advantage of their transition periods, and for developing
countries, the obligation to make patents available does not necessarily mean that a patent will
actually be granted for each patent application. A country’s national patent office will have to
examine whether each specific invention (e.g. a specific pharmaceutical product) meets the
three patentability criteria of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability, as defined in
domestic law, and may refuse the grant of a patent where this is not the case.

Third, patents remain territorial by nature, meaning that a pharmaceutical product that is
protected in country A does not enjoy patent protection in country B unless a national patent
has also been granted in country B. Moreover, country B’s evaluation of patent standards is
usually independent of that which is applied in country A (principle of independence of
patents, see Paris Convention, Article 4bis (1), as incorporated into TRIPS by Article 2.1 of
the TRIPS Agreement). Pharmaceutical companies do not always seek patent protection in
every country, due to, inter alia, a perceived lack of market size. Therefore, it is possible that
in some countries, despite the existence of a national patent law, certain pharmaceutical
substances remain off-patent and may be freely used, made and imported in that country.
Should the original inventor change his/her mind seek patent protection at a later point, the
application would be rejected for lack of novelty if the substance at issue has been made
available to the public prior to the filing of the patent application.

The TRIPS Agreement also obligates WTO members to provide some protection for clinical
trial data submitted to governments or their regulatory agencies (see Article 39.3 of the TRIPS
Agreement). This is particularly applicable to safety and efficacy test data submitted by
manufacturers of pharmaceutical products for the purpose of receiving the approval by a drug
regulatory authority to market the drug in question. It is important to note that such test data
protection is not necessarily or inherently exclusive in nature (for details, see Section 3.5)



process is substantial and the patent holder through reasonable efforts is incapable of determining that their
process was actually used. For details, see UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, pp. 496 ff.
78 Note that a broad application of the doctrine of equivalents could limit competitors’ possibilities of making
and using the pharmaceutical substance: manufacturing processes and methods of using the drug that are
considered equivalent to the initially patented processes would be barred from the unauthorized use by
competitors. See South Centre, “A Guide to Pharmaceutical Patents”, editor C. Correa, Vol. I, Geneva, 2008, p.
144 [hereinafter South Centre Guide]. For more details on the doctrine of equivalents, see below, Section 2.6 on
patent claims interpretation. Even under a broad doctrine of equivalents, however, process patent claims would
not encompass all possible ways of making and using a product (including unknown ones), as opposed to the
scope of product patents.




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2. Pre-grant flexibilities


2.1 Full use of LDC transition periods


2.1.1 Background


The first option for governments seeking to influence the scope of exclusive rights in medical
products has generally been to refuse to grant patents on pharmaceutical products. This option
is no longer available for developing country members.79 For LDC members, the TRIPS
Agreement originally provided for a transition period lasting until 1 January 2006 for the
implementation of TRIPS obligations (Article 66.1). However, this period has been extended
in two different ways, one affecting the implementation of the TRIPS provisions in general,
and the other one relating to the protection of pharmaceutical products, in particular.

General extension of TRIPS implementation

LDC members have been granted an extended transition period until 1 July 2013 for the
general application of the TRIPS provisions (with the exception of the obligation to respect
national and most-favoured nation treatment). 80 This general extension is limited by the
requirement that any changes in a country’s “laws, regulations and practice” made during the
transition period shall not result in a lesser degree of TRIPS consistency (hereinafter referred
to as the “no-roll-back requirement”). Full consistency in this respect refers to the minimum
standards of the TRIPS Agreement. A “lesser degree” of consistency thus means any
reduction of existing IP protection below the minimum standards, either by lessening the
strength of exclusive rights in legislation that was previously TRIPS-compliant, or by rolling
back TRIPS-inconsistent legislation even further. Thus, any amendments to existing IP laws
or regulations that would have this effect are precluded.



The Decision on the 2013 Extension, in paragraph 1, authorizes members to suspend the
application of the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, such as the provisions on patents. At
the same time, however, the no-roll-back requirement also applies to existing, IP-related
practice (paragraph 5). “Practice” in this sense refers to the application through courts and the
administration (e.g. IP offices) of a country’s IP laws and regulations. Read together,
paragraphs 1 and 5 of the Decision on the 2013 Extension mean that LDCs are required to
maintain their general IP laws, regulations and practice as they were before the start of the
additional transition period (i.e. 1 January 2006). However, they are exempted from the
obligation to make their laws, regulations and related practices fully TRIPS-compliant before

79 Most developing country WTO members had until 1 January 2000 to comply with the obligations under the
TRIPS Agreement (Article 65.2, TRIPS Agreement). Those developing countries that on 1 January 2000 did not
provide product patent protection to certain areas of technology (particularly including pharmaceutical products)
were granted an additional period of 5 years (until 1 January 2005) to introduce such protection (Article 65.4,
TRIPS Agreement).
80 See Decision of the Council for TRIPS, “Extension of the Transition Period Under Article 66.1 For Least-
Developed Country Members”, 29 November 2005 hereinafter Decision on the 2013 Extension (available at:
http://docsonline.wto.org/imrd/directdoc.asp?DDFDocuments/t/IP/C/40.doc). The obligation to respect national
and most-favoured nation treatment essentially means that LDC Members may not deny IP protection to the
citizens of certain Members if they grant the same to their own citizens or to citizens of any other country. See
Articles 3-5, TRIPS Agreement.




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2013, to the extent that they have not already done so. Where an LDC’s IP-related practice
(e.g. through continuous jurisprudence) has in the past excluded certain areas of technology
from patentability, or applied particularly large exceptions to a particular technology, this
LDC may continue such practice, despite the obligations under TRIPS to make patent
protection available in all fields of technology, without discrimination between different fields
of technology. On the other hand, the same country may not disapply patent protection to
areas of technology previously covered by its law.81 While the no-roll-back requirement sets
important limitations for LDCs’ industrial policies, it should be emphasized that this
limitation does not apply in the area of pharmaceutical products (see below).82 Finally, the
2013 extension does not prevent LDC members from reducing existing domestic “TRIPS-
plus” provisions (i.e. going beyond the TRIPS minimum standards) and moving toward
TRIPS minimum standards.

Extension for pharmaceutical products and clinical trial data

LDC members are granted an additional transition period until 1 January 2016 for the
implementation of the TRIPS provisions on patents and undisclosed information (including
clinical test data) in the area of pharmaceutical products.83 This extension encompasses at the
very least those pharmaceutical processes needed for the manufacture of the respective
products. Otherwise, the 2016 extension would be of very limited value, as exclusive rights on
the required manufacturing process would still block access to the pharmaceutical product
directly obtained through the patented process.84

The 2016 extension for pharmaceutical products and processes exempts LDC members from
the obligation to:


 implement the above-mentioned TRIPS provisions; or to
 apply them; or to
 enforce rights provided for under these TRIPS provisions.


By contrast to the 2013 extension, the 2016 extension is not subject to a no-roll-back
requirement. Existing laws and regulations may thus be expressly amended, or their

81 See Decision on the 2013 Extension, para. 5. In the literature on this subject, this no-roll-back requirement has
been described as illegal and therefore non-enforceable through the WTO dispute settlement system. See for
example S. Musungu, “A Conceptual Framework for Priority Identification and Delivery of IP Technical
Assistance for LDCs during the Extended Transition Period under the TRIPS Agreement”, Quaker United
Nations Office, Geneva, 2007 (available at http://www.quno.org/geneva/pdf/economic/Issues/Priority-ID-
English.pdf). Musungu considers the no-roll-back requirement to be an additional substantive obligation for
LDCs, one that the Council for TRIPS does not have a mandate to implement. The Council on TRIPS is thus
acting ultra vires (p. 9) and upsetting the negotiated balance of rights and obligations (p. 10). Musungu compares
the Decision on the 2013 Extension with another TRIPS Council Decision specifically related to the LDC
transition period in the area of pharmaceutical products (i.e. Decision by the Council for TRIPS of 27 June 2002
on “Extension of the Transition Period under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement for Least-Developed Country
Members for Certain Obligations with respect to Pharmaceutical Products”, WTO document IP/C/25 hereinafter
Decision on the 2016 Extension). The Decision on the 2016 Extension does not contain any no-roll-back
requirement, and Musungu challenges the rationale for such distinction (p. 10).
82 Technically, the 2013 extension and the no-roll-back requirement also apply to pharmaceutical products,
however the 2016 extension takes precedence over the 2013 extension as regards the particular area of
pharmaceutical products (see para 6 of the Decision on the 2013 Extension).
83 See Decision on the 2016 Extension. This Decision was based on paragraph 7 of the Doha Declaration.
84 See F. Abbott, “The Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health: Lighting A Dark Corner at
the WTO”, Journal of International Economic Law, Vol. 5, 2002, pp. 469-505) hereinafter Abbott, Dark
Corner (p. 504, footnote 102, referring to TRIPS Article 28.1(b) as covering process patents that are arguably
related to the subject matter of “pharmaceutical products” within the meaning of paragraph 7 of the Doha
Declaration).




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application may simply be suspended. The authorization of LDC members not to “enforce”
rights provided for under the TRIPS provisions on patents means that an LDC may choose not
to grant product patents on pharmaceuticals until 2016. In addition, this also means that an
LDC is authorized not to enforce pharmaceutical product patents that have already been
granted.85 Under this option, LDCs may choose to limit such non-enforcement to particular
pharmaceutical products, while maintaining patent protection for other pharmaceutical
products. For example, Rwanda in July 2007 notified the Council for TRIPS of its intent to no
longer enforce TRIPS provisions on patents and undisclosed information with respect to a
particular drug it intended to import in its generic form from a Canadian producer (for details,
see box 8, Section 3.3, below).86

Upon termination of the transition period (i.e. 2016 or later, if LDCs decide to request another
extension at the WTO Council for TRIPS), patents existing at the time when a specific LDC
decided to invoke the transition period would again have to be enforced, unless their term of
protection had expired in the meantime.87

The question arises as to what extent members taking advantage of the above-mentioned
transition periods have to comply with the “mailbox” obligation under Article 70.8 of the
TRIPS Agreement. This obligation normally requires that that members that do not make
patent protection available for pharmaceutical products nevertheless are required to provide a
system under which patent applications can be filed and kept (“mailbox”) during the transition
period.88 Upon termination of the transition period, all applications “in the mailbox” will then
have to be examined.89 For generic producers, this may have important implications, as
products they have used during the transition period may become subject to a patent once the
transition period expires in 2016. LDC members addressing this problem may face some legal
uncertainty, the degree of which depends on the design of their current domestic patent
legislation, and on regulatory measures they may take to alleviate the effects of patents that
emerge from the mailbox (as discussed under the policy options below).

Non-availability of pharmaceutical patents under domestic law on 1 January 1995

LDC members which, as of the date of entry into force of the WTO Agreement (i.e. 1 January
1995), did not make available patent protection for, inter alia, pharmaceutical products, were
subject to the mailbox obligation up to the expiry of the original transition period on 1



85 See also F. Abbott and R. Van Puymbroeck, “Compulsory Licensing for Public Health. A Guide and Model
Documents for Implementation of the Doha Declaration Paragraph 6 Decision”, World Bank Working Paper No.
61, World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2005 hereinafter World Bank Guide, p. 21. This leaves open the question
of remuneration for expropriation of the patent holder, which WTO Members may have to provide, according to
their own constitutional law. See the next section on policy options, below.
86 See “Notification under Paragraph 2(A) of the Decision of 30 August 2003 on the Implementation of
Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health”, WTO document
IP/N/9/RWA/1 of 19 July 2007.
87 Neither the TRIPS Agreement nor the Decision on the 2016 Extension specify whether the use of the
transition period should have any effect on the term of protection of existing patents. Without any specific
provision in this respect, it may be assumed that the patent term is not interrupted, but expires 20 years from the
filing date, irrespective of the transition period.
88 See Article 70.8, TRIPS Agreement. Unavailability of patent protection in this sense may take several forms,
such as through express amendments to the legal infrastructure; the suspension of the application of patent
provisions or the mere non-enforcement of granted rights.
89 For details, see Article 70.8 (b), TRIPS Agreement, as well as the UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, pp. 766-
772.




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January 2006, as expressly provided for under Article 70.8 of the TRIPS Agreement.90 There
is reason to believe that the 2016 extension decision for LDCs maintained the mailbox
obligation intact.91 The express language of the 2016 waiver extension only refers to the
TRIPS obligations on patents and undisclosed information, and does not refer to the
obligations under Article 70 of the TRIPS Agreement to provide for a mailbox system and to
provide for exclusive marketing rights (EMRs).92 The LDCs had asked for a waiver of both
obligations, and it was understood at the time that an express waiver would be necessary for
both obligations to be waived.93 While the WTO General Council did grant, in a separate
2002 decision, an express waiver for the requirement for LDCs to provide for EMRs during
the transition period,94 it never granted a waiver on the mailbox. This differential approach to
the mailbox on the one hand and EMRs on the other hand is likely to be read as indicative of
the General Council’s intent to maintain the mailbox obligation during the extended 2016
LDC transition period, despite the adoption of the 2001 Doha Declaration on the TRIPS
Agreement and Public Health.95 In addition, the 2016 Extension Decision expressly refers to
the extension of the original LDC transition period under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS
Agreement, which was subject to the mailbox obligation (Article 70.8 (a)). As a result, those
LDCs that did not make patent protection for pharmaceutical products available on 1 January
1995 and that continue such practice until 2016 must at least provide, in their domestic law,
for a mailbox, which gives patent applicants the opportunity to file patent applications at any
time and to then process and validate them upon the expiry of the 2016 transition period.

This obligation arguably conflicts with the underlying policy objective of the transition period,
which is to prevent the TRIPS patent rules from becoming an obstacle to LDC members’
efforts to protect public health. Although the mailbox obligation does not affect the LDC
members’ right to refuse to issue or enforce patents on pharmaceutical products until 2016, it
does require them to install and maintain administrative procedures that permit the receipt and
retention of pending pharmaceutical patent applications for the purpose of later examination
(i.e. from 2016 on). These procedures may entail considerable financial and administrative
efforts that would burden poor LDCs’ health budgets and thus further strain their capacity to
address those non-IP-related infrastructural and health care bottlenecks that some stakeholders



90 See Article 70.8 (a), TRIPS Agreement, providing for the mailbox obligation “notwithstanding the provisions
of Part VI” of the TRIPS Agreement, which contains the original LDC transition period under Article 66.1 (i.e. 1
January, 2006).
91 The same observation applies to the Decision on the 2013 Extension. That Decision extended the transition
period under TRIPS Article 66.1 in 2013. The Decision on the 2013 Extension expressly refers to the LDC
transition period “under Article 66.1 of the Agreement”, i.e. the transition period that had to respect the mailbox
obligation under Article 70.8(a). This reference has to be understood as carrying over into 2013 the original
mailbox obligation under the original transition period. While the 2013 decision only refers to TRIPS Articles 3-
5 as remaining obligations for LDCs, it makes clear in its heading that what is being extended is the transition
period as applicable to the mailbox obligation.
92 See Abbott, Dark Corner, p. 502. See also UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 719-720.
93 Communication to the authors from Professor Frederick M. Abbott, referring to a WTO website
announcement from the relevant time which referred specifically to the continuing obligation to provide mailbox
protection.
94 See WTO General Council Decision, “Least-Developed Country Members - Obligations Under Article 70.9 of
the TRIPS Agreement with Respect to Pharmaceutical Products”, 8 July 2002, WTO Document WT/L/478, 12
July 2002 (available at: http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/art70_9_e.htm). With respect to other
product areas, the 2013 extension also waives the EMRs obligation.
95 The Ugandan representative in the Council for TRIPS, speaking on behalf of the LDCs, stated that he would
have preferred the waiver to cover also Article 70.8 of the TRIPS Agreement, but he had not, in the spirit of
compromise and cooperation, insisted on this. See WTO document IP/C/M/36, paragraph 217. See paragraphs
193 - 217, ibid., for the minutes of the discussion on the waiver of the obligations under Article 70.8 and 70.9 of
the TRIPS Agreement.




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have identified as major obstacles to access to medicines in developing countries.96 Perhaps
WIPO could be asked to set up and maintain administrative procedures for this purpose on
behalf of LDCs that request such assistance. The costs of the mailboxes could then be borne
by beneficiary OECD countries, perhaps as part of their technical assistance obligations under
Article 66.2 of the TRIPS Agreement.


Availability and later suspension of pharmaceutical patents under domestic law

While under the above scenario (i.e. pharmaceutical product patent protection not available on
1 January 1995), the mailbox obligation applies until 2016, this issue is less clear with respect
to those LDCs that on 1 January 1995 did make pharmaceutical product patent protection
available, but later chose to suspend such protection, as authorized under the Decision on the
2016 Extension. In this context, it should be mentioned that on 1 January 1995, a considerable
number of LDCs did provide for pharmaceutical product patent protection, even though they
were not obligated to do so.



Interpreted literally, the mailbox obligation does not apply in such a case, as Article 70.8 of
the TRIPS Agreement is limited to situations where pharmaceutical product patent protection
was not available on 1 January 1995. Previous decisions by the WTO Appellate Body suggest
the importance of an interpretation that remains close to the express language of the TRIPS
Agreement, in order to not add any new commitments to a carefully negotiated balance of
rights and obligations.97 Establishing a mailbox filing system requires financial and other
resources that may adversely affect a very poor country’s potential to address more urgent
public health issues.


2.1.2 Policy options


The way in which to take full advantage of the extended transition period depends on the
domestic legal situation in any given LDC member. The easiest case arises where an LDC has
no patent protection in place at all, because that country may continue this policy until mid-
2013 for all technologies, and until 2016 for pharmaceuticals (and perhaps longer, if further
waivers for LDCs are granted by the Council for TRIPS). However, those LDCs would seem
to be required to establish a mechanism for mailbox patent filings.

In reality, many LDCs in their existing patent legislation do not make any specific reference
to the (non-) patentability of pharmaceutical products. Instead, these laws typically contain
broad references to the general requirements for the patentability of any products, including
pharmaceuticals. 98 Such laws do not make use of the 2013 and 2016 transition periods
accorded to LDC members under WTO law.



96 See, for example, T. Jones in the CIPIH Report, p. 202.
97 See World Trade Organization Appellate Body, “India - Patent Protection for Pharmaceutical and Agricultural
Chemical Products”, WTO Document WT/DS50/AB/R, 19 December 1997. See also UNCTAD-ICTSD
Resource Book, pp. 776-778.
98 See S. F. Musungu and C. Oh, “The Use of Flexibilities in TRIPS by Developing Countries: Can They
Promote Access to Medicines?”, Study 4C for CIPIH, Geneva, August 2005 (available at:
http://www.who.int/intellectualproperty/studies/TRIPSFLEXI.pdf ).




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There are basically two options available to these LDCs if they should now decide they want
to exploit the extended transition periods.

Option 1
If an LDC has already provided for patent protection in its domestic law, it may suspend both
the granting of new patents on pharmaceutical products and processes as well as the
enforcement of existing patents on these subject matters. However, it may not cut back on
existing protection in other technological areas under the no-roll-back provision of the 2013
Extension.

Alternatively, such an LDC could accomplish the same end by enacting an express
amendment to the existing legal infrastructure stating that until 1 January 2016, patents for
pharmaceutical products shall not be made available or enforced. This approach could include
additional provisions permitting the granting of some pharmaceutical patents under specified
and justifiable national interest exceptions (provided that care was taken to avoid potential
discrimination against foreign applicants).

Option 2
If an LDC has already provided for patent protection in its domestic law but declines to
suspend the granting or enforcement of pharmaceutical product or process patents for political
or policy reasons of its own, it may nonetheless consider shortening the term of protection for
such patents, at least until 2016.

The TRIPS Agreement requires members to provide for a minimum term of 20 years, counted
from the date of filing the application (Article 33). However, because of the 2016 extension,
nothing prevents LDC governments from providing shorter terms for pharmaceutical products
and processes, such as, for instance, 5 years from the date of filing the application. 99
Regarding other fields of technology, however, LDCs remain bound by the no-roll-back
requirement (see above), and any reduction of existing terms of patent protection for non-
pharmaceutical products might violate that requirement.

Dealing with the Mailbox Provision

As noted, Article 70.8 of the TRIPS Agreement and the 2016 Extension Decision imply that
those LDCs which on 1 January 1995 did not provide for pharmaceutical patent protection are
subject to the mailbox obligation. However, it is less clear that the mailbox obligation under
Article 70.8 of the TRIPS Agreement would also apply to those LDCs that, on 1 January 1995,
did provide for pharmaceutical patent protection but later chose to suspend it.

As analysed above, a literal interpretation of the language of Article 70.8 of the TRIPS
Agreement supports the position that the mailbox obligation does not apply to these LDCs.



In those cases where the mailbox obligation does apply, governments struggling with dire
economic and political circumstances may consider applying to the TRIPS Council for a
country-specific waiver on grounds of hardship under Article IX.3 of the WTO Agreement in
conjunction with Article 8.1 of the TRIPS Agreement.100

99 This was the practice in the United Republic of Tanzania; see Section 38 (1) of the Tanzanian Patents Act,
1987.
100 This provision states: “Members may, in formulating or amending their laws and regulations, adopt measures
necessary to protect public health and nutrition, and to promote the public interest in sectors of vital importance




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Governments that are willing to implement the mailbox obligation in all cases may seek to
mitigate its impact on local producers in various ways.


 One option in this regard is for LDCs to combine the implementation of the mailbox
obligation with a right of prior use available to producers who were using the later
protected substance in good faith before the mailbox patent application was filed. The
prior user right is an exception to the rights conferred by a patent that is widely
recognized in OECD country legislation,101 and it may be deemed consistent with the
requirements of the TRIPS provision on patent exceptions under Article 30 (see
Section 3.1, below).102 In domestic laws, prior use exceptions are usually provided
without any right to remuneration for the patent holder. However, the prior use
exception is limited to cases where the use of the respective substance occurred prior
to the filing of the (mailbox) patent application.



 Another strategy that could be used to mitigate the impact of the mailbox obligation


on local producers is to follow the example of the Indian Patents Act. It provides that
patents granted on the basis of a mailbox application shall entitle the patent holder
“only … to receive [a] reasonable royalty from such enterprises which have made
significant investment and were producing and marketing the concerned product prior
to the 1st day of January, 2005 and which continue to manufacture the product
covered by the patent on the date of grant of the patent and no infringement
proceedings shall be instituted against such enterprises.”103 Unlike the typical prior use
exception, the Indian law allows the use (against remuneration) of the patented
substance even in instances where a third party had started using the substance only
after the mailbox application was filed, but before the entry into force of the obligation
for India to make available pharmaceutical product patent protection. Good faith on
the part of the third party is not required, but s/he must show significant investment
and prior continued use on the date of the patent grant.



 While the consistency of the Indian approach with the TRIPS Agreement has not been


tested, the case for its compatibility rests on the grounds that it represents a “sui
generis prior users’ right” under Article 30 of the TRIPS Agreement as reinforced by
the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.104 However, it is not certain that
the WTO Appellate Body would be persuaded that India’s interest in promoting access
to affordable medicines justified converting the mailbox rights to a compensatory
solution, nor is it clear that a WTO decision favouring India, if the issue were litigated,
would automatically authorize its use by other countries in other circumstances. This
said, one should note that the United States Supreme Court held in 2006 that
injunctions in patent cases may be denied on grounds either of public interest or a
showing that monetary damages are adequate.105 One may therefore predict with some



to their socio-economic and technological development, provided that such measures are consistent with the
provisions of this Agreement.”
101 See, for instance, § 12 (1) of the German Patent Act; and Section 64 of the United Kingdom Patents Act.
102 C. Garrison, “Exceptions to Patent Rights in Developing Countries”, UNCTAD-ICTSD Issue Paper No. 17,
Geneva, 2006, pp. 2, 5, and 6 [hereinafter Garrison].
103See Section 11-A (7) of the Indian Patents Act (Amendment Act, 2005).
104 Professor F.M. Abbott, email communication to the authors, December 2007.
105 See eBay Inc v. MercExchange, L.L.C., U.S. 126 S. Ct. 1837 (2006).




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confidence that LDCs would be given the benefit of the doubt on in this matter, in the
unlikely event their use of this approach were to be challenged at WTO.



Other considerations

 In technology areas other than pharmaceuticals, the no-roll-back requirement applies


(see above). Thus, where there is an existing practice of refusing to grant patents on
certain non-pharmaceutical technologies, such practice may be continued, but TRIPS
rules would not authorize extending such a practice to areas of non-pharmaceutical
technology for which patents used to be available.


 Depending on national constitutional law and rule of law principles, the suspension of
the existing patent law could require the government (e.g. the responsible minister) to
issue a decree or to receive parliamentary approval.


 Suspensions and amendments would have to refer to a specific date after which
patents would no longer be granted. Moreover, while the Decision on the 2016
Extension clearly allows members to suspend the application and enforcement of
patents already granted, there may be domestic laws regarding constitutional rights to
property, and principles governing expropriation that may have to be taken into
account. Such laws might entitle the patent holder to adequate remuneration under
some theories.106 In any event, existing patents would again have to be enforced after
1 January 2016, unless the transition period is further extended by the TRIPS Council.


2.2 Administrative observation and opposition procedures


2.2.1 Background


There is a risk even in developed countries that patent offices may inadvertently grant patents
for inventions that do not meet the basic patentability requirements of novelty, inventive step
and industrial applicability as courts of commentators would interpret them. 107 These
questionable or so-called “weak” patents constitute an even more serious problem in
developing countries and especially LDCs, where patent examiners often lack expertise in the
evaluation of complex technical patent applications. There is a tendency in some developing
country patent offices to grant patents without thorough examination, particularly when a
parallel patent on the same substance has been granted by a developed country patent
office.108


106 For example, in Chile and Germany, existing intellectual property rights are part of the constitutional right to
private property, the suspension of which will normally require the Government to adequately remunerate the
patent holder (see, for instance, Article 14.3 of the German Constitution).
107 See, e.g., Reichman/Cooper Dreyfus, section II. See also the results of the United States FTC Study and the
EU Pharmaceutical Sector Inquiry.
108 For example, the patent law of Uganda provided for the automatic registration in Uganda of patents granted in
the United Kingdom. See Uganda Law Reform Commission, “A Study Report on Industrial Property Law
(Patents, Industrial Designs, Technovations and Utility Models),” Law Com Pub. No. 12 of 2004, Kampala,
2004. Each WTO member may require patent applicants to provide information on the applicant’s corresponding
foreign applications and grants, Article 29.2, TRIPS Agreement. For details, see Section 2.7.2 below.




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Wrongly granted patents provide exclusive rights on materials that should be freely available
to all competitors from the public domain. In the public health context, this means that generic
producers will be prevented from using the wrongly patented substances for their own
production, and generic competition will thus be less effective in bringing down drugs prices.
It may also have an adverse impact on innovation. Challenges to weak patents typically occur
in domestic courts. However, this process is both time consuming and very costly, which risks
deterring generic producers and other stakeholders from such action.

It is thus appropriate to provide a system under which patents can be challenged before the
patent office itself (pre-grant and post-grant opposition) in addition to providing a system for
post-grant court procedures. Administrative procedures are in general less time-consuming
and less expensive than litigation, and may provide significant opportunities for third parties
to draw the patent examiners’ attention to elements that would justify the non-granting or
reduction in scope of a patent.


2.2.2 Policy options


The TRIPS Agreement leaves members considerable discretion concerning the establishment
of administrative procedures for patent opposition. National law may make such procedures
available before or after the actual grant of the patent, or both.

Option 1 (pre-grant observation or opposition procedure) is to provide third parties with
the possibility to file an observation or opposition with the patent office on a pending patent
application. The objective is to provide third parties with the opportunity to submit evidence
to the patent office that could help to prevent the granting of a poor quality patent. For this
purpose, the patent office may be obliged, under national law, to hear the arguments advanced
by the opposing party and to take them into account in its decision regarding pending
applications. Alternatively, the patent office may hear third party arguments but are not
required to consider the information in their ultimate decision. Procedures that have a binding
effect are referred to as “opposition”, whereas procedures that do not obligate the patent office
to respond to third party comments are termed as “observations”. Pre-grant opposition and
observations may be raised on the grounds that the patentability requirements are not met or
for other reasons, such as insufficiency of disclosure.109 The refusal or revocation of a patent
grant on the basis of insufficient disclosure of origin of genetic resources and traditional
knowledge used in a claimed invention is an important issue under discussion, in both the
WTO Council for TRIPS110 and WIPO.

Legislation establishing a pre-grant observation/opposition procedure will have to set some
time span during which observations/opposition are admissible before the patent office. The



109 See UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO Working Paper, C. Correa, “Guidelines for the examination of pharmaceutical
patents: Developing a public health perspective”, UNCTAD-ICTSD Regional Research Agenda, Geneva, 2007,
Section 3 (p. 24) [hereinafter UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO, Pharmaceutical Patents (available at
http://www.iprsonline.org/unctadictsd/docs/Correa_Pharmaceutical-Patents-Guidelines.pdf ). See also C. Correa,
“Integrating Public Health Concerns into Patent Legislation in Developing Countries”, The South Centre, 2000,
pp. 83-85 hereinafter South Centre, 2000.
110 For an overview of these discussions, see WTO secretariat, “The Relationship between the TRIPS Agreement
and the Convention on Biological Diversity” Summary of Issues Raised and Points Made. Note by the
Secretariat. Document no. IP/C/W/368/Rev.1 of 8 February 2006. See also UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book,
pp. 397-399; 457-459.




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determining date in this scenario is the date of publication of the patent application.
Governments may provide that, for a certain amount of time counted from the date of
publication, observations and oppositions may be filed by interested third parties. National
administrative law may define the requirements to qualify as an “interested” third party. In
general, this may be any natural or juridical person whose rights or economic interests may
potentially be affected by the patent. In addition, national legislation should provide for the
possibility to appeal the decisions made by the patent office with regard to third party
observations and oppositions. The TRIPS Agreement imposes no limitations in this respect.

Option 2 (post-grant opposition procedure) may be used in addition to – or as an
alternative to – option 1. Under this option, a third party may file an opposition with the
patent office after a patent has been granted. The grounds for post-grant opposition may be
the same as in the case of a pre-grant observation/opposition procedure. In addition, the patent
may be challenged where its subject matter as granted goes beyond what has been applied for
in the patent application.111 Such opposition may be filed within a pre-determined period after
the publication of the patent grant.112 Also, national legislation should implement a process
through which to appeal decisions that are passed down subsequent to an opposition. Finally,
domestic law may provide that, in the context of patent infringement proceedings before a
court, the patent office may be requested any time during the life of the patent to re-examine
the grant in light of prior art newly called to the patent office’s attention.113


2.3 Patentable subject matter


Before addressing the patentability criteria (or “patent eligibility criteria”) of novelty,
inventive step and industrial application (see Section 2.4), a patent examiner must examine
whether the claimed product or process actually qualifies as an invention, and whether there
are other characteristics that prevent its patentability. If such examination does not confirm
the existence of “patentable subject matter”, the patent application will be rejected and there is
no need to consider the eligibility criteria. The substance at issue will consequently remain in
the public domain and should be freely available to the public, including generic producers of
pharmaceuticals and researchers.

Regarding patentable subject matter, the TRIPS Agreement authorizes members to exclude
certain types of subject matter from patentability. Only “inventions” are patentable (Article
27.1 of the TRIPS Agreement), but the TRIPS Agreement does not define what is an
“invention”. Members are therefore free to define what constitutes an invention. Depending
on national legislation, natural substances, which often provide important inputs to
pharmaceutical products may or may not qualify as “inventions” (see below).

In addition to the exclusion from patentability of non-inventions, Article 27.3(a) of the TRIPS
Agreement authorizes members to exclude from patentability diagnostic, therapeutic and
surgical methods for the treatment of humans and animals (for details, see Section 2.3.2).
Methods of treatment are considered to be inventions under TRIPS, but may nevertheless be
excluded from patentability. Substances that are not considered an invention in the first place

111 See Article 100 (c) of the European Patent Convention (EPC).
112 For instance, under the EPC, an opposition may be filed within nine months after the publication of the grant
(Article 99, EPC).
113 South Centre, 2000, p. 84, referring to United States law.




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(such as natural substances under some national laws) do not need such exclusion; they are
non-patentable subject matter in all circumstances.

The following three sections (2.3.1-2.3.3) will discuss the issues of natural substances, new
uses of known substances and product derivatives, and examine to what extent these may
constitute patentable subject matter. The important issues of new uses and of product
derivatives will arise again under Section 2.4 on patentability criteria.


2.3.1 Substances existing in nature


2.3.1.1 Background


The extent to which naturally existing substances may be patented has some important
implications for generic pharmaceutical production. Medicaments may consist entirely or
partially of biological substances, including extractions from plants, algae, human proteins,
and the results of genetic engineering.114

Article 27.1, TRIPS Agreement, obligates members to make available patent protection for
“inventions”. The Agreement does not define this notion. However, national legislation in
developed WTO members has traditionally excluded, inter alia, discoveries and scientific
theories.115 The reason for the exclusion of discoveries stems from the basic rationale of
patent protection: to reward human ingenuity and creativity as a contribution to the
advancement of humankind. The inventor, in exchange for his/her efforts and readiness to
make his/her invention available to the benefit of society is granted a reward, i.e. a monopoly
to exploit the invention over a limited period of time. Mere discoveries, including, arguably,
substances found in nature, need not be treated under patent law as deserving of such a
reward.116 They do not result from anyone’s ingenuity or creativity.

Abstract scientific theories, principles and ideas, on the other hand, are expressions of human
ingenuity and creativity. However, because technological progress depends on the availability
of theories and ideas as inputs for follow-on innovation, patent law (and copyright law) has
traditionally been construed so as to exclude these building blocks of knowledge from IP
protection.

For these reasons, national patent laws have traditionally defined an invention as resulting
from a technical contribution to the art, or as being of a technical character, representing
the solution to technical problems, or having a technical effect, as opposed to ideas,
abstract scientific principles and, arguably, substances found in nature. 117 Even so, the

114 See South Centre, 2000, pp. 15-16.
115 See, for instance, Article 52 (2) (a) of the European Patent Convention. According to United States Supreme
Court case law, laws of nature, physical phenomena and abstract ideas are not patentable subject matter. See, for
example, the recent decision in Bilski et al v. Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property
and Director, Patent and Trademark Office, Decision of 28 June 2010, Syllabus, p. 2 [hereinafter Bilski v.
Kappos] (available at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-964.pdf).
116 Note that domestic patent laws differ on this issue.
117 These references to technical character/technical contribution or effect are oftentimes not made in express
terms. Article 52 (2) (a) of the European Patent Convention, for instance, by excluding “discoveries”, implies a
technical character of an invention. One reason for this is that there is no internationally agreed definition of
technical character/effect/contribution. These notions derive from German patent law, see UNCTAD-ICTSD




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distinction, under domestic law, between a technical invention on the one hand and abstract
principles and natural substances on the other hand may be made depending on whether the
definition standards are strict or lax. The TRIPS Agreement does not contain any express
restrictions on national discretion in this respect.


2.3.1.2 Policy options


Based on the background above, a case can be made that substances occurring in nature need
not be considered inventions. However, this argument weakens in regards to natural
substances that have been extracted from their natural environment and, due to such
extraction, or subsequent refinement, behave differently from their original form. Some
jurisdictions consider such isolated or purified matter as potentially patentable, as long as it
satisfies the other eligibility requirements, even if the (isolated) substance as such remains
unchanged. For those extracted substances, what triggers the patentability is the act of
isolating or purifying, which is regarded as a technical contribution to the art in its right.118

Governments seeking to ensure broad access by local producers and researchers to natural
substances relevant for pharmaceutical production may wish to consider adopting a definition
of “invention” that would exclude naturally occurring substances in isolated form. For
example, Article 7 (b) of Argentina’s Patents Act excludes from patentability, inter alia,


“all biological and genetic material existing in nature or derived therefrom in
biological processes associated with animal, plant and human reproduction, including



Resource Book, p. 361. The current German Patents Act contains no express reference to the technical character
of an invention (see § 1 of the 1980 Patents Act, as amended on 21 June 2006), as this requirement is generally
accepted as a principle of common law. In the United States, two recent decisions have discussed the issue of
technical effect versus abstract idea in the context of process patent claims. In more concrete terms, these
decisions addressed the applicable criteria to determine whether a process is patentable or constitutes an abstract
(and non-patentable) idea. In a 2008 decision, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) stated that in
order for a process to constitute eligible patent subject matter, rather than an abstract idea, it (1) needs to be tied
to a particular machine or apparatus, or (2) transforms a particular article into a different state or thing (see In re
Bilski, 545 F.3d 943, 88 U.S.P.Q.2d 1385 (Fed. Cir. 2008)). The CAFC in this decision reversed its older case
law, which stated that a process is patentable so long as it creates a “useful, concrete and tangible result” (see
State Street Bank & Trust Co. v. Signature Financial Group, 149 F. 3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1998)). This decision has
been interpreted by members of the legal profession as elevating the requirements for processes to qualify as
patentable subject matter (see D. Vogel, “Grünes Licht für Software-Patente”, in Neue Zürcher Zeitung of 24
September 2010 [hereinafter Vogel], arguing that the creation of a useful, concrete and tangible result appears
easier to do than the transformation of an existing article into something else. That author refers, inter alia, to
software used in the context of medical diagnostics, which creates a result in the above sense, but does not
necessarily transform an article into a different state or thing.). The United States Supreme Court in the same
case (Bilski v. Kappos) confirmed the usefulness of the “machine-or-transformation test”, but stressed that this
test could not be considered the only criterion in the distinction of patentable subject matter and abstract ideas.
Thus, the test would have to be complemented through a case-by-case analysis, according to expert
commentators of the decision. See IP Watch, “Bilski Decision Tough But Vague On Business Method Patents”,
Monthly Edition, July 2010, pp. 4/5. Vogel has interpreted the Supreme Court decision as softening the stricter
“machine-or-transformation test” established by the CAFC, thus facilitating the patentability of processes.
118 See Article 3.2 of the EU Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 1998
on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions: “Biological material which is isolated from its natural
environment or produced by means of a technical process may be the subject of an invention even if it previously
occurred in nature”. The same approach is taken under § 1 (2) of the German Patents Act. But see discussion on
industrial application, Section 2.4.1.3, for limitations of the scope of granted gene patents under both European
Union and Member States law.




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genetic processes applied to the said material that are capable of bringing about the
normal, free duplication thereof in the same way as in nature.”119



Brazil’s patent law establishes that


“all or part of natural living beings and biological materials found in nature, even if
isolated there from, including the genome or germplasm of any natural living being,
and the natural biological processes” are “not considered to be inventions or utility
models.”120



Similarly, the Decision of the Andean Community on the Common Regime of Industrial
Property states that


“any living thing, either complete or partial, as found in nature, natural biological
processes, and biological material, as existing in nature, or able to be separated,
including the genome or germplasm of any living thing” shall not be considered
inventions.”121


Moreover, some commentators contend that domestic law could stipulate that in order to be
an invention, the biological material itself needs to have undergone a structural change, for
example by means of genetic engineering.122 In any event, the process used for isolating
biological substances remains patentable subject matter, but a process patent places fewer
restrictions on other potential users than a product patent.123

It must be remembered that the TRIPS Agreement forbids discrimination against foreign
nationals. Therefore, a member that opts to implement this standard must also exclude local
innovators from patents on matter existing in nature. Local inventors would still have the
ability to patent such substances abroad, however, under the independence of patents doctrine.


2.3.2 New uses of known products


2.3.2.1 Background


In pharmaceutical patent law, an important question is whether or not new uses of known
products should be patentable. This issue arises because additional therapeutic uses of a
product are often only discovered after the product has been available to the public for quite
some time. One scenario in which this is important is the discovery of the first medical use of



119 Law 24.481, as amended by Law 24.572, consolidated text approved by Decree 260/96, of March 20/96.
120 See N. De Carvalho “The Problem Of Gene Patents”, Washington University Global Studies Law Review, Vol.
3, No. 3, 2004, pp. 701 ff.
121 Ibid.
122 See South Centre, 2000, p. 20. In that case, the technical contribution required for patentability would not be
the isolation of the biological substance from its natural environment, but the modification of the biological
substance in itself.
123 As opposed to process patents, product patents render illegal any unauthorized production through reverse
engineering of a product for commercial purposes. Under a process patent, the product may still be used by third
parties if the latter use a different process for manufacturing the product, assuming they rebut the burden of proof
under Article 34 of the TRIPS Agreement. See above, box 1.




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a product (“first medical use”124; for instance, where a substance used for food consumption is
later discovered to help prevent cancer), or the second use (“second medical use”;125 for
example, the AZT drug (Retrovir), previously used to combat cancer, was later found to also
be effective against HIV/AIDS). Finding a new, more efficient or less invasive way of
administering a known drug is also a case of new use. It is important to emphasize that a new
use by definition results from the same chemical entity, i.e., a known pre-existing substance.
The new drug prescribed for the new use thus makes no change to the chemical structure of
the existing product (as would be the case of derivatives, which are discussed later in this
Guide).

Because the same chemical entity is at issue, new therapeutic uses may come to light during
late-stage clinical trials, or afterward, when physicians themselves start to use the drug for a
new therapeutic effect that was unknown to the patentee. In some instances, the patentee
himself may invest in additional R&D that leads to new uses of an existing pharmaceutical
product.126

Because new uses of known substances entail no change of chemical structure, they
conceivably fall within the R&D capabilities of industries in many developing countries and
even some LDCs. This is particularly true in countries where knowledge of traditional
medicines exists, and new indications might be found through targeted research. While
companies in developing countries may possess unique opportunities in this area, the costs of
establishing the safety and efficacy of new uses are high, as are the costs of establishing
production facilities for this purpose. Hence, thought must be given to the legal incentives that
local producers might need to invest in this type of production.

At the same time, governments should consider the potential of obtaining medicines based on
new uses of known substances at prices their citizens and their public health systems can
afford. Precisely because new chemical entities are not involved, there are no large R&D
expenditures that need to be recovered through patents, and therefore a case can be made for
adopting a more pro-competitive regime that allows all would-be producers to enter the
market without intellectual property rights. This regime can be consistent with the TRIPS
Agreement, as will be explained below. It should also be noted that a totally free market
policy towards new uses risks significantly lessening the incentive to explore such uses, even
for potential local producers. For this and other reasons, we shall also discuss other means of
protection that offer an alternative to patents that developing countries might find particularly
well-suited to promoting investment in the discovery of new uses of known pharmaceutical
substances.

With these policy issues in mind, it is important to realize that international patent law allows
developing countries a broad legal space in which to determine whether or not to allow
patents on new uses at all, and to adjust the scope of those patents that are allowed. As will be
further described below, the manner in which governments implement the options available
under the TRIPS Agreement will determine both the extent to which the originator patentee
will have control over new uses and the space available for follow-on innovators, including
local companies, to produce the product in question for such uses. The task for governmental
policymakers is to understand the different legal options available under the TRIPS



124 Also referred to as first medical indication.
125 Also referred to as second medical indication.
126 See South Centre Guide, p. 121.




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Agreement and to adopt a strategy consistent with the financial and technical capabilities of
their own pharmaceutical sectors.


2.3.2.1.1 Legal requirements under TRIPS


Two basic questions must be addressed in order to promote informed IP policy making on the
regulation of new uses of known pharmaceutical products. The first concerns the extent to
which TRIPS obliges countries to protect new uses of known substances at all, as a technical
legal matter. If the TRIPS Agreement does not include such a requirement, the second
question concerns the benefits and detriments of choosing whether or not to protect new uses
of known substances.

There is an inherent tension in the TRIPS Agreement between Article 27.1, which broadly
defines patentable subject matter as encompassing “all fields of technology,” and Article
27.3(a), which codifies a very old and established subject matter exception for “diagnostic,
therapeutic, and surgical methods for the treatment of humans or animals.” Narrowly
construed, everyone understands that Article 27.3(a) is meant to prevent medical doctors from
being limited by patents when administering treatments in their everyday practice, for
example, prescribing the dosage of patented medicines for specified patients. The question
arises as to whether this general exclusion of “therapeutic methods of treatment”, read
together with other TRIPS provisions (i.e. the patentability criteria of novelty, inventive step
and industrial application), can be construed as justifying the exclusion of “new uses of
known pharmaceutical compositions” as a legitimate subject matter for a process patent.

The answer to this question will partly depend on how the member where protection is sought
interprets Article 27.3(a) of the TRIPS Agreement, in the absence of any authoritative
interpretation of that provision by either the WTO Ministers or Tribunals. At one extreme,
members’ legislation may expressly deny recognition of even process patents on new uses of
known substances under a broad interpretation of the terms “diagnostic, therapeutic and
surgical methods” under Article 27.3(a). Under this approach, “there is no real difference
between patent claims relating to the use of a substance and those relating to a therapeutic
method: in both cases a new medical activity is claimed, i.e. a new way of using one or more
known products.”127 Under this refine, the patenting of new therapeutic effects of a known
pharmaceutical substance would be illegal.128 While there are few supporting state examples
of this practice, the European Patent Office’s (EPO) own practice under the 1973 EPC
indirectly supports this interpretation, see box 2, below.

At the opposite extreme, members may narrowly interpret Article 27.3 (a) so as to exclude
only medical practitioners’ every day work from patentability. Under this approach, new
medical uses of known substances could be considered to be patentable subject matter, if the
member so desires. In these cases, producers meeting the novelty and non-obviousness
requirements could obtain process patents on the relevant uses. State practice in the United
States indirectly supports this option. In effect, the relevant United States legislation
altogether ignores Article 27.3(a), perhaps because Congress did not want to entangle the
protection of new medical uses of known substances in these questions of interpretation.
Rather, United States legislation recognizes a narrow medical practitioners’ exception that
would fall under Article 30 of the TRIPS Agreement, and thus sidesteps the subject matter

127 UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, 387 (italics supplied) (citing Domeij at footnote 641).
128 Ibid.




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issue altogether. By the same token, United States patent law denies product patents on any
known product for which a new use – medical or otherwise - is discovered.129 This practice
appears to be based on the interpretation that such products could not be “new” in the patent
sense. Nevertheless, United States law clearly allows process patents on both the first medical
use of a known substance and second or later medical uses of such a substance, provided that
the claimed new use otherwise meets the eligibility requirements.130 Such process patents
would also be available under United States law for new uses of products found in nature.

It follows from this overview of State practice that Article 27.3 (a) of TRIPS is not viewed as
imposing specific obligations on members regarding the patentability of new uses, at least in
the absence of an authoritative interpretation by the Ministers or a judgement under the WTO
dispute resolution process. Members seeking to bestow process patents on new medical uses
of known substances will accordingly find little resistance in Article 27.3 (a), and may indeed
go so far as to grant product patents for first and subsequent medical uses of such substances,
as exemplified by EPO practice. Even where only process patents are granted, as in the United
States, Article 28.1 (b) will further ensure that the relevant patents cover “at least the product
obtained directly by that process”.

Members unwilling to grant even process patents on new medical uses of known products (or
of substances found in nature) may seek shelter behind Article 27.3(a) of the TRIPS
Agreement. Their recourse to the broad construction of this provision is indirectly supported
by the EPO’s own perceived need to sidestep similar language in the EPC through the legal
fiction of “Swiss claims”, although the terms have changed under the 2007 version of the EPC
(see box 2, below). Even so, the TRIPS consistency of such a broad construction of Article
27.3(a) of the TRIPS Agreement cannot be guaranteed until the WTO formally pronounces
upon this question.

Having discussed the implications of Article 27.3(a), TRIPS Agreement, regarding its
implications for the granting of process patents on new medical uses of known
pharmaceutical substances, it is appropriate to consider a second, closely related problem.
This pertains to the eligibility of the inventor of a new use for a known substance to obtain a
product patent on that substance that would cover the new use that has been found. Logically,
this practice gives rise to a contradiction, in that the substance remains the same in all cases
and only a “new method of use” has been added to the prior art. On this reasoning, United
States law allows only a process patent on the new use,131 besides any previous product patent
that may or may not exist on the substance. It is this type of process patent that developing
countries may freely exclude under Article 27.3 (a) of the TRIPS Agreement.

In European practice, however, and despite the logical contradiction it entails, the inventor of
a new use for a known pharmaceutical substance may obtain either a product or a process
patent for the new use in question (see box 2). A product patent is generally much more
valuable to pharmaceutical companies than a process patent. If the originator company
followed the product patent route, it could possess two patents on the same substance:
depending on local law, the first pharmaceutical patent would cover uses known or disclosed
at the time the first patent was filed, and the second pharmaceutical patent would cover the



129 Ibid, at 356.
130 See Thomas, at p. 37-38.
131 Ibid.




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new specific use discovered later, which would protect the same substance for another twenty
years, at least with respect to that new use.132

Box 2: New use pharmaceutical patents under the European Patent Convention

Since the revised version of the European Patent Convention (EPC) entered into force in
December 2007, pharmaceutical product patents are available not only for first, but equally
for second and subsequent medical uses. Article 54(4) of the EPC applies to first
pharmaceutical uses of substances that were known previously, but which medical properties
were only discovered later.133 For such medical uses of known products, the EPC, through a
legal fiction, establishes broad product patent claims encompassing all possible
pharmaceutical uses.134 The fact that the product in question had been used for some other
non-medical purpose, say, as a food product, would thus not prevent it from being considered
as novel in the medical field in the EPC member States.

By employing a legal fiction comparable to Article 54(4), Article 54(5) of the revised EPC
clarifies that second, third and subsequent pharmaceutical uses of known pharmaceutical
substances qualify for use-bound product claims.135 This rule potentially enlarges the scope of
pharmaceutical product patents as compared to process patents. The existence of a product
patent for a first pharmaceutical use, which in fact covers all possible medical uses, does not
prevent the patenting of the same substance for specific medical uses discovered after the first
use patent was granted. The broad first use patent may then be considered as retroactively
limited by the grant of a subsequent product patent on a specific, later discovered medical
use.136

Prior to the revised version of the EPC entering into force, product patents were only
available for first pharmaceutical uses of known products.137 With regard to second, third and
subsequent new medical uses of known medical substances, the lack of an EPC provision
comparable to new EPC Article 54(5) forced the EPO to deny product patents, because the
product as such had already been used as a medical product before and would therefore no
longer be considered new in the patent sense. In theory, the language in old Article 52.4



132 See EPC Article 54(4) (for first pharmaceutical uses) and (5) (for subsequent pharmaceutical uses) as revised
and entered into force in December 2007.
133 Article 54(4), EPC reads as follows: “(4) Paragraphs 2 and 3 [i.e. on novelty] shall not exclude the
patentability of any substance or composition, comprised in the state of the art, for use in a method referred to in
Article 53 (c) [i.e. exclusion from patentability of methods for the treatment of humans and animals], provided
that its use for any such method is not comprised in the state of the art.” The terms “use for any such method”
refer to the general methods for human or animal treatment listed under Article 53(c), i.e. surgery or therapy and
diagnostic methods. The use of the known product must be novel for any of these methods. This may be the case
with first medical uses, as the substance at issue is for the first time used for the purpose of surgery or therapy
and diagnostic methods.
134 See case T128/82, OJ EPO 1984 (available at: http://archive.epo.org/epo/pubs/oj1985/p059_094.pdf), p. 164,
as cited by South Centre Guide, p. 140.
135 Article 54(5), EPC reads as follows: “(5) Paragraphs 2 and 3 [i.e. on novelty] shall also not exclude the
patentability of any substance or composition referred to in paragraph 4 for any specific use in a method
referred to in Article 53(c) [i.e. exclusion from patentability of methods for the treatment of humans and
animals], provided that such use is not comprised in the state of the art.” (emphasis added)
136 See South Centre Guide, p. 139, in respect of the relationship between an original, non-pharmaceutical
product patent and a subsequent product patent on a first medical use. The same legal fiction may be applied to
the relationship between a broad first-use pharmaceutical product claim and product claims for subsequent
pharmaceutical uses.
137 Article 54(5) of the former EPC (1973), which is identical to Article 54(4) of the new EPC (2007).




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EPC,138 which mirrors the exemption in Article 27(3)(a) of the TRIPS Agreement, could even
have obliged the EPO to deny process patents for subsequent medical uses on subject matter
grounds.139 Instead, the EPO used to have recourse to another legal fiction, known as the
“Swiss formula” or “Swiss claims”, to enable process patents to issue for second and
subsequent medical uses of a known substance. The EPO construed the relevant process
claims as referring to how the drug was made (in order to achieve a certain purpose) rather
than as process claims describing a use for a certain purpose, which would have raised
questions of compatibility with old EPC Article 52.4. In effect, a method-of-use claim was
thus treated as if it constituted a method-of-production claim, which was not barred by the
former EPC Article 52.4 or Article 27.3 (a) of the TRIPS Agreement. Indeed, the EPO
contended that such Swiss claims also fell outside the scope of old Article 52.4 EPC, which it
saw as limited to method-of-use claims.140

Developing country governments may be disinclined to allow originator pharmaceutical
companies to extend the duration of patent protection for a given substance by allowing for
product patents on new medical uses. More generally, they may not wish to allow originator
companies to control new uses of known substances at all. To pursue this objective, however,
a broad application of Article 27.3 (a), TRIPS Agreement alone will not suffice. Rather, the
local patent law must explicitly exclude product patents for new uses of known substances on
the logical grounds that the inventor would have contributed no new product to the prior art at
all, consonant with United States law and practice.141 This result can be achieved by issuing a
specific regulation governing novelty in such cases.142 Alternatively, some commentators
argue that a developing country could justify this exclusion of product patents for new uses on
the grounds that the new use in such cases was merely an unpatentable “discovery” rather
than a patentable “invention.”143 However, this approach seems weaker and riskier than the
United States model just discussed because it would raise questions about the proper breadth
of exclusions for discoveries that only the WTO Appellate Body could settle.

In any event, a developing country could altogether exclude both process patents (on subject
matter grounds, through a broad application of Article 27.3(a)) and product patents (through
the novelty requirement) for new uses of a known pharmaceutical substance. In that case, it
could freely allow qualified local producers to market generic versions of the product for that



138 I.e. new Article 53(c), EPC.
139 Former Article 52.4 of the EPC states that: “Methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery
or therapy and diagnostic methods practiced on the human or animal body shall not be regarded as inventions
which are susceptible of industrial application within the meaning of paragraph 1 [i.e. the eligibility requirements
of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability]. […]” As discussed in the context of the similar provision
under Article 27.3 (a) of the TRIPS Agreement, when interpreted broadly, this provision may be understood as
excluding from process patent protection new medical uses of known products.
140 See, for example, Decision G 1/83 of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, in its headnotes (available at
http://www.epo.org/patents/law/legal-texts/html/epc/1973/e/ar52.html):


“I. A European Patent with claims directed to the use may not be granted for the use of a substance
or composition for the treatment of the human or animal body by therapy.
II. A European patent may be granted with claims directed to the use of a substance or
composition for the manufacture of a medicament for a specified new and inventive therapeutic
application.” (emphasis added).


141 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 356.
142 The regulation would thus invoke the novelty standard of eligibility for this purpose, as is done for product
patent applications in the United States, without however necessarily allowing for process patents on new uses,
as is done in the United States. For a discussion of the novelty standard, see below.
143 South Centre Guide, pp. 124, 130.




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specific use in the most pro-competitive manner, ensuring innovation through an alternative
incentive system, which will be discussed below.

Of course, a government may also decide that it wishes to allow process patents on new uses
of pharmaceutical products, but no additional product patents, in the United States fashion. In
that case, the patentee can prevent third parties from “the act of using the process, and from
the acts of: using, offering for sale, selling or importing for these purposes at least the product
obtained directly by that process.”144 In theory, a second comer could nonetheless reverse-
engineer the product in order to devise a different process that would not infringe the
originator’s process patent. In practice, the second comer’s effective ability to reverse-
engineer the underlying substance and to exploit a resulting process patent in such a case
could depend on whether there was a blocking patent on the underlying substance;145 on the
scope of the research exemption under local law; on the availability of a compulsory license
for dependent improvement patents; or on some combination of the above.

Under yet another approach, a developing country government could decide to allow process
and product patents for new pharmaceutical uses, in the same manner as the member States of
the EPC. If a developing country took this latter route, it would be ignoring the advice of
some governmental and intergovernmental organizations.146 One reason for such decision
could be that policymakers had prioritized the incentive effects of patents over the freedom of
action allowed for competitors if no patents were made available in this area. In so doing,
however, policy makers could still choose among two strategic options to accommodate local
producers.


1. Under the first option, a country’s legislation that makes product patents available for
new medical uses could limit the scope of such patents to the uses expressly claimed
and disclosed in the patent applications. Under that scenario, the authorities could
decide to allow second comers – whether foreign or domestic – to obtain product
patents pertaining to the new uses that were subsequently discovered. In that case,
however, the originator pharmaceutical company could be in the best position to
capture the new product and extend its legal monopoly on the underlying substance for
another period of 20 years.147 If a generic competitor did succeed in discovering the
new use, which he could presumably do under this option (and a proper research
exemption), his resulting patent could still be treated as a dependent patent under the
laws of some countries. In this case, the generic producer would need either to
negotiate a license to manufacture the original patented substance 148 or obtain a
compulsory license for dependent patents under Article 31(l) of the TRIPS Agreement.
Alternatively, the generic producer could also try to argue that the second patent was
not dependent on the first, because the first patentee never acquired the right to
exclude others from making the product for a new use he had never applied for nor
disclosed. Whether this approach succeeds or not would depend on local law. At least
in the member States of the EPC, the first patentee would acquire the right to exclude



144 Article 28.1(b), TRIPS Agreement.
145 Even if the patent on the underlying substance were limited to the uses referred to in the patent claims (“use-
bound claims”), product patents cover all possible ways of making the protected substance, see Box 1, above.
See below, section 2.5 (patent claims construction).
146 See, e.g., South Centre Guide, p. 153.
147 See South Centre Guide, p. 133. The twenty-year period would be reduced by the time needed to seek
marketing approval for the new use.
148 Ibid., p. 133.




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others from all possible ways of making a product, even if the product claims were
limited to certain uses only.



2. Under the second strategic option a developing country’s patent law could structure


the allowance of product patents on first medical uses so as to cover all uses of the
initial patented pharmaceutical product. This approach would automatically exclude
third parties from exploiting new uses of the same substance during the life of the
original patent only.149 It would permit the originator patentee to control both the
initial pharmaceutical product patent for such new use and any new pharmaceutical
uses discovered later without extending the life of the original patent at all.150 This
approach maintains some – albeit limited 151 – incentives to the originator patent
company to make and market products for new uses, while precluding the local
manufacture of generic products having the same uses during the life of the initial
pharmaceutical patent only. Alternatively, a country could strengthen the generic
competitors’ incentive by invoking the EPO fiction, under EPC Article 54(5), which
recognizes additional specific uses beyond a claim for all uses in the initial patentee’s
application. This situation is comparable to the first option discussed above, with the
difference that, in case no subsequent medical uses are claimed, the initial product
patent on a first medical use will comprise all possible subsequent uses, rather than
being use-bound. As under the first option, therefore, the originator pharmaceutical
company is in practice often the likeliest to discover subsequent new uses and benefit
from this legal fiction.152




2.3.2.1.2 Policy considerations: the promotion of incremental innovation in developing
countries


In general, neither the discovery of new medical uses of known products nor the other
relevant practices discussed below in this Guide (i.e. producing trivial product derivatives
and/or devising “selection patents”) constitute groundbreaking innovation. Such modest
contributions to the existing state of the art are referred to as “incremental innovation”. Such
innovation often lies within the range local firms, particularly those that could not realistically
aspire to developing truly new or non-obvious inventions that may require more technical
research capabilities than are available.

It could be argued that high standards for the definitions of novelty and non-obviousness,
which render more difficult the patenting of trivial variations that do not represent significant
gains in efficacy, may discourage local producers capable of incremental innovation at the
expense of foreign research-based pharmaceutical companies. This approach arguably frames
the problem incorrectly. The elimination of product patents on new uses and trivial
modifications frees up key active ingredients – provided that these ingredients are not
themselves covered by a separate patent – for generic production at prices that poor people



149 This assumes the member has decided not to follow EPO practice of admitting separate product patents on
specific second, third and subsequent uses despite the broad coverage under the initial first use patent of all
possible pharmaceutical uses (Article 54(5), EPC).
150 See South Centre Guide, pp. 132-33.
151 South Centre Guide, p. 133, noting that due to his monopoly position, the patentee’s inclination to engage in
costly R&D for new use discoveries will be very limited.
152 Ibid., p. 133.




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can afford. Sacrificing those pro-competitive benefits in order to stimulate investment in
incremental innovation seems a steep price to pay, especially when alternative modes of
protecting and stimulating incremental innovation that would not trigger such high social
costs exist. These alternatives to patents are discussed further below in the present section.

The need to consider incremental and sequential innovation in formulating national
intellectual property policy can lead to internal tensions between groups seeking maximum
freedom to compete, who may oppose patents altogether, and groups that have reached a high
level of technical capability, who want to lower the eligibility standards. A third group of
companies that can only attain incremental innovation may fall between these other two
interest groups. To address this problem, one must first clarify that the status of patentability
in any given developing country has no effect whatsoever on the ability of a local inventor to
patent his/her invention abroad in, say, the United States and EU countries. Under the doctrine
of independence of patents incorporated into TRIPS from Paris Convention Article 4bis, each
country must apply its own law to foreign inventors without regard to the state of patent
protection in that inventor’s home country. Thus, one who produces an incremental
innovation even in an LDC without any patent protection at all can nonetheless patent the
same invention in all foreign countries that normally protect incremental innovation in their
patent laws.

As discussed in the previous section, the legal requirements of the TRIPS Agreement leave
developing countries and LDCs plenty of legal space in which to design beneficial IP regimes
regarding the treatment of new medical uses of known substances. Here one may usefully
subdivide the question into “defensive” and “offensive” considerations. These terms are
meant to emphasize the need for poor countries to balance their concerns about the impact of
foreign patents on public health at home and the need to have the freedom to obtain affordable
medicines from any available source (defensive considerations) against the policy objective of
providing local entrepreneurs with incentives to invest in the production of medicines for both
domestic and foreign markets (offensive considerations).

From a defensive perspective, by negating the availability of both process and product patents
for new medical uses of known products on subject matter and other grounds, a member will
reduce the high costs of examining relevant patent applications and of testing novelty,
inventive step and industrial applicability on a case-by-case basis.153 To the extent that the
bulk of such new use patents emanates from foreign pharmaceutical suppliers, this strategy
would maximize the space available for qualified local producers to enter the market for the
relevant processes and products on a purely competitive basis, without de jure discrimination
against foreign patentees. At the same time, it would also broaden the space available for
obtaining generic substitutes, when available from foreign suppliers.

It follows, however, that the foreign patentee may not want to bring the relevant product or
process (including the product directly made from it) to the local market. This is always a
possibility when foreign patents are rejected in a member for any reason. The resulting need
can be met either by generic producers with a capacity to reverse engineer the non-patentable
invention or by resorting to the worldwide pharmaceutical products market, either under the
exhaustion doctrine, where the imported product has been sold abroad first at an affordable
price, even under patent protection, or by virtue of the new compulsory licensing machinery

153 This assumes that the novelty issue has been addressed by a suitable regulation, providing that a known
product, for which a new medical use has been discovered, may not be considered as new in the sense of
domestic patent law.




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established by the draft Article 31bis, TRIPS Agreement, for the purpose of acquiring
medicines that cannot be locally produced.154

From an offensive perspective, however, the strategy of totally barring product and process
patents on new medical uses of known products on subject matter and other grounds will yield
palpable social costs that must be carefully evaluated in light of local conditions. To begin
with, the absence of patent protection here could limit the incentives for local entrepreneurs
with sufficient capacity to invest in finding new uses of medical products initially developed
abroad. This effect could be offset by giving local producers the ability to generate sufficient
income to cover R&D costs under purely competitive local conditions, without the need for
strong exclusive property rights, as was the case in India until the introduction of
pharmaceutical product patents in 2005. Moreover, the lack of patentability in domestic law
will not prevent the local entrepreneur from patenting abroad any use he discovers under the
independence of patents doctrine of Article 4bis, Paris Convention, as long as the invention
meets the foreign members’ own subject matter and eligibility requirements. How these
considerations play out in practice largely depends on the local producers’ growing capability
to reverse-engineer or innovate over time.

A more serious objection to the denial strategy set out above is that it will prevent local
producers from patenting new uses of traditional medicines that have evolved from relevant
traditional knowledge. In many countries where there is a rich heritage of traditional
treatments, a case can be made for conferring intellectual property rights on those who invest
in applications of traditional knowledge, with particular reference to medicines, as long as
local access and benefit sharing regimes and relevant provisions of the Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD) are respected.155 Here again, the true social cost of denying any
protection for new medicinal uses will depend on the ability of local investors and innovators
to flourish under purely competitive conditions. Moreover, the effect on the local producer of
denying patent protection in cases of new uses of traditional medicine could also be
attenuated to an unknown extent by the undiminished ability of the local innovator to obtain
the relevant patents abroad and by the obligations on foreigners who make use of traditional
knowledge and local genetic resources to satisfy requirements of access and benefit sharing
under the CBD. An important element in this context is the actual market potential of
traditional knowledge-based medicinal applications, not all of which are likely to generate
consumer demand in those high income countries where they may be patentable.

Between these two extremes – a strategy of admitting patents on new uses of known
substances and a policy of excluding the same – there lies an intermediate strategy. Members
could consider adopting a “second-tier” intellectual property regime – or to extend an existing
regime – to cover some or all of the innovation excluded from patent protection on subject
matter or other grounds. For example, members could confer sui generis protection on new
medical uses of known substances. Such a law might draw upon principles applicable to
utility models, or, alternatively, build upon proposals for so-called “compensatory liability
regimes” (i.e. “use and pay” regimes).



154 See Abbott/Reichman. The exhaustion doctrine would apply to the extent that the original patent is still valid
in the country where patents on new uses of that product have been refused.
155 See T. Cottier, M. Panizzon, “Legal Perspectives on Traditional Knowledge: The Case for Intellectual
Property Protection”, in Maskus/Reichman, pp. 565-594; G. Dutfield, “Legal and Economic Aspects of
Traditional Knowledge”, in Maskus/Reichman, pp. 495-520; A. Taubman, “Saving the Village: Conserving
Jurisprudential Diversity in the International Protection of Traditional Knowledge”, in Maskus/Reichman, pp.
521-564. In this context, relevant multilateral provisions are in particular Articles 8(j), 15, and 16 of the CBD.




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Each of these alternative protection modalities offers advantages that may compare
favourably with patent protection as such. In addition, room for domestic flexibilities under
the TRIPS Agreement is much broader in these cases than with patents. While we cannot
explore these options in detail here, we urge developing country policymakers to explore
them more fully before taking final positions on patent law and policy.

Before entering into a discussion of utility models and compensatory liability regimes, the
following needs to be emphasized. Regardless of the options chosen, every developing
country that may have any capability to engage in improvements of existing inventions and
incremental innovation must be aware of the need to address so-called blocking patents, i.e.
patents (which are typically foreign) that stand in the way of locally developed improvements.
For this scenario, the TRIPS Agreement itself provides a solution in Article 31(l), which
allows a compulsory license that enables the second comer to practice a patent on an
improvement that might often infringe the dominant patent. Developing countries are free to
adopt legislation enabling the issuance of compulsory licenses for dependent patents
consistent with Article 31(l) of the TRIPS Agreement.

The first alternative to patents in the area of incremental innovation is protection through
utility models. This approach has been widely tested in practice. For example, Germany and
Japan, which introduced pharmaceutical product patents in 1968 and 1976, respectively,
successfully used their utility model laws to protect small-scale innovation for decades.156 The
Japanese utility model law, which once witnessed close to some 200,000 applications a
year,157 allowed Japanese inventors to protect small-scale improvements of foreign inventions.
Indeed, these local innovators often “surrounded” the foreign invention to the point where
negotiated cross-licensing became necessary. Utility models (“petty patents”), for which the
TRIPS Agreement does not provide any binding minimum standards, are usually granted for
small-scale inventions that do not meet the eligibility standards under patent law, especially
the inventive step requirement. Most of those jurisdictions that allow for utility model
protection either require a lower standard of inventive step or waive that requirement
altogether. 158 The advantages of utility models, as compared to patents, are their rapid
registration159 and low registration fees, which can accommodate small businesses.

In the area of new uses of known products, however, a problem could arise in respect to the
novelty requirement under utility model law: as observed under the previous section, the fact
that a known product is used for a new purpose does not alter the fact that the product itself is
not novel in the patent sense. In some jurisdictions, the novelty standard under utility model

156 See U. Suthersanen, “Utility Models and Innovation in Developing Countries”, UNCTAD-ICTSD Issue Paper
No. 13, Geneva, 2006 hereinafter Suthersanen.
157 See Suthersanen, p. 17.
158 See http://www.wipo.int/sme/en/ip_business/utility_models/utility_models.htm. In Australia, for example,
utility models (“innovation patents”) are required to include an “innovative” step, as a lower threshold than
inventive step. Going even further, the new IP Law of Rwanda includes no requirement of inventiveness at all.
The novelty and industrial application standards are comparable to those under Rwandan patent law. See
Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of Trade and Industry, “Rwanda Intellectual Property Policy”, (Kigali, November
2009), p. 17 (on file with the authors; hereinafter Rwanda’s IP Policy). By contrast, the inventive step standard
for utility models in Germany appears to be very close to the one required under German patent law, at least in
practice. See A. v. Uexküll/N. Hölder, “A clever move. Utility models for second medical use inventions in
Germany”, Patent World # 183, June 2006, pp. 22 ff. [hereinafter v. Uexküll/Hölder] (available at
http://www.vossiusandpartner.com/pdf/Clevermove1.pdf).
159 Unlike patents, there is usually no substantive examination of the utility model eligibility requirements, unless
through a court in case of infringement litigation.




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law may differ from the novelty standard under patent law.160 However, other WTO members
currently apply the same standard of novelty to patent and utility model law.161 In addition,
even for those members that have adopted different novelty standards, it would appear
difficult to affirm the novelty of a known product for a new use utility model claim, where the
product is covered by an existing domestic or foreign patent. These cases would require some
creative interpretation of the novelty standard, such as the language that is used in the new
(2007) version of the EPC in respect of new use patents (see above, box 2). In the area of
utility models, the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof/BGH, i.e. the highest
instance court for, inter alia, patent-related disputes) has paved the way for such an
interpretation of novelty: in 2005 the Court considered that a claim of a new medical use (i.e.
a process) of a known product would include elements of a product claim, because it concerns
the suitability of a (known) product for the indicated use. In the view of the BGH, the use of a
known product for a new purpose results in the novelty of the product for that particular use.
This is a much more permissive standard of novelty than the one suggested in this Guide for
the area of patent law.

The BGH thus ruled that new medical uses of known pharmaceutical products may be
protected as product claims through utility models.162 Developing countries that are interested
in promoting incremental innovation, but are concerned about the long term of exclusivity of
a patent and its implications on generic competition, could follow this approach.163 In that
case, a member that rejects product patent claims for new medical uses on the basis of the
novelty requirement would, in order to provide for utility model protection, have to devise a
novelty standard under its utility model law that is much more permissive than the one under
its patent law.



160 See v. Uexküll/Hölder, p. 24: in German utility model law, oral publication abroad does not destroy novelty,
as opposed to patent law.
161 See, for example, Rwanda’s IP Policy.
162 See v. Uexküll/Hölder, p. 23.
163 At the UNCTAD peer review meeting, some participants argued that utility model regimes would not provide
for appropriate incentives for incremental pharmaceutical innovation. Accordingly, utility models would protect
the shape or structure of a device and therefore most pharmaceutical inventions would have to be regarded as
being out of the scope of protection. It is true that former German legislation limited the scope of utility models
to the external configurations of the devices in question (see Suthersanen, p. 15, referring to the German
“Gebrauchsmustergesetz” of 1891). However, there are no internationally binding obligations on the design of
domestic utility model laws, and the limitation to external configurations is by no means required and has not
been maintained under German law (the German utility model law as last modified in 2006 no longer provides
for a scope of protection limited to external configurations but protects any invention of technical character that
are new, based on an inventive step and are capable of industrial application. See § 1 of the
Gebrauchsmustergesetz of 28 August 1986). A second argument raised in the context of the UNCTAD peer
review meeting against the appropriateness of utility model protection in the pharmaceutical context has been the
short and limited protection available under utility models, which would not adequately reflect the need to
recoup important investment costs incurred even when developing incremental inventions. Irrespective of the
actual costs involved in incremental inventions, the question arises whether IPRs should be understood as a
general means to recoup investment costs. According to the TRIPS Agreement (Article 7), the protection of IPRs
should “contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of
technology”. Furthermore, compared to other IP disciplines, the Agreement does not set minimum standards on
the protection of utility models. Thus, the rationale for granting exclusive rights is the promotion of innovation.
Costs invested in R&D may be recouped through the use of exclusive rights to the extent such investment has
actually contributed to innovative products. Whether or not an invention merits a patent does not depend on the
amount of investment made, but on the extent to which the invention meets the patentability criteria. If this is not
the case, as may be argued with respect to a number of incremental inventions, the product is not sufficiently
new or inventive to deserve patent protection. The lower degree of inventiveness may only be rewarded by a
weaker degree of exclusivity, as promoted through utility models.




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The term of protection for a utility model is normally much shorter than for a patent.164 From
a public policy standpoint, it seems much more appropriate to protect sub-patentable
inventions outside the patent system, rather than to alter the patentability criteria to
encompass small-scale inventions. The result of the latter would be to block access by
competitors to substances needed for product improvement over a considerable period of time.
This being said, it is clear that the same concern arises with utility models, which confer
exclusive rights similar to a patent, albeit for a much shorter period. It appears legitimate to
question, from a policy standpoint, the rationale for providing exclusive rights for inventions
that do not contain any inventive step.

This concern is addressed by the proponents of compensatory liability (use and pay) regimes,
which constitute another alternative means of encouraging incremental innovation outside the
patent system. In the literature, a regime of compensatory liability has been suggested as a
way to stimulate incremental innovation in general,165 as well as in new applications of
traditional knowledge in various contexts.166 A compensatory liability regime, as suggested in
the literature basically confers three separate rights on the incremental innovator:167


 The first right is the right to prevent second comers, for a certain period of time, from
wholesale imitations of the right owner’s product. In the case of traditional knowledge
products, the term of protection could be longer than for other small scale innovation,
taking account of the slow accretion of traditional knowledge over time. A term of
protection of 20 years has been recommended for these materials.168 In areas of more
systematic and commercially driven technological innovation, the term of protection
could be shorter, also taking account of divergent lengths of product life cycles. There
would be no need to protect short lived innovations from wholesale copying for a
period of more than a few years.


 Under the second right conferred, the incremental innovator may claim reasonable
compensation from any party that uses the protected innovation for value-adding
improvements for a specified period of time. This right, which could last for up to 20
years, could be preceded by a much briefer period of market exclusivity for the
inventor (e.g. one or two years), in order to give him the opportunity to establish his
brand. Under the subsequent, longer period of compensation, the original innovator
would be prevented from blocking the access of competitors to his innovation, unless
wholesale duplication is sought. Competitors would be authorized not only to use the
innovation for research activities to develop a superior product, but also to make and
sell that product. This differs from a utility model or patent regime, under which an
experimental use or research exception may enable competitors to use the protected
substance for improvement-oriented research, but not for the sale or other
commercialization of the results of their research before the expiry of the underlying
product patent, unless a license (voluntary or compulsory) is granted (see below,
Section 3.1.2, experimental use exception).



164 For example, the term of protection for utility models in Uganda is 10 years from the grant (see Section 69(3)
of the 2009 Industrial Property Bill), as compared to the TRIPS minimum term of protection of 20 years from
filing for patents (Article 33 of the TRIPS Agreement).
165 See J.H. Reichman, “Of Green Tulips and Legal Kudzu: Repackaging Rights in Subpatentable Innovation”,
Vanderbuilt Law Review, Vol. 53, 2000, pp. 1753 ff. [hereinafter Reichman, Green Tulips].
166 See J.H. Reichman, T. Lewis, “Using Liability Rules to Stimulate Local Innovation in Developing Countries:
Application to Traditional Knowledge” [hereinafter Reichman/Lewis], in Maskus/Reichman, pp. 337-366.
167 See Reichman/Lewis, 349-351.
168 Ibid.




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 As to the amount of compensation payable to the incremental innovator, Reichman has
suggested royalty rates between 3 and 9 per cent of the sales revenue of the improved
product.169 The amount of payable royalties would, inter alia, depend on the amount
of resources needed by the second comer to develop the improved technology or
application. Disputes over the amount of royalties to be paid to the incremental
innovator should be settled through mediation or arbitration. Importantly, the
mediation or arbitration procedures would not entitle the right holder to ask for an
injunction; his technology could be used at all times for follow-on improvements, with
royalties being payable after the final mediation or arbitration award is rendered.


 Finally, the third right conferred under a use and pay regime would entitle the original
inventor, for a certain period of time, to make use of a second comer’s technical
improvements, in exchange for the payment of reasonable compensation to the latter.
This right could be the same length of time as the second right (i.e. to claim reasonable
compensation for improvement uses of the original technology), although that detail
would be left to policymakers to decide.



In practice, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
(ITPGRFA) establishes a use and pay regime for plant breeders who breed new varieties off
of exemplars deposited in a repository managed by the Consultative Group on International
Agricultural Research (CGIAR). 170 Additionally, the United States Federal Insecticide,
Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) establishes a use and pay system in the area of
agricultural chemical test data, which is, however, preceded by a ten-year term of exclusivity
in these data.

Compensatory liability regimes of this kind would endow local innovators with incentives to
discover new medical uses of existing products, and could stimulate investment in
applications of traditional knowledge for this purpose.171 At the same time, it would attenuate
or eliminate the blocking effects of patents. To be sure, foreign patentees who are denied
protection on subject matter or on other grounds must have the right to obtain similar
protection under a member’s second-tier or alternative regime, by dint of the equal national
treatment requirement of the Paris Convention that has become an operative component of
TRIPS.172 In such a case, however, the foreign right holder would at most be entitled to
equitable compensation for improvement uses, and he could not prevent generic competitors
willing to pay such compensation from entering the market after a brief period of exclusivity.
Finally, local innovators who obtained only sui generis protection at home could nonetheless
file patent applications for the same uses abroad, in countries granting such patents, under the
independence of patents doctrine incorporated into TRIPS.



169 Reichman, Green Tulips, p. 1784.
170 See Articles 12.3(a) and 13 of the ITPGRFA. For more details, see M. Halewood, K. Nnadozie, “Giving
Priority to the Commons: The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture”, in The
Future Control of Food”, A Guide to International Negotiations and Rules on Intellectual Property, Biodiversity
and Food Security (editors Tansey G and Rajotte T.), Earthscan, London, 2008, pp. 115 ff.
171 For an elaborated model see Reichman/Lewis.
172 See Articles 2(1) of the Paris Convention and 2.1 of the TRIPS Agreement. For detailed analyses of the
national treatment clause (Article 3) under the TRIPS Agreement, see WTO Appellate Body, United States –
Section 211 Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1998, WT/DS176/AB/R, 2 January 2002 (“United States – Havana
Club”); and European Communities - Protection of Trademarks and Geographical Indications for Agricultural
Products and Foodstuffs, WT/DS174/R of 15 March 2005 (United States complaint) and WT/DS290/R of 15
March 2005 (Australian complaint). Both complaints were essentially based on the same claims, inter alia a
national treatment violation.




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2.3.2.2 Policy options


Option 1
A member may exclude product and process patents on new medical uses of previously
known products altogether, drawing on the broad interpretation of Article 27.3(a), TRIPS
Agreement, and a strict novelty standard as needed. While the TRIPS consistency of this
option cannot be guaranteed, there is reason to believe that the EPC precedents support it.
LDCs without any innovative pharmaceutical capacity might logically implement this option,
with the understanding that they may need ancillary legislation enabling them to obtain the
excluded medicines from other sources under the doctrine of international or regional
exhaustion (Article 6 of the TRIPS Agreement) or by imports under draft Article 31bis, if
they cannot reverse engineer or otherwise manufacture the needed substances themselves.

Option 2
The member may allow process patent protection for new medical uses of known substances
while restricting the scope of Article 27.3 (a) to treatments and methods affecting the medical
practitioners’ every day work. In the context of examining novelty (discussed below), the
member must also decide whether or not to allow product patents on first medical uses of a
known substance, as occurs at the EPO, or deny such protection, as occurs in the United
States. Generally speaking, these options are only of interest to countries with a relatively
advanced pharmaceutical sector and R&D capacity, and even under those circumstances these
options should be used with due care to the consequences of different drafting options.

Option 3
A member that excludes new medical uses of known substances from patent protection under
Option 1 may nonetheless wish to protect such uses through exclusive rights outside the
patent system, i.e. through utility models. These provide for shorter periods of exclusivity
than patents and may be granted for inventions that do not meet the stricter eligibility
requirements under patent law (in particular the novelty and the inventive step criteria). From
a policy perspective, this approach appears more appropriate than to lower the patentability
standards to embrace incremental innovations. On the other hand, it is questionable why
exclusive rights should be awarded at all to those inventions that lack inventive character.
Option 4 provides a noteworthy alternative in this regard.

Option 4
A member that excludes new medical uses of known substances from patent protection under
Option 1 may nonetheless wish to protect such uses through a tailor-made sui generis regime
that, for example, requires equitable compensation in exchange for the right to freely use the
protected innovation (except for purposes of wholesale imitation), after a brief period of
market exclusivity for the innovator. This option would provide incentives to local innovators
to find such uses, both with respect to the adaptation of foreign substances to local conditions
and also with respect to stimulating investment in new uses of substances rooted in traditional
knowledge. As opposed to option 3 (utility models), a system of compensatory liability would
not provide the right holder with the right to deny access of competitors to the protected
subject matter for purposes of product improvement.




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2.3.3 Variations in pharmaceutical composition or behaviour/product derivatives


2.3.3.1 Background


The above sections have outlined two possibilities through which a country may exclude
pharmaceutical products or their uses from qualifying as patentable subject matter (i.e. as
discoveries of naturally existing products and as new uses of known products). This section
considers briefly a third possible exclusion from patentable subject matter, i.e. pharmaceutical
derivatives of existing medical products.

As opposed to the new use issue, the question of patentability of pharmaceutical product
derivatives does not concern different uses of the same product, but different forms of a single
product. While the new use issue relates to several uses of identical products, the present
section discusses products that are similar to the original product but nevertheless not
identical, because of their slightly different chemical structures.173 These slight variations in
structure may or may not have some important effects on the medical efficacy of the
respective drug. Pharmaceutical companies likely want the derivatives of their own products
to be protectable by patent. For policy makers, it is important to decide whether product
derivatives merit patent protection. An example is a case where the derivative significantly
increases the efficacy of the medical product, thus contributing important benefits to society.

In this context, the question arises as to at which point in the patent examination process the
patent office should take the criterion of medical efficacy into account. This may be done at
two different stages:


 At the point of examination of patentable subject matter;
 At a later stage, i.e. when examining the patentability requirements of novelty,


inventive step and industrial applicability.

This Guide will refer to the issue of derivatives and enhanced medical efficacy at both of
these stages.


2.3.3.2 Policy options


One option for addressing patent applications based on minor structural modifications of
existing medical products is to take account of the question of efficacy of medical product
derivatives in the context of the examination of patentable subject matter. This is the approach
taken under the new Indian patent law. Article 3(d) of the new Indian Patent Act has pushed
subject matter exclusions in the area of medicines further than most other known patent laws.
It is understood to exclude any pharmaceutical product that does not rise to the level of “new
chemical entities” or a “new medical entity”. New chemical/ medical entities in this sense are



173 “Similar” in a legal sense means: “Nearly corresponding; … Word ‘similar’ is generally interpreted to mean
that one thing has a resemblance in many respects, nearly corresponds, is somewhat like … but is not
identical in form and substance, although in some cases ‘similar’ may mean identical or exactly alike. It is a
word with different meanings depending on context in which it is used” (Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition,
St. Paul, 1990, p. 1383; emphasis added). For some examples of these slight differences in chemical structures,
see Thomas, pp. 184-197.




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only those substances that, when compared to the known substance, show significant
improvements in medical efficacy.174

The particularity of the Indian approach is that the efficacy of a pharmaceutical product,
which is normally dealt with under the novelty and non-obviousness standards, will be tested
in the context of the subject matter examination, i.e. as a condition for qualifying as an
invention in the first place. While this Guide takes the position that the pertinent Indian
provision can be defended against allegations of TRIPS-inconsistency, 175 another option
would be to address the issue of patents based on minor structural changes of existing
pharmaceutical products that produce trivial differences in therapeutic effects under the
novelty and non-obviousness standards. In this Guide, the bulk of the discussion on
pharmaceutical product derivatives will therefore be provided in the context of analysing the
patent eligibility requirements. This being said, if the eligibility requirements are used to
repress the granting of patents for trivially modified products, there is a risk that patent
examiners and courts, over time, issue inconsistent decisions in particular cases. This case-by-
case approach tends inevitably to favour a downward pressure on eligibility standards, which
may occur before any given country is in a position to profit locally from such standards. To
avoid such a result, examiners and courts should be able to resort to a high level expert body,
staffed by people (not necessarily all nationals, but experts in which the government has
confidence) who have both the expertise to evaluate these issues in specific cases and a
common understanding of and dedication to the local patent policies and strategies.



174 This provision has been challenged by foreign pharmaceutical producers as inconsistent with TRIPS. By
contrast, distinguished academic authorities have expressed the view that the Indian provision can be defended.
See F. Abbott, “The Definition of Pharmaceutical Substance and Exclusion of Micro-Organisms under the WTO
TRIPS Agreement”, prepared for the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, 2005 (on file with the authors).
Hereinafter Abbott, The Definition of Pharmaceutical Substance. See also Box 4, below. In August 2007, the
Madras High Court rejected the Novartis challenge to Section 3 (d) of the Indian Patents Act. The High Court
confirmed the constitutionality of the Indian provision. On TRIPS, it said it had no jurisdiction to adjudicate the
matter and referred to the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding. This decision, however, did not deal with the
rejection by the Indian Patent Office of the actual Novartis patent application for an anti-cancer drug, “Glivec”.
The High Court only upheld the legality of the domestic provision on which the rejection was based. The
question whether this provision was applied correctly in the particular case was addressed by another court in
India, the IP Appellate Board (IPAB). In its decision of 26 June 2009, the latter confirmed the patent office’s
rejection of a patent for Glivec, denying “significantly enhanced efficacy” of Glivec under Article 3(d) over a
previously known molecule (see the IPAB decision in Novartis AG v Union of India et al. at
www.spicyip.com/docs/NovartisvsUnionofIndia.pdf; see also P.B. Jayakumar, “Novartis loses battle for cancer
drug patent”, Business Standard of 5 July 2009). In addition, the IPAB ruled that because of the price charged
for Glivec, poor cancer patients in India would not be able to afford the drug, which in turn would threaten many
people’s lives and thus create public disorder in the country (p. 191 of the decision). The IPAB thus invoked
Section 3(b) of the Indian Patents Act, which implements Article 27.2 of the TRIPS Agreement (exclusion from
patentability for reasons of public order). Following the IPAB decision, Novartis has appealed to India’s
Supreme Court, see IP Watch “Novartis Persists in Challenge To Indian Patent Law; India Rejects More AIDS
Drugs Patents”, online publication, 2 September 2009 (available at www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2009/
09/02/novartis-persists-in-challenge-to-indian-patent-law-india-rejects-more-aids-drugs-patents/). For further
discussion of Article 3 (d) see Section 2.4.2.2. In another case (an interim proceeding), the Delhi High Court in
2008 refused to grant an injunction to the patentee (Roche) on the basis of public interest – the Court considered
the public interest to be affected if patients no longer had access to cheaper generic copies of the patented drug
(F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. & Anr. V Cipla Ltd.).
175 See Section 2.4.2.2.




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2.4 Patentability criteria


2.4.1 Background


In order to be protected with a patent, inventions covering patentable subject matter still need
to meet three basic criteria, as required under the TRIPS Agreement (Article 27.1): they need
to


 Be new;
 Involve an inventive step; and
 Be capable of industrial application.



These terms will be explained in the following sections.


2.4.1.1 Novelty


The TRIPS Agreement does not define novelty. According to traditional patent law that
prevails in many developed country jurisdictions, this requirement generally means that
information describing the invention must not have been available to the public prior to the
original application date (the priority date).176 If such information was available to the public
before that date, it is considered to be part of the “prior art”. The quality and nature of the
information qualifying as prior art varies from one jurisdiction to another. Members are free
to adopt strict standards of novelty, which would treat more inventions as prior art in the
public domain and thus make it more difficult to obtain exclusive rights in any given product
or process. As one scholar put it: “while the term ‘new’ indicates that an invention should be



176 The priority date refers to the date on which a patent applicant files her/his first patent application for a given
invention in any WTO member. If the inventor files an application for the same or an equivalent invention in any
other member within 12 months from the filing of the first application, the later application will be regarded as if
it had been filed on the same day as the original application. Thus, the later application enjoys a priority status
with respect to all applications relating to the same invention filed after the date of the first application. Likewise,
a public use or publication of the invention between the date of the first and a subsequent application will not
destroy the novelty or inventive step of the subsequent application, even though it was filed after such public use
of the invention (see WIPO, “Intellectual Property Reading Material”, Geneva, March 1998, p. 235-237; see also
Article 4 A. (1), and C. (1) of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, which is binding for
WTO members, Article 2.1, TRIPS Agreement). The later application concerns an equivalent invention (thus
benefiting from the priority right) where it is implied in the priority application, according to an average expert
skilled in the relevant art. Competing applications on the same or equivalent invention will thus be considered as
lacking novelty, as the first application has already disclosed the invention to the public. Countries that are
Parties to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) have to extend the 12-month time limit under the Paris
Convention (national filing) to a 30-month (20 months in some countries) period for international filings, during
which the application will be granted priority as under a national filing (see Article 4A(2) of the Paris
Convention in conjunction with Articles 8(2), 11(3), (4), 22(1) of the PCT). The applicant of an international
patent application has 30 (20) months from the priority date to provide the designated national patent offices
with a copy of the international application, a translation thereof (as prescribed), and to pay the national fee (if
any). This extended priority period may cause generic producers to delay a decision to enter a market in a given
country until the expiry of the 30-month period. Inventions claimed by the original applicant in subsequent
patent applications within that period would preserve their novelty and could potentially block generic
production in that territory. See WHO, “Workbook and Diagnostic Tool on Trade and Health: Medicines,
Diagnostics and Devices, Vaccines and Intellectual Property Rights” (Section 3m of the Workbook), by F.
Abbott, in Building a National Strategy on Trade and Health: A Diagnostic Tool for Policy Makers,
forthcoming, 2011.




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distinguished from subject matter that preceded it, there is scope for deciding how far ‘prior
art’ should disqualify later claims. The criterion of “new-ness” or novelty may be construed
… such that only a later claim exactly the same as the prior art is considered to lack novelty.
Alternatively, the criterion of novelty may be construed … so that subject matter implicit or
inherent in the prior art is considered to defeat novelty.”177

In particular, a strict novelty standard could provide that:


 Both oral and written prior disclosures of the invention to the public anywhere in the
world results in a rejection of the novelty of a patent application (worldwide novelty,
as opposed to domestic novelty);


 Even if the invention is not publicly available in a single document, but can be derived
from a combination of publications, it is considered to be part of prior art and
therefore is not new;178


 Even the theoretical possibility for the general public of having access to information
renders it, by definition, available to the public.179 However, information which may
be accessed only by a limited group of people is not part of the prior art. Thus, a
document distributed to a closed meeting under confidentiality rules does not
constitute prior art; on the other hand, where such document may be further distributed
by the participants to third parties, it could be considered as falling within the prior
art;180


 Information that has not been published in express terms, but that may be implied in
expressly published information may also be regarded as prior art (“implicit
teachings”, “functional identity”).181 In particular, such prior art may be derived from
training activities, judgment, intuition, as well as tacit knowledge obtained through
field experience.



Many jurisdictions consider as part of the prior art information contained in other patent
applications, which were filed before the date of filing of the application under examination,
but are only published on or after the date of that filing.182


2.4.1.2 Inventive step



177 See Abbott, The Definition of Pharmaceutical Substance.
178 By contrast, the United States requires complete disclosure in a single publication to destroy novelty, despite
the fact that a skilled person may have been able to derive the invention without effort from a combination of
publications. See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 359.
179 This strict approach has been developed under European Patent Office case law (case T 444/88). See
UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 359.
180 See Thomas, p. 116.
181 See Correa, 2000, p. 41, referring to European Patent Office practice. The greater the extent to which implicit
teachings in existing information are admitted, the more often will novelty of new applications be rejected. The
view was expressed at the UNCTAD peer review meeting that the practice of rejecting novelty on the basis of
implicit teachings would be rather ambiguous, creating legal uncertainty, which in turn would deter patenting
and innovation would suffer from lack of protection. On the other hand, even if implicit teachings are considered
not to destroy novelty, they may be taken into account when examining the obviousness of the invention: the
average expert skilled in the art may be deemed to derive existing prior art from multiple sources, and express
references are not necessarily required to destroy non-obviousness. See below, Section 2.4.1.2.
182 Under the EPC, this concept is restricted to European patent applications (Article 54.3). The TRIPS
Agreement does not obligate members to limit such prior art to patent applications filed within their own
jurisdiction. Thus, members may provide that yet unpublished patent applications filed anywhere in the world
may destroy novelty. This will increase the likelihood that an application is rejected due to lack of novelty.




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The TRIPS Agreement also does not define inventive step. According to the classical
definition available in many developed country jurisdictions, an invention shall be considered
as involving an inventive step if, taking into account the prior art, it would not have been
obvious to a person skilled in the art (sometimes called the “routine engineer”) on the date of
filing or priority. While for the novelty test (see above), a quantitative difference between the
invention at issue and prior art is sufficient, the inventive step test requires the new invention
to qualitatively exceed what the routine engineer with knowledge of the prior art could
produce.183 As will be shown in this Section, the inventive step analysis can be applied more
or less strictly. The higher the prior art hurdle that the inventor must exceed to qualify for the
protection of a given substance, the more likely it is that this substance will remain in the
public domain freely available for generic production. Conceptually, the inventive step test
consists of two basic elements:


 Identification of the relevant prior art;
 Assessment of the extent to which the invention embodied in the claims was obvious


to a person skilled in the art, who had knowledge of the relevant prior art. This
assessment is usually made up of subjective and objective considerations/factors.



Identification of relevant prior art


In the context of the inventive step test, the identification of prior art serves a different
purpose than it does under the novelty test, as it is used as a basis for the qualitative
assessment of non-obviousness. While under the novelty test, any publicly available
information is taken into account as prior art (thus potentially destroying novelty), prior art
under the inventive step test is often limited to the publicly available knowledge that an
average expert skilled in the art would reasonably consider pertinent in the particular case.
Thus, where an average expert has no good reason to use certain publicly available
information in the pursuit of a technical solution, such information would usually not be taken
into account as a basis for assessing non-obviousness.184 The less prior art taken into account,
the greater is the likelihood that the invention will be assessed as non-obvious.

In jurisdictions such as the EPO, the amount of prior art relevant for the assessment of non-
obviousness is further limited by the rule that prior patent applications shall not be taken into
account (Article 56, second sentence, of the EPC).185 This reduces the quantity of available
prior art from which a person skilled in the art may infer a new invention. Without pertinent
information contained in other patent applications, it is more likely that the new invention will
be characterized as non-obvious to a person skilled in the art. The rationale behind this rule is
that the non-obviousness of an invention is assessed against the expertise of a routine engineer;
the engineer would have no reason to consider information contained in another patent
application that was not yet published during the time the inventor was devising his invention
as pertinent. Including such information in the relevant prior art would base the inventive step
assessment not on the subjective position of the routine engineer, but on that of an omniscient
person, which would contradict the basic understanding of the inventive step test.

Assessment of non-obviousness

183 See also M. Franzosi, “Novelty and Non-Obviousness. The Relevant Prior Art”, The Journal of World
Intellectual Property, Vol. 3, September 2000, No. 5, p. 683-695 hereinafter Franzosi, p. 683.
184 See Franzosi, p. 693, referring to EPO case law. According to that author, regard has to be given (in the
context of determining the decisive prior art) to what a skilled person would have done, as opposed to what he
could have done, thus emphasizing a subjective prior art assessment rather than an objective one.
185 On the other hand, prior patent applications may be relevant when determining what is prior art under the
novelty test, see below Section 2.4.1.1.




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On the basis of the relevant prior art, as described above, the patent examiner will assess
whether the claimed invention would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art.
Where the patent examiner deems that this is the case, there is a lack of inventive step and the
invention deserves no patent protection. In order to examine non-obviousness, patent
examiners in developed countries typically rely on considerations related to the person of the
inventor (“subjective” considerations/factors), and in addition to factors related to the
invention itself (“objective” or “secondary” considerations/factors).186

Subjective factors


Considerations relating to the inventor address the following two issues:
 The level of ordinary skill in the pertinent art: it is advisable to determine what a


hypothetical, ordinarily skilled artisan would have been able to infer from the prior art
at the time the patent was filed.187 WTO members are free to provide for specific
factors to be taken into account in this context. For example, the United States Court
of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) looks at


o The educational levels of both the inventor and active workers in the field;
o The type of problems encountered in the art;
o The prior art solutions to those problems;
o The sophistication of the technology at issue; and
o The rapidity with which the invention was made.188


In addition, it is important to note that, in the determination of the level of ordinary
skills, a country is not bound to refer to the expertise available in its own territory.
Developing countries, by taking foreign expertise into account, may considerably
elevate the level of ordinary skill in the relevant prior art, thereby increasing the
likelihood of a negative finding on the inventive step/non-obviousness requirement.


 The differences between the prior art and the invention at issue: the core question
is whether, based on the prior art, a person having ordinary skills in the pertinent art
would be likely to develop the invention at issue. Members are free to set up certain
criteria for determining cases of (non-)obviousness in specific product areas. In the
pharmaceutical context, for example, it is often assessed in terms of the predictability
of the claimed invention, based on prior art teachings. Moreover, under United States
Federal Circuit case law, structural similarities between a prior art chemical
compound and a claimed substance may under certain circumstances establish a prima
facie case of obviousness of the claimed invention. 189 Also, the presence of a
reasonable expectation of success to come up with the new product may be
considered an indication of obviousness, especially when multiple prior art references
must be combined.



Oftentimes, prior art does not exist in a single document but is spread across a multitude of
sources (“prior art references”).The question arises as to what extent prior art references, in
order to render a claimed invention obvious, must contain precise guidance (technically



186 Note that the reference to “secondary” (especially in United States law) does not indicate the reduced
importance of these factors but the fact that considerations related to the invention itself often occur only some
time after the patent has been granted. Thus, they cannot be taken into account during the granting procedure
before the patent office, but only for infringement proceedings before the courts. For this reason, the subjective
considerations will be presented first.
187 See Thomas, pp. 156/157.
188 Ibid, p. 157.
189 See Thomas, p. 159. For more details, see Section 2.4.2.2.




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termed “teachings”, “suggestions” or “motivations”) for the patent applicant to combine
multiple prior art references to arrive at the desired solution.

In its KSR decision handed down on 30 April 2007,190 the United States Supreme Court found
that a claimed invention may be obvious despite the absence of clear teachings, suggestions or
motivations to combine various prior art references. The Supreme Court emphasized that
examiners and courts, “need not seek out precise teachings directed to the challenged claim’s
specific matter, for a court can consider the inferences and creative steps a person of ordinary
skill in the art would employ”.191 This approach stresses the subjective perspective of the
person having ordinary skill in the art,192 who, under a rigid requirement of precise prior art
teachings would be treated as a technical dumbbell with little initiative of his own.

The Supreme Court thereby elevated the non-obviousness standard to conform to its own
earlier case law. In the Graham case of 1966, the Supreme Court had rejected the requirement
that prior art references, in order to destroy non-obviousness, were required to address the
precise problem that the patentee was trying to solve.193 The Court in KSR reiterated its earlier
instructions in Graham concerning the need for caution in granting a patent based on the
combination of elements found in the prior art: warning that combination patents require a
cautious and common sense approach, the Court observed that the diversity of modern
technology “counsels against confining the obviousness analysis by a formalistic conception
of the words’ teaching, suggestion, and motivation, or by overemphasizing the importance of
published articles and the explicit content of issued patents. In many fields there may be little
discussion of obvious techniques or combinations, and market demand, rather than scientific
literature, may often drive design trends. Granting patent protection to advances that would
occur in the ordinary course without real innovation retards progress and may, for patents
combining previously known elements, deprive prior inventions of their value or utility.”194

The Supreme Court added that, with regard to combination patents, “any need or problem
known in the field and addressed by the patent can provide a reason for combining the
elements in the manner claimed.”195 Moreover, in the opinion of the Supreme Court, it was an
error on the part of the previous instance to focus only on those prior art elements designed to
solve the same problem, because “[i]t is common sense that familiar terms may have obvious
uses beyond their primary purposes, and a person of ordinary skill often will be able to fit the
teachings of multiple patents together like pieces of a puzzle.”196

Indeed, “[w]hen there is a design need or market pressure to solve a problem and there are a
finite number of identified, predictable solutions, a person of ordinary skill in the art has good
reason to pursue the known options within his or her technical grasp. If this leads to the
anticipated success, it is likely the product not of innovation but of ordinary skill and common
sense.”197



190 See Supreme Court of the United States, KSR International Co. v. Teleflex Inc. et al., 550 U.S. (2007),
Syllabus hereinafter KSR Syllabus.
191 KSR Syllabus, p. 4.
192 See Amicus Brief on KSR International Co. v. Teleflex Inc. et al, pp. 5/6, arguing that the Federal Circuit’s
emphasis of prior art references blurs the distinction between the novelty and inventive step requirements.
193 See Supreme Court of the United States, Graham v. John Deere Co. of Kansas City, 383 U.S. 1, especially pp.
17-18.
194 KSR Syllabus, p. 5.
195 Ibid.
196 Ibid.
197 Ibid, p. 6.




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It is unclear, at the time of writing, to what extent United States courts, and in particular the
CAFC will follow the Supreme Court’s approach to examining non-obviousness in KSR.
While subsequent case law in the area of gene patents seems to have abandoned the teaching,
suggestion, and motivation test,198 the CAFC has continued applying that test in the context of
small molecule patents. 199 Whatever the final outcome in the United States, developing
country authorities concerned with the granting of new patents for trivial improvements to
existing inventions, such as combining one drug with another, should consider building upon
the United States Supreme Court’s KSR decision in the context of their own laws, regulations
and examining procedures. The new approach may reduce the number of trivial or dubious
patents, especially in the information technology and pharmaceutical industries.

For example, obviousness may be inferred not only from express single or various prior art
references, but equally and in particular from the nature of the problem to be solved, the prior
art as a whole (including implicit teachings) and the typical levels of creativity and insight of
those skilled in the art at the time the application was filed.200 Thus, an invention could still be
considered obvious in cases where, despite the lack of any explicit and specific prior art
reference leading to the desired solution, the typical level of creativity and insight of a person
skilled in the art would suggest the capability and motivation of such person to come up with
the solution at issue or to combine multiple prior art references to that end.

Properly applied, the non-obviousness standard – as reiterated by the Supreme Court – could
in and of itself enable developing country authorities to regulate and contain most of the
problems raised by the patenting of minor innovations in any field, and decrease the need to
invoke other defensive doctrinal techniques elsewhere discussed in this Guide. It should be
remembered, however, that many OECD countries have developed sui generis regimes, such
as utility model laws, specifically to provide some protection to sub-patentable or incremental
innovation, and that other promising proposals for using alternatives to patents for this
purpose have been put forward, such as compensatory liability regimes (see above, Section
2.3.2). Policymakers interested in special protection outside of the patent system for small-
scale innovations within the reach of local entrepreneurs may wish to consider these
alternatives.

Objective factors


So far, we have discussed widely recognized subjective factors (i.e. related to the inventor)
bearing on the evaluation of non-obviousness. In practice, courts and administrators in
developed countries often supplement these factors by so-called “additional” or “secondary”,
objective factors (i.e. related to the invention) bearing on non-obviousness. Most of these
objective factors should be used with care, as they tend to lower the bar applied in the context
of the inventive step test.

198 In re Kubin, 561 F.3d 1351 (Fed. Cir. 2009).
199 For an overall discussion of related case law, see P. Rao and G. Best, “Will KSR’s Effect On Small Molecule
Patents Be Limited?”, IP Watch online publication of 14 September 2009, available at http://www.ip-
watch.org/weblog/2009/09/14/will-ksrs-effect-on-small-molecule-patents-be-limited /. See also A. Mc Tague,
“ Secondary Pharmaceutical Patents Post-KSR : Do They Have A Future ? ”, Pharmaceutical Law & Industry
Report, Vol. 6, No. 3, 18 January 2008 ; J.M. Mueller, “Chemicals, Combinations, and ‘Common Sense’: How
the Supreme Court’s KSR Decision is Changing Federal Circuit Obviousness Determinations in Pharmaceutical
and Biotechnology Cases”, Northern Kentucky Law Review, Vol. 35, No. 4, 2008.
200 The importance of this point has been emphasized by the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC), see
“To Promote Innovation: The Proper Balance of Competition and Patent Law and Policy”, Executive Summary,
pp. 11-12 hereinafter FTC Report (available at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2003/10/innovationrpt.pdf ).




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Under United States and German patent law, for example, the following additional
considerations have been used to reinforce a finding of non-obviousness of a claimed
invention (all these cases indicate that there is a difference between the prior art on the one
hand and the claimed invention on the other):201


 Technical progress over prior art: this consideration may be used under
German patent law, but is not mandatory. The 2005 Indian Patents Act seems
to have gone a step further by expressly requiring a technical advance over
prior art;202


 Commercial success of the invention, on the condition that the success is
specifically due to the claimed features of the invention. Members may provide
that this condition has to be proved by the inventor in case the patent is
challenged. 203 Again, the Indian Patents Act expressly requires “economic
significance” for the invention to be non-obvious, alternatively or additionally
to the technical advance requirement (see above);204


 Copying of the invention, on the condition that the motivation to copy is based
on the assumption that independent development of the invention on the basis
of prior art is too difficult;


 Long-felt need/prior failures of others to find a solution to a technical problem:
The fact that a given technical problem has remained unresolved for a long
time indicates the non-obviousness of the solution eventually found, on the
condition that the solution directly addresses the need;


 Scepticism of skilled persons that the claimed invention could be achieved;
 Unexpected results: The TRIPS Agreement does not require an invention to


generate unexpected results to be patentable. It is widely recognized that
lengthy, trial and error-based research may lead to inventive results deserving a
patent. Nevertheless, results that are unexpected for the average expert in the
field normally indicate non-obviousness of the claimed invention.



In conclusion, the inventive step standard defines the line between free competition and
exclusive protection that can spur innovation. An indirect function of the patent system is to
mandate that non-patentable products and processes remain subject to free competition. How
and where a country draws the line between free competition and exclusive rights depends on
many factors, including its industrial policy, its innovative capabilities and the desire of its
industries to maintain the freedom to reverse engineer. A country may change its standards
over time, and this has occurred in the United States, for example, where even though heavy
investment in basic research has led to pressures for broader protection of research results and
their application, the United States Supreme Court has once again adopted a more pro-
competitive approach (KSR). In principle, developing countries with a weaker technological
base will generate more access to reverse engineering and more benefits from free
competition by applying a relatively high standard of non-obviousness. However, the trade-
offs of such a policy might be that local inventors would find it more difficult to obtain
patents205 and foreign investors may be more reluctant to license their technologies or allow
imports of their high-tech products.

201 See Ensthaler, p. 117; Thomas, pp. 167 ff.
202 See Indian Patents Act 2005, § 2 (1) (ia).
203 The FTC has proposed this arrangement of the burden of proof in the context of the United States patent
system, see FTC Report, p. 11.
204 Indian Patents Act 2005, §2(1).
205 At home, but not abroad.




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2.4.1.3 Industrial application


This is the third and last requirement that an invention needs to meet in order to be protected
by a patent. The objective of patent law is the promotion of technical and practical solutions,
rather than the monopolization of theoretical knowledge, and therefore an invention has to be
capable of industrial application. Again, the TRIPS Agreement provides no definition of this
term. According to the traditional concept used in European countries, an invention is capable
of industrial application if it may be manufactured or used in any commercial activity,
including agriculture.206 In other words, developments not leading to an industrial product or
lacking technical effect cannot be patented. This definition seems stricter than the concept of
“utility” followed under United States law. Until 2001, an invention under United States
patent law only needed to be operable and useful in the most general sense, i.e. capable of
providing some benefit to humanity. 207 However, the 2001 United States Patent and
Trademark Office (USPTO) Utility Examination Guidelines toughened this standard by
requiring credible, specific and substantial utility, particularly with respect to biotechnological
inventions. For the pharmaceutical context, this means that purely experimental inventions do
not seem to be patentable under either EPO or USPTO standards (for lack of an industrial
product under the EPO concept of industrial applicability;208 for lack of “substantial” utility in
a real world context under the USPTO concept of utility).209 This has important implications
regarding to what extent research tools used by the pharmaceutical industry in the
development of new medicines may be patented.210 Only those research tools for which
specific uses may be identified would seem to pass the industrial applicability/utility test, as
they would result in an industrial product having substantial utility in a real world context. On
the other hand, research tools that may be used for a variety of different uses, such as
expressed sequence tags (ESTs)211 and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)212 cannot be



206 See § 5 (1) of the German Patents Act.
207 UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 361.
208 See, for example, EPO Boards of Appeal, Decision of 11 May 2005, case no. T 0870/04 - 3.3.8, p. 20,
paragraph 21: “In the board’s judgment, although the present application describes a product (a polypeptide),
means and methods for making it, and its prospective use thereof for basic science activities, it identifies no
practical way of exploiting it in at least one field of industrial activity. In this respect, it is considered that a
vague and speculative indication of possible objectives that might or might not be achievable by carrying out
further research with the tool as described is not sufficient for fulfillment of the requirement of industrial
applicability. The purpose of granting a patent is not to reserve an unexplored field of research for an applicant.”
209 For United States law, see Thomas, pp. 68-69. This being said, some differences do remain between EPO and
USPTO standards, but are not directly relevant in the pharmaceutical context. For instance, business plans, while
providing a “real world context” and thus satisfying substantial utility under the USPTO standards, do not
constitute an industrial product generating a technical effect under EPO standards. This being said, business
methods under United States law could be denied the qualification as patentable subject matter, to the extent they
do not meet the CAFC’s “machine-or-transformation test”, see above, Section 2.3.1.1. But see also the United
States Supreme Court in Bilski v. Kappos, stressing the need of a case-by-case analysis beyond the “machine-or-
transformation test”.
210 The United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) Working Group on Research Tools defines the term
“research tools” in its broadest sense, i.e. “to embrace the full range of resources that scientists use in the
laboratory, while recognizing that from other perspectives the same resources may be viewed as ‘end products.’
For our purposes, the term may thus include cell lines, monoclonal antibodies, reagents, animal models, growth
factors, combinatorial chemistry libraries, drugs and drug targets, clones and cloning tools …, methods,
laboratory equipment and machines, databases and computer software.” (Available at:
www.nih.gov/news/researchtools/).
211 An EST is a tiny portion of an entire gene that can be used to help identify unknown genes and to map their
positions within a genome, in a quick and inexpensive fashion. See National Center for Biotechnology
Information, “ESTs, Gene Discovery Made Easier” (available at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/About/primer/est.html).




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considered “industrially applicable” as such. According to United States Federal Circuit
jurisprudence, patent applicants may not easily avoid this restriction by merely referring to
some trivial use.213 The patent applicant would have to disclose the particular function for
which use of the EST or SNP is intended, and the scope of the patent would be limited to this
specific use. This is the approach taken under the French and German patent laws in respect
of human gene patents.214


2.4.2 Patentability criteria in the pharmaceutical context


As shown above, under the TRIPS Agreement governments are free to interpret the
patentability criteria narrowly or widely. In the public health context there are several cases
under which the choice of a broad or a narrow approach will have important implications on
the availability of pharmaceutical substances for generic production. These cases will be
presented in the following sections. In general, they all concern scenarios under which the
holder of a pharmaceutical patent seeks to extend the scope of the patent beyond the original
claims in order to obtain another period of exclusivity on the patented substance or some of its
elements (the “ever-greening” of patents). As a general rule, it may be stated that the TRIPS
Agreement leaves members the freedom to either promote or prevent patent “ever-greening”.


2.4.2.1 New uses of known products


Background


The issue of new uses of known products has already been dealt with under Section 2.3 on
patentable subject matter. Granting another patent on a known product for a newly discovered
use adds an additional layer of exclusive rights on the same chemical entity. This constitutes a
classical case of “ever-greening” and considerably extends the period during which generic
producers may not legally manufacture the protected substance. As discussed, new uses may
be denied product patent protection to the extent that the (known) product in question fails
the novelty test, either on the basis of a specific regulation governing novelty in such cases, or
on the basis of case-by-case examination. In addition, process patent protection may be
denied where domestic laws implement a broad exemption from patentability for methods of
medical treatment, in accordance with Article 27.3 (a) of the TRIPS Agreement.

However, where members elect not to exclude new use patents à priori by regulation (on
subject matter or novelty grounds), they will have to examine new uses on a case-by-case
basis in light of the patent eligibility criteria of novelty, inventive step and industrial

212 SNPs are variations of a DNA sequence. Variations in the DNA sequences of humans can affect how humans
develop diseases, respond to pathogens, chemicals, drugs, etc. As a consequence SNPs are of great value to
biomedical research and in developing pharmacy products.
See http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/faq/snps.shtml.
213 See In re Fisher, 421 F.3d 1365, 1373 (Fed. Cir. 2005), where the United States Federal Circuit rejected the
patentability of ESTs if disclosure of their use is not more specific than broadly referring to the isolation of
protein-encoded genes for the purpose of performing further research. This being said, the decision whether a
disclosed use shows a satisfactory degree of substantial and specific utility remains a delicate one.
214 See Article L. 613-2-1 (France) and § 1a (4) of the Patents Act (Germany); both provisions are supposed to
implement the EU Biopatent Directive (98/44/EC), in particular Article 5 (3) on the limitation of the scope of
patents on gene sequences.




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applicability. The application of these criteria to new uses of known products may follow a
literal interpretation of the patent eligibility requirements, along the lines of United States
patent law in this context,215 and without resorting to complex legal fictions as the EPC does.
Under a literal, straightforward application of the eligibility criteria, members could address
the patentability of first, second, and subsequent “new” medical uses of known products as
follows.


 First medical uses of known products could be considered as not qualifying for
product patent protection, due to the product’s lack of novelty: the mere discovery
of a medical use of an existing product does not alter the fact that the product as
such has been available to the public before.216 As for process patent protection, the
first medical use would likely meet the novelty criterion. Whether or not the new
use involves an inventive step may be made contingent on the predictability of the
development of the new medical use, based on the analysis of the known substance
by a person skilled in the art. New pharmaceutical uses (first or subsequent) are
often predictable for pharmaceutical experts in developed countries. Developing
countries are free to determine the criteria for obviousness of an invention based on
the average scientific skills prevailing in developed countries, potentially helping to
reduce the number of non-obvious inventions. Finally, the new use is industrially
applicable to the extent that the pharmaceutical industry is capable of applying the
new use to the human body to produce certain effects thereon. Thus, the inventive
step requirement appears to be the decisive criterion to affirm or reject the
patentability of first medical uses under process claims. As stated above, the
patentability of a first medical use under a product claim may be excluded through a
strict application of the novelty requirement.



 Regarding second and subsequent medical uses, the drug itself would arguably


not be patentable for lack of novelty, as the product as such has been available to
the public as a medical product for a different use. The protection of the second or
subsequent medical use through a process patent (including new ways of
administering known pharmaceutical products) would depend on multiple
considerations. As opposed to the first use, it cannot be argued that the medical use
as such is novel. However, as process claims may relate to the particular use of a
product, the use of a drug previously known, e.g. to cure cancer in the context of an
HIV/AIDS treatment could be considered novel. For the inventive step test, the
question is whether the purpose of the second use (e.g. employing an anti-cancer
drug to combat HIV/AIDS) is non-obvious to a person skilled in the art (i.e. a
pharmacologist or pharmacist). This will depend to a great extent on the
circumstances of the particular case. As stated in the context of first medical uses,
the non-obviousness standard may be construed rather strictly to limit patent grants
to genuinely unpredictable developments, and the United States Supreme Court in
KSR has made clear that such developments are nor precluded by the lack of precise



215 As explained in the overall discussion of the new use issue, United States patent law denies product patent
protection on any new medical uses, allowing only process claims. These have to refer to a method of use. Even
if intended for a new purpose, the method of use is only considered as new and involving an inventive step
(“non-obviousness” under United States law) where the particular method at issue could not have been
anticipated by other (existing) methods. See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 356. See also Thomas, pp. 38;
46-49; 235-237.
216 Note the opposite approach taken under Article 54(4) and (5) of the EPC, as well as by the German Federal
Court of Justice, based on legal fictions (see Section 2.3.2, above).




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prior art leads. For the industrial application test, the same arguments that are made
regarding first uses apply. Again, the inventive step requirement is the decisive
tool that governments may use in order to influence the extent to which process
patents are granted on second uses. Regarding product patents, a strict application
of the novelty requirement justifies their rejection also for second and subsequent
medical uses.



Policy options


Under a literal application of the patent eligibility criteria, developing countries could choose
among the following main options.217


 Option 1: Exclude new use patents à priori by regulation:
 Process claims on subject matter grounds (Article 27.3(a), TRIPS


Agreement);
 Product claims on novelty grounds.


 Option 2: Exclude only product patents by regulation, and continue to allow
process patents that include new uses on a case-by-case basis, as explained above.
As observed in the overall discussion of new uses in the context of patentable
subject matter, granting process patents for new uses may only be of interest to
countries with a relatively advanced pharmaceutical sector and R&D capacity, and
even under those circumstances, process patents should be used with due care,
above all through a rigorous application of the inventive step requirement.



 Option 3: Exclude new medical uses of known substances from patent protection


but continue to protect such uses through exclusive rights outside the patent system,
i.e. through utility models. Such alternative protections provide for shorter periods
of exclusivity than patents and may be granted for inventions that do not meet the
stricter eligibility requirements under patent law (in particular the novelty and the
inventive step criteria). From a policy perspective, this approach appears more
appropriate than one which lowers the patentability standards to embrace
incremental innovations. On the other hand, it is questionable why any exclusive
rights should be awarded at all to those inventions that lack inventive character.
Option 4 provides a noteworthy alternative that takes this question into account.



 Option 4: Exclude new medical uses of known substances from patent protection


through a rigorous application of the patentability criteria but also offer legal
protection for such uses through a tailor-made sui generis regime that, for example,
requires equitable compensation in exchange for the right to use the protected
innovation (unless wholesale imitation is sought), after a brief period of market
exclusivity for the innovator. This option, as explained in the context of patentable
subject matter above, would provide incentives to local innovators to find such uses,
both with respect to the adaptation of foreign substances to local conditions and the
stimulation of investment in new uses of substances rooted in traditional knowledge.
Unlike option 3 (utility models), a system of compensatory liability would not
provide the right holder with the right to deny access by competitors to the
protected subject matter for purposes of product improvement.




217 See above, policy options on new uses in the context of patentable subject matter.




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Regarding the codification of domestic legislation on the patentability of new uses,
governments have two broad options:


1. Case-by-case approach: Avoid any reference to the issue in the Patents Act. Instead,
regulations for the examination of patent applications should provide guidance with
respect to the application of the patentability criteria to pharmaceutical product and
process claims, particularly the tests of novelty and inventive step/non-obviousness
and the level of expertise of persons skilled in the art. Patentability of new uses would
thus not be à priori precluded but would depend on the circumstances of the particular
case and the concrete application of the patentability criteria.



2. Express denial of novelty for newly used products and exclusion of new uses from


patentable subject matter: The above option presupposes a certain degree of
technical expertise on the part of patent examiners. Such expertise might not be
available in some countries. Those countries might need more direct guidance
regarding the treatment of new uses. A strict concept of novelty will normally result in
the rejection of product patents for new uses. This may be stated in express terms in a
country’s patent law or in regulations, resulting in an à priori rejection of the novelty
test for product claims of new uses of known products. As regards the protection under
a process patent, however, the situation is more complex. Whether or not a new use is
obvious is case-specific and cannot generally be anticipated in a domestic patent law,
but has to be left to a case-by-case examination. A priori exclusions of pharmaceutical
process patents for new uses are possible, however, on subject matter grounds (Article
27.3(a), TRIPS Agreement).


2.4.2.2 Variations in pharmaceutical composition or behaviour/product derivatives


Background


Another way that some pharmaceutical companies have found to “evergreen” existing patents
is to claim new patents on minor structural modifications of pre-existing compounds. This
issue has already been briefly referred to in the context of the discussion of patentable subject
matter. This Guide, however, considers the question of patentability of product derivatives to
constitute, above all, a problem of non-obviousness/inventive step.

Minor structural modifications of pre-existing compounds may consist of variations in the
formulation of active ingredients as combined with each other or with other elements.
Generally speaking, modifications of potential significance may pertain, inter alia, to drug
substances; formulations; chemical intermediates; metabolites and pro-drugs; crystals and
polymorphs; isomers; salts; and combination therapies.218

Sometimes small modifications of these kinds may actually result in significant gains in
therapeutic effects, in which case the added efficacy must be carefully evaluated under the
applicable non-obviousness standard. More often however, these variations produce “me-too”
drugs, whose therapeutic benefits vary only in insignificant degrees from other existing
formulations, and yet, under the very low eligibility standards in some countries, these small



218 See Thomas, pp. 38-44. It is not the purpose of this guide to discuss the chemical properties of medical
substances, but rather to show the implications for the scope of pharmaceutical patents.




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changes allow patentees to claim new patent protection.219 If this occurs, generic producers of
the original product, who are otherwise entitled to enter the market when the first patent
expires, may effectively be blocked or hindered by lawsuits, some of them spurious, that
allege infringement, based on patents covering modified versions of the same product. The
United States Federal Trade Commission has criticized the patent authorities for insufficient
attention to these problems and for lax granting procedures that may confound judges later
and produce anti-competitive effects. 220 As previously noted, the United States Supreme
Court acknowledged these complaints in 2007 and responded by elevating the non-
obviousness standard for combination patents.

It should be reiterated at this point that, contrary to the new use issue, the question of
patentability of pharmaceutical product derivatives does not concern different uses of the
same substance, but different forms of that substance. While the new use issue relates to
several uses of identical chemical entities, the present section discusses products that are of a
slightly different chemical structure than the originally patented product (i.e. products that are
similar to the original product but nevertheless not identical). Such modified chemical entities
may be regarded as new in the patent sense (especially in countries applying a permissive
novelty standard).

By applying strict novelty standards, members may sometimes be able to exclude product
derivatives without reaching the inventive step issue. The Indian patent law, for example,
provides that variations of known substances are considered to be the same substance (i.e. not
new), unless they differ considerably in their efficacy, based on different chemical
properties.221 Such a regulation creates a scheme in which a given variation may be rejected
for lack of novelty because it was previously claimed or disclosed. The deeper problem,
however, typically arises when the modified product is tested under the inventive step
requirement, given the bundle of prior art already associated with the original product.

The legal aspects


It is important to note at the outset that, in theory, patents may be granted separately on the
original active pharmaceutical ingredient and each of its variations as enumerated above, so
far as these variations satisfy the eligibility criteria. 222 For example, when a patent is
specifically granted on a composition of a prior art active ingredient and other elements, such
as fillers or binders, it may only encompass this composition, but not the active ingredient
standing alone.223 This means that, in principle, a patent on a variation of an active ingredient

219 See Médecins Sans Frontières, “Q&A on patents in India and the Novartis case”.
220 See FTC Report. At a 19 April 2007 Geneva seminar held by the France–Switzerland Chamber of Commerce,
Mr. Roland Grossenbacher, Director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Intellectual Property inter alia stressed the
importance of the inventive step requirement to ensure quality patents, warning that too much or too little
protection could harm innovation. See IP Watch, “Top IP Official Cites Swiss Patent Litigation System, Global
Over-Patenting”, online publication, 23 April 2007 (http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2007/04/23/top-swiss-ip-
official-cites-national-patent-litigation-system-global-over-patenting/.
221 See Section 3 (d) of the 2005 Amendment to the Indian Patents Act. From a technical point of view, this
provision does not clearly distinguish between the different issues of patentable subject matter on the one hand
and novelty on the other hand. While the overall heading of the Article refers to the subsequent subparagraphs as
“not inventions within the meaning of this Act” (thus denying patentability on subject matter grounds), the
explanation to subparagraph (d) states that certain derivatives of known products “shall be considered to be the
same substance …“ (thus denying patentability due to a lack of novelty).
222 UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO, Pharmaceutical Patents, p. 6.
223 Ibid. The extent to which countries admit the patentability of known substances in new compositions varies,
ibid. The above-mentioned scenario of a known active ingredient claimed in a new composition has to be
distinguished from the case where the active ingredient as such is new. In that case, the patent is not solely




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does not necessarily extend to the original active ingredient as such. In the above example, the
grant of a 20-year term of protection on the composition of a prior art active ingredient and a
binder would not prevent third parties from using the active ingredient alone, or in a different
composition, provided that the active ingredient was no longer protected by a separate
patent.224 Theoretically speaking, the patenting of derivatives should therefore by no means
extend the life of the existing patent on the original substance, as opposed to the new use issue,
where another patent is claimed on the original substance (one example of “ever-greening”).

In practice, however, the patenting of derivatives may have the same “ever-greening” effect as
in the case of new uses, i.e. prevent generic competitors from manufacturing the substance
protected by the original patent. In the context of derivatives, judges, lawyers and other
pharmaceutical lay persons may encounter serious difficulties in trying to distinguish between
the particular chemical entities covered by a prior patent and those covered by the patent on a
derivative product. In infringement actions pertaining to pharmaceutical patents, the judge
will have to decide on the exact scope of the patent claims in each case, which may be an
extremely challenging task considering the need to distinguish, for example, between the
active ingredient and one of its salts or ethers.

These complexities may encourage patent holders to involve potential generic competitors in
“strategic” infringement litigation by alleging the latter’s use of the protected substance and
requesting provisional injunctions blocking commercialization of the generic product until a
final judgment is rendered. These actions may delay the generic producer’s entry into the
market or result in negotiated settlements, or even a payment to the potential competitor for
leaving the market, which should attract the attention of anti-trust authorities. In this context,
an interesting example for patent ever-greening is provided in the 2006 Commission on
Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH) Report, as briefly outlined
in box 3, below.

Box 3: How invalid patent claims are used to prevent generic competition

A pharmaceutical company, after its original patent on the substance paroxetine had expired,
filed a patent application for paroxetine hydrochloride hemihydrate, a modified form of the
originally patented substance paroxetine. After several years of litigation between the
originator company and a generic competitor, the new claim to paroxetine hydrochloride
hemihydrate was held invalid by the competent appeal court. By alleging that the generic
competitor’s product (paroxetine hydrochloride anhydrate) fell within the scope of its
(invalid) claim to paroxetine hydrochloride hemihydrate, the originator company succeeded
in delaying considerably the market entry of the generic drug (which took place only five-
and-a-half years after the generic producer’s application for marketing approval). During the
court proceedings, the originator company pursued four additional infringement suits, alleging
the generic product fell within the scope of several different forms and new uses of paroxetine
hydrochloride. The infringement proceedings resulted in five overlapping 30-month stays,



granted on the composition, but may cover the active ingredient as such, plus possibly the composition
(depending on the drafting of the patent claims).
224 Ibid. In case the active ingredient is new and patented in addition to the composition, third parties would not
be in a position to legally use the active ingredient without authorization from the patent holder, or through a
compulsory license. These considerations do not apply to the treatment of new uses of known products (see
above): as opposed to the case of derivatives, new uses concern the identical substance. A product patent on a
new use may therefore directly extend the life of the existing patent, unless the claims for the original and the
new patent refer to specific and separate uses (“use-bound claims”, see below, Section 2.5).




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which prevented the United States Food and Drug Authority (FDA) from authorizing the
marketing of the generic product for over 65 months. During one year of artificially extended
market exclusivity (based on an invalid patent), the originator company gained more than $1
billion in net sales of the respective pharmaceutical product.
Source: Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH) Report, box 4.7
(“Evergreening in the United States”, p. 133).

The granting of patents on variations of known substances increases the number of patents of
which the scope is unclear and thereby increases the risk of frivolous or harassing patent
infringement actions. Governments may seek to reduce the risk of such lawsuits by limiting
patents on product variations unless there are clear and demonstrable grounds to show that the
modified substance produces truly new and significant therapeutic impacts.

The question arises whether a structurally similar compound merits patent protection if it does
show properties that are unexpected or superior to those of the prior art (for example, if the
variant shows anti-inflammatory properties while the prior art compound was inactive).225 In
other words, should the new product be considered non-obvious, despite its structural
similarity to prior art, due to its particular properties?

United States and Indian approaches


Under United States patent law, the patent applicant may seek to invoke new or unexpected
superior properties to rebut a prima facie case of obviousness resulting from structural
similarities between pharmaceutical products. 226 Regarding the unexpected character of
similar chemical structures, the May 2007 United States Supreme Court decision on this
matter (KSR) suggests that combining the relevant elements may be a logical, common sense
step that the person skilled in the art would have taken in due course, based on his/her
technical know-how and despite the lack of any published single prior art reference directly
on-point. While it is unclear, at the time of writing, whether this stricter standard will actually
be followed by the lower courts in the United States,227 authorities in developing countries
may consider the KSR decision an important authority for the tightening of the inventive step
requirement under domestic patent law.

In contrast to United States patent law, the new Indian patent law deals with derivatives (and
new uses) by adopting a specific clause in Section 3(d) of the 2005 Patents Act, which
purports to exclude derivatives from patentability on the following grounds:


“The following are not inventions within the meaning of this Act:
“The mere discovery of a new form of a known substance which does not result in the
enhancement of the known efficacy of that substance or the mere discovery of any
new property or new use for a known substance or of the mere use of a known process,
machine or apparatus unless such known process results in a new product or employs
at least one new reactant.



225 Example taken from Thomas, p. 179.
226 See Thomas, pp. 177-181. According to Federal Circuit case law (In re Dillon, 1990), structural similarity
between the claimed and prior art compound establishes a prima facie case of obviousness if in addition, there is
a suggestion or motivation for the inventor to make the new compound with a reasonable expectation of success,
and if the method of making the claimed compound was known to, or rendered obvious by, the state of the art
(Thomas, p. 181).
227 See above, Section 2.4.1.2.




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“Explanation: For the purposes of this clause, salts, esters, ethers, polymorphs,
metabolites, pure form, particle size, isomers, mixtures of isomers, complexes,
combinations and other derivatives of known substance shall be considered to be the
same substance, unless they differ significantly in properties with regard to
efficacy.”228



This provision allows the Indian authorities to challenge any given derivative on a number of
alternative grounds. For example, the derivative compound may be faulted for lack of novelty,
because it is based on salts that were previously claimed and disclosed. Alternatively, it may
be rejected on subject matter grounds (as constituting a mere discovery, as opposed to an
invention) if the derivative fails to add the requisite degree of efficacy. Section 3(d) of the
Indian Patents Act has been challenged for alleged inconsistencies with the TRIPS Agreement.
Box 4 reviews and dismisses these challenges.229

Box 4: Alleged TRIPS-inconsistency of Section 3 (d) of the Indian Patents Act

Additional grounds for the exclusion of patentability
The Indian Patents Act’s use of a specific clause to address multiple grounds for excluding
derivatives has been challenged for failing to comply with the TRIPS Agreement because it
allegedly adds criteria for exclusions that are not recognized in Articles 27 and 30 of the
TRIPS Agreement.230 However, this argument appears spurious on closer examination. On its
face, the statute simply restates the principles of invention, novelty and inventive step by
expressly excluding that which is not an invention, novel or unobvious, for lack of efficacy.
These negative exclusions are a necessary and inherent component of the positive eligibility
requirements themselves and they constitute no new or enlarged set of exclusions to those
already allowed. The fact that the language used in Section 3(d) of the Patents Act speaks of
“exclusions”, which indirectly evokes Article 30 of the TRIPS Agreement, is inconsequential
for the reason that all compounds that are not inventions, or not novel, are automatically
“excluded” from patentability by definition. The efficacy criterion is used as an element of
the invention or novelty test. Under TRIPS, members are free to define these terms according
to their policy preferences. As to pharmaceutical substances, it is inherent in their nature as
medicinal cures that their novelty and/or inventive character are measured in terms of their
enhanced efficacy. The efficacy criterion thus helps define what the terms invention, novelty
and inventive step mean in the pharmaceutical context, and does not constitute an additional
patentability requirement.

Non-discrimination requirement
Another critique regarding Section 3(d) of the Indian Patents Act has focused on the
requirement under Article 27, TRIPS Agreement, to make patents available for any
invention, whether product or process, in all fields of technology. As outlined above, India
has broadly excluded from patentability many sub-categories of modified pharmaceutical
products on the grounds that they lack enhanced efficacy. It has been argued that the
enhanced efficacy requirement, as applied to pharmaceutical products under Indian law,

228 See Section 3 (d) of the Patents Act, 1970 (2005).
229 It has also been noted, in the literature on the topic, that the drafting of Section 3(d) could be improved. For
details, see S. Basheer/T. P. Reddy, “The ‘Efficacy’ of Indian Patent Law: Ironing out the Creases in Section
3(d)” [hereinafter Basheer/Reddy] (available at www.law.ed.ac.uk/ahrc/script-ed/vol5-2/basheer.pdf).
230 See “Report of the Technical Expert Group on Patent Law Issues” (“Mashelkar Report”), December 2006
(this report was later withdrawn for separate reasons). The same view is still upheld by other stakeholders and
was part of Novartis’ challenge of Section 3(d) before the Madras High Court, see discussion above. For a
different view on the statute’s TRIPS-compliance, see Abbott, The Definition of Pharmaceutical Substance.




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makes it more difficult to obtain a patent in the pharmaceutical area than in other fields of
technology.231 Such view, however, does not take appropriate account of the fact that due to
important differences between areas of technology, differential treatment of these areas may
be justifiable on public interest bona fide grounds, such as the promotion of generic
pharmaceutical competition. In addition, it is even questionable whether the Indian law
actually treats pharmaceuticals differently from other fields of technology. Section 3 (d) of
the Indian Patents Act emphasizes the need for enhanced efficacy. As explained above, this
does not constitute an additional requirement of patentability, but an element of the
invention, novelty or inventive step test in the particular field of pharmaceuticals. Other
fields of technology serve other purposes and will therefore rely on different criteria to
determine the meaning of novelty and inventive step. Using such criteria arguably does not
represent discrimination between different fields of technology, but is instead a necessary
tool to ensure that patent grants take account of the particularities of a given technological
area and are limited to those products that bring a genuine benefit to society.


Despite some methodological differences in approach, both the Indian and the United States
legislation (and case law) treat structural similarities occurring in product derivatives as
undeserving of product patent protection, unless the structural modifications result in new,
improved or unexpected properties (United States law) or in significantly enhanced efficacy
(Indian law).232

Policy options under patent law


The above approaches within Indian and United States law provide useful examples for
developing countries to determine how to address the patentability of derivatives. Whether to
emphasize the definition of “invention”, or the novelty requirement, as under Indian law, or
the inventive step test, as under United States law, is up to a member’s discretion. Any of
these requirements may be used to filter out insignificant and trivial derivatives of known

231 See, e.g., R. Bate in IP Health Digest, Vol 1, No. 2318, message no. 3.
232 As discussed above, it is for the time being not clear how United States case law will evolve in the area of
incremental pharmaceutical inventions. In the area of small molecules, the CAFC appears to insist on the
requirement of precise prior art leads for a finding of prima facie obviousness (teaching, suggestion or
motivation (TSM) to combine test), in addition to structural similarities. The KSR decision, on the other hand,
waives this requirement and could be interpreted as softening the TSM test. Section 3(d) of the Indian Patents
Act, by contrast, does not imply any requirement of precise prior art leads; structural similarity alone will suffice
to trigger a prima facie denial of the eligibility of a given substance as an “invention” (i.e. patentable subject
matter). However, the issue of prior art leads and their required degree of precision is likely to come up under the
inventive step examination, after an applicant has cleared the Section 3(d) hurdle. A potentially more important
difference between the United States and the Indian approaches could arise on the issue of how to rebut the
prima facie cases of obviousness (United States law) or lack of invention (Indian law). Under United States case
law, prima facie obviousness may be rebutted by the patent applicant/holder through a showing of “unexpected
or surprising results” (Thomas, p. 180, citing the CAFC decision In re Dillon of 1990). This may encompass
structurally similar substances that, even though behaving in an unexpected way, are not more efficacious than
the previously known substance. Indian case law has recently relied on a narrow definition of the efficacy
criterion, defining the latter as “therapeutic” efficacy (see the Madras High Court decision of 8 June 2007 in
Novartis AG v. Union of India et al; see the decision of the IP Appellate Board on the same case, at pages
154/155; see also the decision of the Indian Patent Office of 19 June 2008 in Boehringer Ingelheim
Pharmaceuticals v. Indian Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS & Positive Women’s Network. The same
reference to “therapeutic use” may be found in the 2008 draft Manual of Patent Practice and Procedure (Chapter
IV, para. 4.5.6), which, however, is not intended to have any legally binding force on patent examiners
(available at http://ipindia.nic.in/ipr/patent/DraftPatent_Manual_2008.pdf), pg. 3. Under this narrow definition,
incremental innovations such as new drug delivery forms and increased heat stability properties would not
qualify as patentable inventions (see Basheer/Reddy, p. 260).




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products on a case-by-case approach. For example, domestic regulations could provide that
structural similarities create a presumption of lack of novelty or inventive step (for the latter
taking into account the typical level of creativity and insight of the person with ordinary skills
in the art). The burden of proof would then lie on the patent applicant to demonstrate the
significantly superior properties or efficacy of the variant, or show that the prior art substance
taught away from the created variant in some important respect (bearing in mind the premise
in KSR that in order to arrive at a finding of obviousness, there is no need for a specific and
precise prior art lead).

However, it should be acknowledged that developing country patent examiners may have
difficulty assessing the requirement of superior efficacy. The authorities may wish to invoke
high level expert opinion, or even establish a board of distinguished external advisers.
Reliance on Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) examiners has been questioned due to the
considerable increase in their work load233 and should therefore not be considered a substitute
for due diligence by national authorities. Moreover, care must be taken to maintain strict
standards consistently over time, lest inconsistent decisions lead to premature lowering of
standards.

In sum, pharmaceutical derivatives may be approached either under the novelty requirement
or under the inventive step test. Developing countries with existing expertise in patent
examination could use the above analysis as policy guidance when examining an application
on a case-by-case basis. Countries using a pure registration system might need more clearly-
defined legislation to approach the patentability of pharmaceutical derivatives.

As regards the codification of domestic legislation on the patentability of derivatives,
governments have the following broad options:


1. Avoid any reference to the issue in the Patents Act. In this case, national patent
examination guidelines should address pharmaceutical product variations in detail.234


2. Provide broad standards on the issue in the Patents Act, leaving the details up to
the patent examination guidelines.


3. Codify detailed rules directly in the Patents Act. The inconvenience with this
approach is that technical details sometimes need to be modified to reflect changes in
the technological environment or government policy. In particular, developing
countries that lack experience in the patenting of pharmaceutical products might wish
to keep some flexibility in order to rapidly readjust their patent policy if early
experience shows that the existing scheme is not working properly. For that purpose, it
might prove more practical to regulate the details on pharmaceutical variants in
administrative guidelines that the government is able to change without going through
a Parliamentary approval procedure, a process that could possibly generate external
lobbying pressures.



Policy options outside of the patent system
Members that choose to follow the above recommendations on policy options under patent
law may nevertheless wish to promote the development of useful product derivatives through
alternative forms of protection. Members are free to provide protection under a system of



233 Personal communication from Mr. Malcolm Spence, Technical Advisor – Intellectual Property/SPS,
Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery, Bridgetown, Barbados.
234 For an overview of the most important patent examiners’ guidelines in the public health context as used by
the major developed country patent offices, see UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO, Pharmaceutical Patents. See same for
a discussion on how developing countries could design their own patent examination guidelines.




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utility models or compensatory liability. Structural similarity between the original, patented
product and the derivative does not necessarily prevent the latter from being eligible for utility
model protection, if domestic utility model law considers the derivative as new and
industrially applicable and waives the inventive step requirement (thus ignoring structural
similarity). However, the implication would be that any commercially-oriented follow-on
improvements could be blocked by the holder of the utility model. This concern could be
addressed through a regime of non-exclusive compensatory liability, which appears to be the
more appropriate option and has been described in some detail under Section 2.3.2.1, above.


2.4.2.3 Selection patents


Background
The life of a patent covering a pharmaceutical substance may also be extended by means of
claiming “selection patents”. The latter have been defined as follows:


“A “selection patent” is a patent under which a single element or a small segment
within a large known group is “selected” and independently claimed based on a
particular feature not mentioned in the large [and previously patented] group.”235



As opposed to the new use issue, selected segments (or “species”) are often claimed for the
same medical purpose as the prior art large group (or “genus”), but for improved properties.
Unlike in the case of product derivatives, the selected segment does not differ from the prior
art, but is part of it.

In the area of pharmaceuticals an example for claiming selection patents is the frequent
practice of seeking a patent on an enantiomer236 in cases where the racemate237 is already part
of the prior art. The question arises as to whether previous disclosure of the genus (i.e. the
prior art racemate) anticipates later claims to a particular enantiomer (novelty issue) or
renders them obvious (inventive step issue). In some cases, an enantiomer may have useful
and unpredictable properties which differ from those of the (larger) racemate, and which,
prior to the isolation from the racemate, were masked by the other enantiomer.238

WTO members are free under the TRIPS Agreement to decide to what extent selection
inventions should be patentable, as long as the patentability criteria of novelty, inventive step
and industrial application are respected. Applied strictly, the novelty requirement could be
used to exclude the patentability of selection inventions, based on the understanding that the
newly claimed selection was part of the earlier disclosed genus (i.e. prior art).239 For example,
an enatiomer not expressly mentioned in the earlier disclosure of a racemate could be
regarded as nevertheless being part of the prior art. However, many countries seem to
consider selection patents as an issue of inventive step, rather than novelty. For example, the
EPO patentability guidelines state that “a generic disclosure does not usually take away the



235 UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO, Pharmaceutical Patents, p. 14.
236 “Enantiomers (or optical isomers) behave in relation to one another as an image does to its mirror image. In
organic chemistry, enantiomers spontaneously occur, for example, in compounds that comprise a carbon atom
with four different substituents.” (UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO, Pharmaceutical Patents, p. 16; footnotes omitted).
237 A racemate comprises “an equal mixture of dextro and levo enantiomers”, see Thomas, p. 91.
238 UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO, Pharmaceutical Patents, footnote 81.
239 See South Centre Guide, p. 73.




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novelty of any specific example falling within the terms of that disclosure”.240 The EPO
guidelines treat those selected compounds that are not specifically disclosed in a prior art
document as new in the patent sense and therefore subject them to the inventive step
examination.241 In the United States, the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (CCPA) held
that a disclosure of a racemate does not anticipate a later claim to a separated enantiomer.242

For the inventive step requirement the treatment of selection claims varies among WTO
members. The essential and common denominator seems to be the question of whether the
claimed improved properties of the new element selected from the prior art group could have
been expected by an average person skilled in the art.243 Some countries have developed
rather strict case law in this regard. For instance, in Germany, the BGH has held that a prior
art disclosure of a large generic group of compounds is, to the skilled chemist, fully
equivalent to the disclosure of each specific element within this group. 244 The opposite
approach has been followed in the United States, where the Court of Appeals for the Federal
Circuit (CAFC) has decided that broad prior art references do not disclose the claimed species
in a selection invention, especially where the disclosed genus leads away from the claimed
compound.245

Another criterion for assessing inventive step may be whether the claimed selection has a
special character or quality that it does not share with the other prior art components of the
previously known larger group. The higher the number of non-selected components that share
the claimed properties, the higher the likelihood that the claimed selection will be considered
obvious.246

In the specifically relevant area of enantiomers, it should be mentioned that the testing of
improved pharmaceutical efficacy of an isolated enantiomer as compared to the racemic
mixture of both enantiomers is part of the routine of chemists and pharmacists.247 For a pair of
enantiomers, it is typical that one has a higher activity than the other, which means that for at
least one of the isolated enantiomers, a higher activity may be expected than for the
racemate.248 For this reason, the Indian draft guidelines for patent examination considers
enantiomers as prima facie obvious from the prior art racemate.249



240 Ibid, p. 75, citing EPO Examination Guidelines chapter IV 7.4.
241 See UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO, Pharmaceutical Patents, p. 15, quoting EPO Examination Guidelines Part C,
Chapter IV 3.1.
242 Thomas, p. 91. The CCPA’s successor, the CAFC, has not yet pronounced itself on the novelty of
enantiomers as compared to prior art racemates (ibid.). In any case, Thomas points out that prior art disclosure of
a racemate may nevertheless result in a finding of obviousness of enantiomers under United States patent law
(ibid).
243 See for example, EPO Examination Guidelines Part C, Chapter IV 3.1, as quoted in UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO,
Pharmaceutical Patents, p. 15 (Box 8).
244 See UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO, Pharmaceutical Patents, p. 14 (referring to a publication by Grubb). Thus, the
BGH appears to consider that the selection of the claimed specific compound is obvious to a skilled chemist, as
taught by the prior art larger group of compounds. At the same time, the BGH could also be understood as
denying the novelty of the claimed selection, which is already part of the prior art generic group of compounds.
245 See South Centre Guide, p. 79, with references to the Jones and Baird cases.
246 See Paragraph 24 of the United Kingdom Patent Office Examination Guidelines for Patent Applications
relating to Biotechnological Inventions, Section 3 of the Manual of Patent Practice, as quoted in UNCTAD-
ICTSD-WHO, Pharmaceutical Patents, p. 15 (Box 9).
247 UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO, Pharmaceutical Patents, p. 17.
248 Ibid.
249 Draft Manual of Patent Practice and Procedure, Patent Office of India, 2005, Annexure 1, paragraph 5.1.4:
“ […] Once a racemic compound is known, its enantiomers are obvious because a person skilled in the art knows




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Policy options

The patenting of selection inventions may extend the life of a patent on a substance that is
covered by both an earlier patent on a group of compounds (e.g. as admitted through
Markush-type of claims, see below, Section 2.5) and a subsequent patent on a specific
element of that group. For instance, in the United States, Federal Circuit case law has stated
that the grant of a patent on a species does not limit the scope of an earlier patent that claims
the genus. 250 In the event that both patents belong to the same holder, the later patent
effectively extends the exclusive rights in the species. In case the patents belong to different
parties, “each patent owner can exclude the other from practicing the species. The result is
that without some sort of agreement between them, neither would be legally free to
manufacture and sell the species.” 251 Depending on the scope of the domestic research
exception, such cumulative patents could also pose serious obstacles to the development of
follow-on innovation on the protected species, obliging interested researchers and competitors
to navigate through a dense web of patents (“patent thicket”) by paying royalties or
challenging the patents through triggering infringement litigation.

WTO members that wish to avoid such anti-competitive effects are free to limit the patenting
of selection inventions, through a tight application of the patentability criteria. The following
options may be considered:


 Option 1: Apply a strict standard of novelty. The disclosure of the prior art
broad group of compounds may be considered as anticipating all of the specific
elements that are included in the group, thus destroying their novelty in later,
separate patent applications. This may be based on the concept of implicit
teaching (see above, Section 2.4.1.1). In addition, it is common sense that the
disclosure of a group of compounds comprises all of the group’s elements,
even if not specifically mentioned.



 Option 2: Apply a strict standard of inventive step. Countries may confirm


the novelty of those specific elements that were not expressly mentioned in the
prior art group of compounds. Instead of the novelty standard, it would be the
inventive step requirement that would act as the principal floodgate against
selection patents. The essential issue to examine would be the question of
whether the improved properties of the species (as compared to the prior art
genus) are beyond what a skilled chemist may expect. In this context, countries
may follow the German approach to selection inventions in general
(considering them obvious, in light of the disclosed prior art genus) or the
Indian approach to enantiomers in particular (regarding them as prima facie
obvious from the racemate, in light of the typical behavior of enantiomers, as
explained above). It should also be noted that denying a patent on the species
(i.e. a product patent) on grounds of novelty or inventive step does not exclude
the granting of a patent on the method used for isolating the species from the
genus (i.e. a process patent), provided such method meets the patentability
requirements.



that a compound having a chiral center exists in two optically active forms. Hence product patent may not be
granted for the enantiomers. […]”
250 Thomas, p. 91, citing CAFC case law (footnote 39).
251 Ibid., p. 92.




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 Option 3: Countries that wish to promote follow-on, incremental innovation


may choose to protect selection inventions (i.e. the product) through utility
model law, provided that domestic law does not rule out the possibility of
applying for such protection of the specie despite the existence of a parallel
patent on the genus, and allows for more permissive novelty and inventive step
standards (or even waives the latter). This would provide some incentive for
the selection of useful species from a known genus without the need to expand
patent protection to known or non-inventive substances. On the other hand, the
holder of a utility model could still block access by competitors to the specie,
which could have a negative impact on product improvement and competition.



 Option 4: As an alternative to option 3, countries wishing to promote follow-


on, incremental innovation may choose to protect selection inventions (i.e. the
product) through non-exclusive regimes of compensatory liability (see above,
Section 2.3.2.1). Thus, the party that selected the specie from the genus would
be entitled to compensation from any party using the specie for follow-on
improvements but would not be in a position to block access to the specie for
such purposes.


2.5 Patent claims construction


2.5.1 Background


An invention that covers patentable subject matter and meets the three patentability
requirements, discussed above, must in principle be granted patent protection. However, there
is a need to delineate the boundaries of the invention so that third parties such as generic
producers can be aware of the technological territory that cannot be invaded without risking a
suit for patent infringement.252 To do this is the purpose of the patent claims that each patent
application has to contain.253 There are several ways of construing a claim to determine the
literal scope of the inventor’s exclusive rights (claims construction). Whether the scope
extends beyond the literal meaning of a claim is an issue of claims interpretation, which will
be discussed in the next section.

The TRIPS Agreement does not provide any guidance on the issue of claims construction to
determine the literal scope of a patent. It only refers to the two basic categories of patent
claims, i.e. product and process claims (Articles 27.1; 28.1, TRIPS Agreement). However, a
product may be described in many different ways, for instance through its chemical structure,
or rather by referring to its functions, or by describing the process through which it has been
obtained, or by a combination of these elements. A process may also be defined by various



252 UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 449.
253 Other mandatory elements of a patent application are: 1. the request; 2. the description or “specification” (to
disclose the invention in a manner sufficiently clear to be carried out by a person skilled in the art); 3. one or
more drawings, where necessary to illustrate the description; 4. an abstract (to serve as a technical information).
Under some developed countries’ patent legislation, description and drawings must be used for the claims
interpretation; see, e.g., § 14, second sentence of the German Patents Act.




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means, e.g. by a description of various steps that make up the entire process, or by referring to
its functions, or again through a combination of these elements.

The way in which a product or process claim is construed may have significant impact on its
literal scope and thus the possibility of generic competitors to access pharmaceutical
substances. In the absence of any TRIPS rules on this issue, OECD country practice in claims
construction may provide important insights to developing country policymakers and generic
producers who consult a published patent document in order to ensure that their own activities
do not involve patent-protected substances. Finally, a basic understanding of claims
construction is also important for those developing country-based domestic pharmaceutical
producers who have acquired an advanced level of know-how and seek patent protection for
their own inventions, either in their own country or abroad.

A patent claim usually consists of three parts, i.e. a preamble, a transition phrase, and a
body.254 Regarding claims construction, it is the claims body that deserves most attention.


2.5.1.1 The claims preamble


The preamble describes the general character of the invention. It may be framed in general
terms, referring to, e.g., “a pharmaceutical composition”. It may also be more specific,
referring to, e.g., “an antibacterial pharmaceutical composition” or “a naproxen formulation
for once-daily oral administration”.255 As a general rule, the preamble is not considered to
limit the scope of a claim. However, an exception is made to the extent that the preamble is
necessary to define the claimed invention. For example, a preamble referring to a “sustained
release tablet” has been considered by the United States Federal Circuit as providing a
meaningful limitation to the respective claim, as “sustained release of the pharmaceutical
substance into the human body is an essential feature of the invention”, defining the way in
which another pharmaceutical substance mentioned later in the claim (buproprion
hydrochloride) is absorbed by the human body.256 In this specific case, the applicant replaced
the original reference to “sustained release” by a more specific reference to a particular agent
(hydroxypropyl methylcellulose/HPMC) used to generate sustained release of buproprion
hydrochloride. In a subsequent infringement suit, the Federal Circuit found that the claim had
been narrowed in scope to the use of HPMC as release agent. Generic competitors were free
to use buproprion hydrochloride in combination with release agents other than HPMC.


2.5.1.2 The transition phrase


The transition phrase combines the preamble and the claims body. Patent applicants may
usually choose from three different phrases, using the terms:


 “Comprising”; or
 “Consisting of”; or
 “Consisting essentially of”.257




254 See Thomas, p. 219.
255 Examples from Thomas, p. 219.
256 Ibid, referring to Judge Rader.
257 Ibid, p. 221.




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For example, a claim may read:


“A pharmaceutical composition, comprising …”

The choice of the transition phrase may have a significant impact on the literal scope of the
patent. A claim “comprising” elements A and B is open in its literal meaning to an additional
element C, as long as C does not modify the overall character of the invention. Third parties
producing a generic substitute comprising elements A, B, and C are therefore likely to be held
liable for infringement of the literal scope of the patent. This can only be avoided where
element C modifies the overall character of the invention, which basically requires the
development of a new product or process (i.e. within the “novelty” meaning of patent law).

By contrast, a claim reading:


“A pharmaceutical composition, consisting of elements A and B”


is limited in its literal scope to the expressly named elements. Third parties producing generic
substitutes using elements A, B, and C are therefore outside the literal scope of the patent. If
this principle were applied strictly, third parties using the patented substance and adding a
trivial element would be allowed to avoid claims of literal infringement. For example, a
generic producer who copies previously claimed chemical substances A and B and markets
them in a kit adding a spatula (element C) not contained in the original product would not be
considered to be inside the literal scope of the patent claim.258

In order to improve the patentee’s ability to sue third parties for literal patent infringement,
the United States Federal Circuit has established that, where the added element (i.e. the
spatula in the above example) has a different character from the elements expressly mentioned
in the claim (i.e. pharmaceutical substances A and B), does not interact with them and does
not contribute to the overall goal of the invention, the added element will not save the third
party from infringing upon the literal scope of the patent.259 A similar outcome would result if
the product comprising the trivial element (i.e. the spatula, in the above example) were
considered equivalent to the product containing the expressly mentioned elements (i.e. A and
B). Such interpretation goes beyond the literal scope of the claim and is considered further in
the next section on patent claims interpretation.

Patent applicants will normally be hesitant to employ a “consisting of” transition phrase, due
to the narrow character of the claim, and the relative ease with which others may avoid legal
claims of infringement. For this reason, many claims employ a transition phrase referring to
“consisting essentially of”, which makes clear that by adding trivial elements to expressly
claimed elements, third parties would still infringe the literal scope of the patent. The
“consisting essentially of” version is thus comparable in effects to the “comprising” version of
a transition phrase.


2.5.1.3 The body



258 Example from Thomas, p. 223.
259 Federal Circuit 2004, Norian Corp. v. Stryker Corp., cited by Thomas, p. 222.




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The claims body is the main text of the patent claim, containing the core description of the
invention. Variations in the construction of the body may have significant effects on the literal
scope of a patent claim.

Developed countries have traditionally applied a number of different ways of how to describe
the invention in the claims body. In brief, most claim formats relate to:


 The function of the invention (i.e. what it does); or
 The structure of the invention (i.e. what it is); or
 The process of making the invention (i.e. how it is made).



The claim formats of most relevance to pharmaceutical inventions are the following:


 Structural claims: A structural claim describes the chemical composition of a product.
Protection is provided to the described chemical structure, encompassing all methods
of producing that structure. Unless there is a requirement for the patent applicant to
specify, along with the structure, the particular purpose the invention should serve, the
scope of protection could arguably cover uses of the described structure for any
purpose. This is the approach followed in a number of developed countries and the
EPO in particular has extended this broad scope to cover even those uses unknown to
the inventor at the time of filing the application.260



 Markush claims: A Markush claim is a sub-form of a structural claim. Markush claims


refer to a family of compounds by defining the structure that is commonly shared by
all members of the family.261 These claims allow patent applicants to claim “hundreds
of closely related compounds”,262 without the need to actually define the structure of
each compound, nor to test all of their properties.263 The fact that a Markush claim
refers to a chemical structure common to a great number of chemical variants may not
be relied upon to demonstrate the obviousness of the claimed variants.



 Jepson claims: A Jepson claim defines an invention (product or process) through the


reference to obvious (and thus non-patentable) elements. The preamble admits the
existence of prior art, on which the actual invention in the claims body is based in the
form of an improvement of the prior art. For patent examiners this represents an easy
way of identifying those elements of the claim that are new and inventive. For this
reason, the EPO strongly encourages the use of this claim format.264





260 See above, Box 1, and case T128/82, OJ EPO 1984, p. 164, as cited by South Centre Guide, p. 140; see also R.
J. Young, “The construction of product-by-process claims”, in The construction of product-by-process claims,
11th European Patent Judges’ Symposium, Copenhagen, Official Journal of the EPO 2003, Special Edition, No.
2 hereinafter Young
(available at http://www.european-patent-office.org/epo/pubs/oj003/07_03/se2_07_03.pdf), pp. 20-75, p. 20;
Scuffi, p. 60; both with references to EPO decision (Enlarged Board of Appeal) G 2/88, OJ EPO 1990, 93 (No. 2
of the Reasons, second sentence of third paragraph). Concerning new uses of known products, the new EPC
makes available for first medical uses product claims that cover all possible medical uses, while still leaving the
possibility to claim another product patent on subsequently discovered uses, see above, Box 2. Under the TRIPS
Agreement, Members are not obligated to adopt such extensive protection of a product with respect to its uses.
261 For details, see Thomas, p. 227; and UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO, Pharmaceutical Patents, p. 12.
262 Thomas, p. 227. According to UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO, Pharmaceutical Patents, p. 12, the number of
claimed compounds may be sometimes millions.
263 UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO, Pharmaceutical Patents, p. 12.
264 Thomas, p. 231.




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 Functional claims (also known as “means-plus-function” claims): Functional claims
do not relate to the structure of the invention, but to its functions. They are generally
admitted in the United States.265 The EPO, by contrast, does not accept such claims
unless a more precise delineation of the invention is impossible.266 Under United
States law, functional claims may not refer to a function alone, but must describe the
function in combination with the corresponding structure, material, or acts described
in the patent specification (35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6). The reason for this
requirement was the concern expressed by the United States Supreme Court that the
sole reference in the claims to function would result in overly broad claims, as there
are a multitude of different devices that may be used to carry out the claimed function,
including those unknown at the time of patent application. All of these potential ways
to carry out the claimed function would be covered by the patent, which would have a
chilling effect on competitors’ efforts to invent such new devices.267



 Product-by-process claims: Product-by-process claims define a product by the process


used to obtain it.268 The scope of these claims is controversial. On the one hand, it is
argued that use of such a claim format results in a product claim, encompassing all
ways of making the product.269 The opposite view considers that such claims are
restricted in their scope to the particular manufacturing method as recited in the claim
and the end product as a result of this particular method, even where the end-product
is known (but provided that the method of production is new, inventive and
industrially applicable).270 Two different panels of the United States Federal Circuit
have, in two decisions, expressed both views.271 The EPO considers the scope to cover
the end product, provided the product itself meets the patentability criteria.272 This
distinguishes product-by-process claims as admitted by the EPO from the process
claims TRIPS standard under Article 28.1 (b). Under the latter, products as directly
obtained through a patented process are also protected, irrespective of their novelty.273
The EPO admits product-by-process claims only if it is impossible to define the
product by reference to its composition, structure or other testable parameter.274



 Skuballa claims: Skuballa claims are process claims that refer to numerous potential


uses of medical compounds. Rather than claiming the specific dosage for each medical
indication individually, Skuballa claims are limited to reciting each of the potential
uses, based on the assumption that establishing specific dosages for each use could
easily be done by a person skilled in the art.275



265 Thomas, p. 231, referring to 35 U.S.C. § 112, para. 6.
266 South Centre, 2000, p. 33.
267 Thomas, p. 232, referring to the Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Co. v. Walker Decision, quoting the
Supreme Court: “Unless frightened from the course of experimentation by broad functional claims like these,
inventive genius may evolve many more devices to accomplish the same purpose.”
268 Scuffi, p. 68.
269 This is the situation under German patent law, see Young, p. 26.
270 Ibid., referring to the situation under United Kingdom patent law.
271 Thomas, p. 229.
272 See Young, p. 32, who observes that the special features of a process used for defining the product may form
the basis for the recognition of novelty and inventive step of the product itself. See also Scuffi, p. 70.
273 See Young, on p. 28, paragraph 4.3, referring to process claims as linking “patent protection for a (possibly
known) product to a patentable process, without requiring any particular additional category of claim (or indeed,
any claim at all to the product itself) to obtain the protection conferred.” (emphasis added).
274 EPO decision T 150/82, OJ EPO 1984, 309.
275 Thomas, p. 235, referring to the United States Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences.




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2.5.2 Policy options


The TRIPS Agreement leaves members entirely free regarding their domestic rules on patent
claims formulation. Rules regarding formulation may be included directly into the Patents Act
or into subsequent administrative implementation guidelines. The advantage of the latter is
that is allows the government to quickly adapt its policy on claims formulation to changing
needs and experiences. It is not the objective of this Guide to provide for detailed rules on
claims construction. The objective of this section is to provide developing countries with
some guidance in respect of possible approaches to claims construction, taking examples from
OECD country legislation and practice.

In this respect, it should be remembered that domestic rules on the formulation of patent
claims will generally have to be applied to all fields of technology, not only pharmaceuticals.
The TRIPS Agreement provides that patents shall be available and patent rights enjoyable
without discrimination as to the field of technology.276 This being said, a WTO panel has
clarified that “discrimination” in this sense “extends beyond the concept of differential
treatment”.277 This has been interpreted as suggesting that governments are permitted to adopt
different rules for particular product areas, as long as the differences are adopted for bona fide
purposes.278 Differential treatment of pharmaceutical patents vis-à-vis other patents could
therefore be justified to the extent that this is conducive to the promotion of public health (i.e.
through the production of low-priced, locally produced drugs, or the importation of low-
priced generics).279

Structural claims:


 Countries seeking to preserve a broad public domain in pharmaceutical substances are
free to obligate patent applicants to specify the particular purpose the invention should
serve in addition to the structure. Without this specification, patent protection could
possibly cover uses of the described structure for any purpose, even those unknown to
the inventor at the time of filing the application. Thus, if a Government wishes to keep
the scope of the patent rather narrow, it could adopt, in the Patents Act or the
Examination Guidelines, a requirement to limit structural claims to expressly indicated
purposes (“use-bound claims”).280 But even the limitation of patent claims to specific
uses will not alter the fact that the same claims cover all possible ways of making a
product, as opposed to process claims, which only encompass the indicated way of
manufacture (see above, box 1). Thus, for example, in case a drug is patented only for
its use against cancer, competing producers may use the original substance for the
purpose of fighting HIV/AIDS, but would still need a license from the patentee to
make that substance. To the extent that the competitor holds a patent (product or
process) on the new use, s/he may apply for a compulsory license for dependent
patents, Article 31(l), TRIPS Agreement. Where the new use is off-patent, producers
seeking to market the new use could invoke the public interest in making available
new cures to obtain a public interest compulsory license, or a compulsory license to



276 Article 27.1, second sentence. Adopting different rules on claims formulation in different areas of technology
may lead to different scopes of patent claims, depending on the area of technology.
277 See Canada - Patent Protection of Pharmaceutical Products, WT/DS114/R of 17 March 2000, para. 7.94.
278 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 481.
279 While public health arguably constitutes a bona fide purpose in this respect, the above WTO panel did not
specifically address this issue.
280 This option has already been analyzed in the overall discussion of new medical uses of known products, in the
context of patentable subject matter, see above, Section 2.3.2.




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rectify an abuse of the original patent, arguing that the latter was being used to prevent
the marketing of new cures not encompassed by the original patent claims.


 As it has been observed in the discussion of new uses of known products, follow-on
uses of a patented drug are most likely to be discovered by the patent holder himself.
In that case, the holder of the original patent could add another period of protection of
twenty years on the underlying substance (provided product patent protection is
available for new uses under domestic legislation). A better approach may therefore be
the adoption of non-exclusive incentive regimes (i.e. compensatory liability) for new
uses of known products, as discussed above.


 By contrast, unlimited structural claims could potentially prevent the extension of the
patent term on the same substance by the patent holder. The original patent would
comprise all uses, even those not known to the patentee at the time of filing the
application. While this approach would automatically exclude third parties from
exploiting new uses of the same substance during the life of the original patent, it
would treat any later discovered new use of the underlying product as being covered
by the original structural claims, thus rendering impossible any extension of the patent
on such basis.281


 Whether a country tailors its structural claims as limited to the claimed uses or as
unlimited depends, inter alia, on the potential of its local generic producers. In
countries where generic producers are capable of discovering new uses of patented
pharmaceuticals, a government may favour the implementation of use-bound claims to
provide generic producers some freedom to operate outside the original patent claims,
in combination with provisions on “dependent patent” or public interest compulsory
licenses, as outlined above. In addition, in order to minimize the risk of blocking
effects, the protection of new uses of known products could be limited to non-
exclusive models, such as a compensatory liability regime, recommended above.
Where the discovery of new uses by local producers seems unlikely, governments may
consider structural claims that encompass all possible uses, thereby preventing an
extension of the original patent by the original patentee.282


 Regarding patented processes, the claims could be required to refer to the various
steps needed to complete the process, as well as the purposes for which the process
will be used. Due to the fact that such process claims may not cover all possible ways
of manufacturing the resulting product, competitors are free to make the
(pharmaceutical) product through a process that has not been claimed.



Functional claims:


 Governments seeking to avoid overly broad claims could consider a rejection of
unlimited functional claims altogether, unless the reference to the function of the
invention is the only possible way of describing the invention (EPO approach).


 Alternatively, functional claims could be generally admitted, but could be limited to
those chemical structures that are specified in the patent application. An example for
this approach can be found in United States law, where functional claims may not



281 This presupposes, however, that countries do not apply the legal fictions employed under the EPC, where new
use product patents are admitted on the same substance despite the fact that the original patent already covered
all possible uses of the compound. See Article 54(4) and (5), EPC, and discussion on new uses, box. 2, above.
282 There is a close connection between claims construction and the patentability criteria: unlimited structural
claims should logically be supported by a novelty standard that excludes product patents for new uses, as those
uses are already included in the prior art patent on the original substance. An exception are the legal fictions
employed under the EPC, see above.




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refer to a function alone, but must describe the function in combination with the
corresponding structure, material, or acts described in the patent specification.



Product-by-process claims:


 Governments seeking to limit the scope of patent claims to the greatest possible extent
could interpret product-by-process claims as being restricted to the particular
manufacturing method recited in the claims and the resulting end product, so that
competitors would avoid patent infringement by manufacturing the product through a
different process. This would limit the invention to an ordinary process patent (Article
28.1 (b), TRIPS Agreement). This approach was followed in a 1992 opinion in the
United States Federal Circuit.283


 Further options exist with regard to the extent to which the end product is protected:
o Claims may cover a product as actually obtained through the specified process;
o Alternatively, claims could cover any product obtainable through that process.


This latter claim would be much wider, covering more than just one product.284
Competitors seeking to manufacture different end products would not have the
legal security of knowing the exact scope of the patent;


o Where considered necessary to preserve the public domain, reference in a
claim to the production process could be combined with a reference to a
particular function that the end product is meant to serve.



Markush claims:


 This specific format of structural claims is appropriate in situations where a
government seeks to provide for strong proprietary rights. The public domain
available for generic competitors is considerably restricted in a scheme where
Markush claims are allowed.


 Governments seeking to maintain a strong public domain may consider rejecting
Markush claims entirely.


 Where domestic producers have acquired an advanced level of expertise in
pharmaceutical production, Markush claims could facilitate the domestic producers’
task of applying for patents on a family of compounds sharing a common chemical
structure. Governments wishing to take advantage of this option but who are
concerned about the public domain available for domestic competitors could seek to
limit Markush claims to those compounds that share a common purpose in terms of
medical use. This is the approach taken under the USPTO Patent Examination
Guidelines, which make Markush claims dependent on a shared common utility.285
However, this would not address one of the fundamental concerns with this claims
format, i.e. the lack of disclosure of the particular structure and properties of all of the
claimed chemical alternatives.286



Jepson claims: this claims format can be recommended in general, as it clearly establishes
existing prior art and thus facilitates the task of patent offices to distinguish genuine
inventions from trivial modifications. As indicated by the EPO’s preference for this claims
format, this is an option that is also of interest to developed countries.

Skuballa claims:

283 Atlantic Thermoplastics Co. v. Faytex Corp., cited in Thomas, p. 229, fn. 146.
284 See Correa, 2000, p. 33, with reference to Grubb.
285 See UNCTAD-ICTSD-WHO Pharmaceutical Patents, p. 13.
286 Ibid, p. 12.




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 This claims format waives the requirement to specifically claim individual dosages of
pharmaceutical substances needed for certain uses and therefore may only be
appropriate for those developing countries where pharmaceutical producers and
scientists have acquired the necessary level of know-how to infer required dosages
from the patent claim.


 Countries lacking such expertise should consider whether the Skuballa format is
appropriate. It may be preferable to require disclosure in the claims of each dosage
required for a particular medical use.



In sum, countries are free to tailor the above claims formats to their specific needs and
national priorities. Different claims formats may be combined where considered necessary to
preserve the public domain.


2.6 Patent claims interpretation


2.6.1 Background


The claims set out in a patent application define the technological area that may not legally be
invaded by third parties. Depending on the way the claim is formulated, the patent holder may
prevent others from using a product or a process for certain purposes (see above). When a
claim of infringement arises, a court must interpret the claims set out in the patents with a
view to determining their scope and meaning. Then the claims as interpreted must be
compared to the product or process accused of infringement.287

A literal infringement occurs (in United States law) when the accused product or process
“included every element … as recited in at lease one of … [the patentee’s] claims.”288 Under
United States law, an accused product or process that includes fewer elements or steps than
those recited in claims will not infringe the literal scope of the patent. Whether an accused
technology can include more than the listed elements without literally infringing a patented
product or process depends on how the drafters have initially chosen to describe their
invention in the language of the claims, i.e. in the transition phrase.289

Under United States law, claim construction is a matter of law, not fact.290 However, in most
developed countries the scope of protection is not necessarily limited to cases of literal
infringement. Rather, courts may invoke a “doctrine of equivalents” to reach beyond acts of
literal infringement in order to prohibit accused products or processes that present trivial or
“insubstantial” differences from the claimed invention. As Thomas has observed, when courts
“apply the doctrine of equivalents they attempt to balance fair protection for the patentee with
appropriate notice to competitors of the scope of the patentee’s exclusive rights.”291 Phrased
differently, the doctrine of equivalents serves to demonstrate the zone in which second comers
can freely “work around” or “invent around” the claims of the patent without fear of



287 Thomas, p. 455.
288 Ibid, pp. 456-57.
289 Ibid, p. 456, and above, Section 2.5.
290 Ibid, p. 458, with reference to Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc. (Federal Circuit).
291 Ibid, p. 464.




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infringement. The broader the concept of equivalence, the wider is the scope of the patent,
encompassing a multitude of elements not expressly referred to in the patent claims.

As opposed to the above discussion on derivatives of known substances (Section 2.4), which
examines to what extent structural modifications warrant an additional patent, the purpose of
patent claim interpretation under the doctrine of equivalents is to determine to what extent
structural and other modifications are encompassed by the original patent. How the doctrine
of equivalents is applied in practice varies from country to country and from period to period
within any given country. It can also vary from one subject matter to another, and it raises
particularly complex technical questions in the chemical and pharmaceutical fields.

Historically, countries whose technological development originally focused on reverse
engineering, notably Japan, tended to rely on literal infringement, without much recourse to a
doctrine of equivalents, in the early stages. This strategy tends to narrow the scope of
protection when foreign patentees dominate the landscape, without discrimination, while
freeing up more room for follow-on innovation by local inventors who may work around
these patents without literally infringing them. However, once that same country has begun to
invest heavily in basic research it may choose to embrace a broader doctrine of equivalents in
order to maximize potential returns to investors who have assumed proportionately greater
risk in bringing so-called “pioneer inventions” to the market.

Developed country patent law concerning the doctrine of equivalents is technically complex
and subject to discordant interpretations of ambiguous and sometimes conflicting precedents.
As a general rule, according to the “Function - Way - Result” standard laid down by the
United States Supreme Court Decision in Graver Tank v. Linde Air Products Co., the accused
technology infringes the patent if it performs the same function in the same way to achieve
the same result.292 As emphasized under German patent law, this similarity in function, way
and result has to be obvious to a person skilled in the art, based on the information contained
in the patent claims. Non-obvious variations of the claimed invention thus fall outside the
claims and might warrant a separate patent.293

Against this background, some general trends in the use of the doctrine of equivalents in the
United States may be identified.294 Before 1982, for example, when the non-obviousness
standard was relatively high and patents were routinely invalidated by the federal appellate
courts, those patents that survived judicial scrutiny may have attracted a broader scope of
equivalents. After 1982, when the CAFC was installed, the eligibility criteria have arguably
been lowered, and it has become much harder to judicially invalidate issued patents. At the
same time, more attention has been paid to narrowing the scope of patents that increasingly
reflect merely incremental innovation. In this area, the range of equivalents tolerated by the
courts has accordingly attracted considerable attention, and may shrink under the application
of various limiting doctrines as the jurisprudence on the matter continues. As opposed to this
development regarding trivial changes, equivalents are being used more generously to protect
pioneering advances.



292 339 U.S. 605, 85 USPQ2d 328 (1950).
293 See Ensthaler, pp. 123/124, for Germany.
294 See Thomas, pp. 464 ff.




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2.6.2 Policy options


As developing countries familiarize themselves with the patenting of pharmaceuticals, they
will have to formulate policies and doctrines to deal with the question of equivalents beyond
literal infringement.



In general, a country with limited manufacturing capacity is initially well served by a doctrine
of literal infringement with little room for appeal to the doctrine of equivalents. This strategy
maximizes the room for generic producers and improvers to work around existing
pharmaceutical patents. Countries with growing capacity, such as Brazil, China and India,
may also benefit from a narrow doctrine of equivalents, especially because it may help to
enable them to develop incremental improvements and adaptations of foreign products
without literally infringing them, and also because it helps to reduce patent thickets and
blocking effects in delicate upstream research sectors, particularly biotechnology. Where
blocking effects occur because a locally developed improvement cannot be practiced without
infringing a dominant patent, a compulsory license for so-called “dependent patents” should
be readily available under legislation implementing Article 31(l) of the TRIPS Agreement. In
order to avoid the patenting of trivial improvements, patentability criteria may be applied
strictly, as outlined in Section 2.4, above.

Nevertheless, States with growing technical capacity and a narrow doctrine of equivalents will
increasingly experience negative tradeoffs if that doctrine of equivalents is uncritically
applied to major technical or medical advances that may emerge from their universities and
research institutes. In that case, OECD country law provides an arsenal of technical
interpretations that permit courts to expand the doctrine of equivalents in appropriate cases,
without violating norms against discrimination, to adjust the doctrine of equivalents to the
weight of the technical advance in any given patent. The flexibility in the design of the
doctrine of equivalents, which is not regulated by the TRIPS Agreement, must be used with
caution. It cannot become an excuse to condone piracy or discrimination against foreign
patentees. At the same time it is a useful and important tool in adjusting a country’s patent
policy to evolving technical capabilities.


2.7 Disclosure of patented inventions


2.7.1 Background


The TRIPS Agreement provides that members shall require an applicant for a patent to
disclose the invention in a sufficiently clear and complete manner so that the invention may
be carried out by a person skilled in the art (Article 29). This obligation reflects the basic
concept of patent law: in exchange for receiving a temporary exclusive right, the patent holder
makes his/her invention available to the public at large. Disclosure of the invention is made
through the description or “specification”, which a patent application has to contain, in
addition to the patent claims (see above, Section 2.5). The scope of the patent claims cannot
reach beyond the scope of the specification.295


295 Thomas, p. 206.




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Despite the disclosure requirement, patent applications are often not sufficiently detailed or
self-explanatory for persons skilled in the art to be able to utilize the disclosed information for
future follow-on innovation, particularly in developing countries. The TRIPS Agreement
provides some flexibility on how developing country governments may respond to this
situation.


2.7.2 Policy options


The TRIPS Agreement provides some leeway for governments to improve the effective value
of patent application documents to their local researchers and scientists. In particular:


 The person skilled in the art to whom the disclosure must be sufficiently clear and
complete may be defined as a local developing country expert, rather than a scientist
with expertise representing OECD country standards. In addition, skills may be
defined as representing the national average, rather than the top standard. This will
require the patent applicant to provide a more complete, comprehensive disclosure. In
the pharmaceutical context, this could mean that all elements of claimed compositions
would have to be disclosed and explained.


 The TRIPS Agreement authorizes members to require the applicant to indicate the best
mode known to her/him for carrying out the invention (Article 29.1). This is an
important contribution for helping local innovators and researchers fully understand
the technology claimed in the patent. Many areas of today’s technologies are so
complex that patent applications alone are often not comprehensible to potential
competitors of the patentee. A best mode requirement would thus be an important step
toward the creation of a pro-competitive environment for technology development and
follow-on innovation. Major developed countries such as the United States have
chosen to implement the best mode requirement in their domestic patent law.296 The
usefulness of this option may be limited in cases where the best mode for the
manufacture of pharmaceutical products is not known at the time of filing the
application, as production has not commenced on that date.297


 The TRIPS Agreement also authorizes members to require that a patent applicant
provide information concerning the applicant’s corresponding foreign applications and
grants (Article 29.2). This could provide important guidance for inexperienced
developing country patent examiners regarding the patentability of the invention in
question and the actual scope of the patent. At the same time, it should be kept in mind
that the design of developed country patentability criteria corresponds to these
countries’ particular state of technological development and might not be appropriate
for countries depending on a broader public domain. This being said, information on
foreign applications and grants could also help a developing country patent examiner
to better identify those particular elements of an invention that do not deserve patent
protection.



296 Thomas, p. 208, citing 35 U.S.C. §112.
297 South Centre, 2000, p. 60.




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3. Post-grant flexibilities


3.1 Exceptions to patent rights


3.1.1 Introduction


Once a patent has been granted, the scope of the exclusive rights conferred may be limited for
certain public interest reasons considered superior to the interests of the patent holder. “Where
the line is drawn between those areas that are the preserve of the patent holder to control, and
those areas i.e. of exceptions and limitations which the patent holder may not control, is
therefore a very important policy question for members.” 298 Conceptually, one must
distinguish the topic of this section from exceptions to patentability that result in the non-
granting of a patent (e.g. substances found in nature, see above). Exceptions to exclusive
rights as considered here apply after a patent has been granted.

Before the TRIPS Agreement was adopted in 1994, when States were relatively free to adopt
exceptions to patent law as they wished, a group of exceptions that were established in state
practice became widely recognized in multilateral negotiating forums. These exceptions are
listed in table 3 below.

Table 3: Overview of established exceptions under national patent laws


Exception to patent rights Nature of policy problem addressed


Private & Non-commercial Use De minimus activity should be shielded from patent
infringement


Experimental Use Scientific/technical progress must not be hindered by
the patent system


Prior Use Prior users should be treated fairly vis-à-vis patent
holders


Pharmacy Pharmacists should be free to make medicines for
supply to patients on the basis of individual medical
prescriptions submitted to them by doctors without
fear of patent infringement



298See Garrison, p. ix.




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Exception to patent rights Nature of policy problem addressed


Foreign vessels Freedom of international movement of foreign vessels
must not be hindered by patent


International civil aviation
(Chicago)


Freedom of international movement (and maintenance)
of foreign aircraft must not be hindered by patents


Regulatory review (Bolar) Competition between patented medicines and generic
medicines must be enabled as swiftly as possible after
the expiry of the medicine patent


National exhaustion* Once a patent holder has sold a patented product, they
ought not to be able to control subsequent dealings
with the product, e.g., resale or repair


European regional exhaustion* Once a patented product has been sold on the
European market, freedom of movement of goods
throughout the rest of the market must not be hindered
by patents


Source: Garrison, p. x.


*Note that the classification of patent rights exhaustion as a form of exception is not
imperative; it may also be argued that, since exhaustion terminates the exclusive distribution
rights, it goes beyond the scope of a mere exception. Note also that the doctrine of
international patent rights exhaustion has also been widely accepted; see the discussion of
parallel imports, below.



Of these exceptions, an early draft of the TRIPS Agreement (i.e. the Anell Draft of 23 July,
1990) listed the following exceptions for consideration in the negotiating text:299


1. Rights based on prior use;
2. Acts done privately and for non-commercial purposes;
3. acts done for experimental purposes;
4. Preparation of prescription medicines in a pharmacy;
5. Certain acts done in reliance upon them not being prohibited by a valid claim present


in a patent as initially granted, but subsequently becoming prohibited by a valid claim
of that patent changed in accordance with procedures for effecting changes to patents
after grant; and


6. Acts done by government for purposes merely of its own use.



299 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 432.




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Eventually, however, when consensus on a complete list of exceptions became impossible,
this list was withdrawn and in its place Article 30, TRIPS Agreement adopted a three-step
general standard on all exceptions to patent rights as follows:


“Members may provide 1 limited exceptions to the exclusive rights conferred by a
patent, provided that such exceptions 2 do not unreasonably conflict with a normal
exploitation of the patent and 3 do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests
of the patent owner, taking account of the legitimate interests of third parties.”300



This text was based on Article 9 (2) of the Berne Convention regarding reproduction rights
under copyright law. As compared to the latter, Article 30 of the TRIPS Agreement makes at
least one important modification concerning the third testing criterion that expressly refers to
the public interest as an element to be taken into account when assessing the prejudice caused
to the legitimate interests of the patent holder.

Despite the adoption of a standard in Article 30, the above-mentioned exceptions (table 3) are
thought to be consistent with the TRIPS Agreement, since they were widely practiced at the
time of its adoption and no objections to them were raised.301 In practice, however, any of
these pre-existing exceptions may be adopted by domestic laws in narrower or broader forms,
and would be ultimately tested for compliance with the standard adopted in Article 30, TRIPS
Agreement through WTO dispute settlement proceedings.

Three further considerations are worth noting. First, the pre-existing limitations have not
stood still even in states that had previously adopted them. Rather, they continued to evolve,
growing broader or narrower depending on the jurisdiction. For example, the common law
research exemption in the United States was recently narrowed so drastically by the Court of
Appeals for the Federal Circuit that it no longer allows university scientists to use patented
inventions for pure research purposes without risk of liability for infringement (see Section
3.1.2, infra). Efforts to override this decision by statute have so far not succeeded. In contrast,
the research exemptions in some other developed countries remain broad to permit research
by commercial firms, even for purposes of working around a patented invention.

Second, since the implementation of Article 30, TRIPS Agreement, a number of States have
adopted new exceptions, often prompted by the expansion of patent protection into new fields.
Table 4 provides a summary of these new exceptions, whose validity has not yet been
challenged.

Table 4: Post-TRIPS patent exceptions under national patent laws


Exception to patent right Nature of policy problem addressed


Business method prior use Prior users of business methods should be treated
fairly vis-à-vis patent holders.



300 Numbers added to indicate the three steps.
301 Garrison, p. 2.




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Exception to patent right Nature of policy problem addressed


Medical practitioner Freedom for medical practitioners to carry out
medical treatments


Farmers privilege Need for farmers to be able to harvest and re-sow
their own seeds


New variety breeding Need for breeders to be able to use present
varieties as a basis from which to breed new
varieties


Teaching Freedom to teach students


Source: Garrison, p. xii.

Third, the one WTO panel decision interpreting the three-step test of Article 30, TRIPS
Agreement (Canada - Patent Protection of Pharmaceutical Products302) has been criticized
on numerous grounds, especially for insufficient attention to the public interest inherent in the
third prong, the Preamble, and Articles 7 and 8 of the TRIPS Agreement.303 Moreover, this
decision dealt with pharmaceutical products before the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and
Public Health was adopted. Even then, the panel decision upheld a member’s right to allow
the reverse-engineering of patented products for the purpose of obtaining early regulatory
approval of generics, while denying members the right to stockpile those generics, prior to
patent expiry, for sale after patent expiry.304

The rest of this section will focus on a limited number of exceptions thought to be of
particular relevance to pharmaceutical production in developing countries. The “policy space”
for additional exceptions will be briefly explored.


3.1.2 The experimental use exception


3.1.2.1 Background


Under the TRIPS Agreement, the stated objective of IPR protection and enforcement is to:


“contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and
dissemination of technology …” (Article 7).



While the availability of exclusive rights provides an important incentive for inventors to
engage in inventive activity and to disclose the results of their efforts to the public, exclusive



302 WT/DS114/R (hereinafter Canada - Generics).
303 See Garrison, Section 3 (pp. 19 ff.).
304 For a detailed discussion of the Canada - Generics panel report, see Garrison, pp. 19-43.




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rights in certain substances and processes may also hinder scientific progress to the extent that
scientists must experiment on and with existing inventions in order to prove new scientific
theories and to develop new research tools (fundamental or basic research). A research
exemption ought to carve out a “safe harbour” for scientific activities that might otherwise be
blocked by patents. The problem that blocking patents pose has become particularly acute in
the realm of biotechnology, where the line between theoretical and applied research has
disintegrated and where many inventions of great commercial value serve a dual purpose as
research tools for the scientific community. As explained above, such research tools may pass
the “industrial application” or “utility” test and thus be patentable to the extent that a specific
function of the research tool has been identified.

Beyond the need to preserve space for scientific researchers to develop new knowledge, there
are related questions pertaining to the ability of researchers in commercial enterprises to
conduct research on or with patented inventions for the purpose of making additional
inventions based on the protected subject matter, such as improvements or adaptations of
existing products or processes, or for discovering ways to “invent around” the patented
invention (commercial research). Here, the research in question potentially has a more direct
commercial outcome, yet it serves an important public purpose. Indeed, scientific and
technological progress of a society depends to a large extent on such “follow-on innovation”,
for which inventors and/or scientists need access to patented subject matter.

For local pharmaceutical producers, moreover, the purpose of commercialization is obviously
of key importance. Therefore, a question arises concerning the extent to which generic
producers and/or researchers are authorized to use patented substances for the development of
new products.

In some developed countries’ legislation on patent exceptions, the distinction between
scientific research purposes on the one hand and commercial purposes on the other hand is not
always very clear. For instance, the German Patents Act broadly provides that the scope of the
patent shall not extend to acts relating to the protected subject matter done for experimental
purposes. 305 The reference to “experimental purposes” is rather vague and arguably
encompasses those cases where commercial interest is one of the driving forces behind
experimental activities. Accordingly, the German BGH ruled that in cases where the
experiments in question are intended for the purpose of gaining new knowledge about the
patented subject matter, including its uses, or to promote technological progress, any activity
on the patented subject matter may be justified under the experimental use exemption, even
where there is an ultimate commercial objective in addition to the purpose of knowledge
generation. 306 Along the same lines, the International Association for the Protection of
Intellectual Property (AIPPI) adopted its Resolution Q 202 (“The impact of public health
issues on exclusive patent rights”) in September 2008, which states that:


“1.1) Patent law should provide for an exception to the rights of a patentee, allowing
a party to undertake, without the authorization of the patentee, experiments relating to



305 See § 11, No. 2 of the German Patents Act.
306 See BGH decision of 11 July 1995, Klinische Versuche, Pressemitteilungen des Bundesgerichtshofs 1995, p.
274; cited in H. Schubert (University of Erlangen-Nürnberg), “Nutzung von Patenten zu Versuchszwecken”,
who provides a detailed analysis of the decision (available at: http://www.uni-erlangen.de/einrichtungen/WTT/
erfinderberatung/versuchsprivileg.shtml).




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the subject-matter of the invention, irrespective of whether the ultimate aim of the
experiments may be commercial. […]”307



The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has suggested altering Australian patent
law to include a statutory provision on an experimental use exception, which emphasizes the
experimental character of the exception, but does not exclude the existence of additional
commercial motivations:


o “The Commonwealth should amend the Patents Act 1990 (Cth) (Patents Act)
to establish an exemption from patent infringement for acts done to study or
experiment on the subject matter of a patented invention; for example, to
investigate its properties or improve upon it. The amendment should also make
it clear that:


(a) the exemption is available only if study or experimentation is the sole or dominant
purpose of the act;


(b) the existence of a commercial purpose or objective does not preclude the
application of the exemption; ….”308



An interesting example of a statutory experimental use exception is provided under the new
Swiss Patents Act. Article 9 of the law exempts any research done to obtain new knowledge
about the patented subject matter, including its uses. 309 This provision is similar to the
jurisprudence of the German BGH (see above) and has been interpreted as allowing research
activities for both non-commercial and commercial purposes, as long as the objective of the
research is to reveal new knowledge about the patented invention.310 Thus, the patented
substance may be used to generate new knowledge that may be necessary for the development
of a new product, provided that the latter is not covered by the literal scope of the original
patent nor equivalent to its literal scope. The exception obviously does not authorize the mere
reproduction of the original product as covered by the original patent claims.

In focusing on the generation of new knowledge rather than on the commercial/non-
commercial dichotomy, the above approaches more appropriately accommodate the main
rationale for the experimental use exception, i.e. to prevent patents from blocking the
advancement of technological innovation. This being said, it is true that the above-mentioned
research exemptions refer, above all, to the objective of gaining new knowledge on the
patented invention. This has to be the main objective of any activity claiming justification
under this exception. The mere promotion of a competitor’s commercial activities alone will
not fall under this exception.



307 AIPPI, Resolution Question Q 202 “The impact of public health issues on exclusive patent rights”, 10
September 2008 (available at www.aippi.it/docc/RS202English.pdf).
308 Garrison, Section 4.3.1, quoting Recommendation 13-1 of the ALRC Final Report on “Genes and Ingenuity:
Gene Patenting and Human Health” (emphasis added).
309 See Article 9 I (b) of the Swiss Patents Act, as entered into force on 1 July 2008 (French language version
available at www.admin.ch/ch/f/rs/232_14/).
310 See N. Thumm, “A statutory research exemption for patents”, in Healthy IPRs. A Forward Look at
Pharmaceutical Intellectual Property, edited by M.P. Pugatch and A. Jensen, Stockholm Network, London,
2007, pp. 116-129 [hereinafter Thumm].




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Further guidance in this context may be had from a 2009 decision by the United Kingdom
High Court regarding the scope of the United Kingdom experimental use exception. The High
Court expressed the view that a commercial purpose behind a competitor’s use of patented
substances does not automatically rule out the possibility of invoking the experimental use
exception. Most pharmaceutical research is driven by commercial considerations. However,
the purpose of the experimental use exception is not to promote competitors’ commercial
activities, but to enable the generation of new knowledge on the protected substance. Thus,
the defendant in a patent infringement suit needs to show that the immediate purpose of his
activities is not to generate revenue, but to gain new knowledge on the patented product (e.g.
to enable future modifications of a drug). Where the defendant’s activities have mixed
purposes, the generation of new knowledge must be shown to be the preponderant purpose,
while the generation of revenue may constitute a secondary purpose.311

In the context of generic pharmaceutical production, it is important to note that the
experimental use exception alone will not authorize the sale and other commercialization of a
product that was lawfully developed under the exception. The purpose of the experimental use
exception, even in its wider forms as discussed above, is to enable activities related to the use
of the patented substance for the generation of new knowledge, which could result in the
development of a new product. However, the sale of such a new product constitutes a separate
activity, which is no longer part of the experimental activity, even if the latter had a
commercial objective.312 It follows that a producer who intends to market a product that was
legally developed on the basis of a patented product under an experimental use exception still
needs authorization from the holder of the original patent. This authorization would relate to
the use of the originally patented product for the production and sale of the newly developed
product, which may be granted a patent in itself. This constitutes a typical case of dependent
patents. The TRIPS Agreement under Article 31(l) authorizes Members to grant a compulsory
license to the holder of the subsequently developed patent. Under such a license, the follow-
on innovator would be authorized to use the original patent for the production and sale of his
improved substance, whereas the original innovator would equally be authorized to use the
invention claimed in the follow-on patent.

Another important qualification must be made with respect to the Swiss and German
experimental use exceptions: they only apply to research “on” (Article 9 I (b) of the Swiss
Patents Act; § 11, No 2 of the German Patents Act) the patented invention. Acts undertaken
for research “with” (see Article 40.b of the Swiss Patents Act) the invention (i.e. use as
research tool) are not covered. In this context, we should note the importance for researchers,
especially in biotechnology, to have the right to use the patented invention not only to gain
new knowledge on the subject matter of the invention (i.e. to experiment “on” the patented
invention, as covered by the German and Swiss experimental use exceptions), but also to use
the patented invention as an instrument or research tool to undertake further research (i.e. to
experiment “with” the patented invention). For example, the sole authorization to experiment
“on” the patented polymerase chain reaction would allow a researcher to find out more about
this procedure used in gene technology. However, it would not authorize her/him to actually

311 See CoreValve Inc v Edwards Lifesciences AG & anr [2009] EWHC 6 (Pat) (for a brief analysis of this
decision, see SJ Berwin, “High Court considers scope of experimental use defence to patent infringement”
(available at: http://www.sjberwin.com/html_newsletters/ebf/pharma/pharma_update/March2009/article2.html).
312 Note that this is an important difference between patent law/utility model law, on the one hand and the
protection of plant varieties under UPOV (1991 Act), on the other hand: according to Article 15 of UPOV 1991,
the breeder’s right shall not extend to acts done for experimental purposes, acts done for breeding other varieties,
and acts related to, inter alia, selling and other marketing of these other varieties. See Article 15(1)(ii), (iii) of
UPOV 1991.




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use this procedure as a tool to develop increased amounts of nucleotide sequences.313 In order
to ensure access to patented research tools, the Swiss Patents Act provides a right to claim a
non-exclusive license to use a patented biotechnological invention as a research tool.314
Where the parties cannot reach agreement on the fees, this issue may be decided by the
courts.315 The justification for treating experimental uses “on” the invention differently from
experimental uses “with” the invention may be justified by the fact that experiments “on” the
invention do not affect the normal exploitation of the patent by the right holder, while
experiments “with” the invention may be the only purpose of a patented research tool. In that
case, expanding the experimental use exemption to research tools would render impossible the
normal exploitation of the patent.

In the United States, by contrast, the CAFC has narrowed the common law experimental use
exception, limiting it to acts performed “for amusement, to satisfy idle curiosity, or for strictly
philosophical inquiry”.316 The CAFC considered the United States common law experimental
use exception as not encompassing any activities conducted with a commercial aim, and even
non-commercial academic research could be said to further the “legitimate business
objectives” of the university, “including educating and enlightening students and faculty
participating in these projects”, “increasing the status of the institution and luring lucrative
research grants.”317 According to Garrison, such a narrow view - if sustained by the Supreme
Court - “can clearly be expected to have a significant adverse impact on the ability of
researchers to operate in the United States.”318

In contrast, some developing countries have adopted broader termed experimental use
exceptions, although their application in the courts as well as their ability to remain broad
over time remains to be seen. China, for example, has adopted a potentially broad research
exemption. This may, however have been narrowed by subsequent regulations that distinguish
between experimentation on, and experimentation with a patented product (as do the Swiss
and the German laws). This distinction still permits experimental use to develop
improvements to the patented inventions.319


3.1.2.2 Policy options


The above review of national legislation illustrates the discretion available to governments to
design an experimental use exception. While national legislation in this regard has to respect
the boundaries for patent exceptions set up by the TRIPS Agreement (Article 30), no WTO
panel has thus far provided any authoritative interpretation of the extent to which Article 30,



313 Example taken from Thumm, pp. 120-121. According to this author, “the polymerase chain reaction is an
essential procedure of gene technology that allows small amounts of nucleotide sequences to increase. It also
allows for better approval and analysis of material and is therefore an important tool for research in many
laboratories.”
314 See Article 40 (b) of the Swiss Patents Act.
315 Thumm, p. 121.
316 Madey v. Duke University, 307 F.3d 1351 (Fed. Cir. 2002), quoted by F. Abbott, “Intellectual Property
Provisions of Bilateral and Regional Trade Agreements in Light of U.S. Federal Law”, UNCTAD-ICTSD Issue
Paper No. 12, February 2006, p. 8 hereinafter Abbott, 2006.
317 Madey v. Duke University, quoted by Garrison, p. 47.
318 Garrison, p. 47.
319 Ibid., p. 48.




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TRIPS Agreement covers the experimental use exception. 320 Moreover, it has been
observed321 that the actual application of TRIPS-compliant legislation in a particular case may
still result in TRIPS-inconsistency, not of the legislation as such, but of its application by
national authorities.

Nevertheless, one should bear in mind that the TRIPS Agreement leaves members
considerable leeway to determine the appropriate method of implementing its provisions
within their own legal system and practice (Article 1.1, TRIPS Agreement), consistent with
their own scientific and technological capabilities. The Appellate Body decision in the India -
Mailbox case 322 has been interpreted by at least one author as suggesting the need for
deference to state action under TRIPS once a good faith effort to comply has been
demonstrated.323 As found by Correa:


“The analysis of the legislation in developing countries and economies in
transition indicates that the research/experimentation exception has been widely
recognised in patent law both before and after the TRIPS Agreement. Many
countries – including the most technologically advanced – have not used,
however, the full room for maneouvre left by the Agreement to legislate on the
matter.”324



Against the background described above, it seems essential to design a provision that takes
account of the main policy rationale behind the experimental use exception, i.e. to ensure that
the granting of exclusive rights does not stifle technological progress. In this respect, some of
the laws reviewed above, such as the ones of Switzerland and Germany, appear to be
promising approaches. They focus on the generation of new knowledge on the invention
through experiments “on” the invention, irrespective of the nature of the activity as (non-)
commercial, provided the generation of new knowledge constitutes the primary purpose of the
activity at issue. Developing countries should consider adoption of a similar approach, in
combination with the possibility to grant compulsory licenses to enable the use of dependent
patents (Article 31(l), TRIPS Agreement, as explained above). At this point, it should be
reiterated that developing countries also have other options beyond patent law to provide
incentives for incremental innovation. In particular, a compensatory liability regime would
authorize competitors to market the results of their improvement-oriented research in
exchange for compensation, without the need to wait for the expiry of any exclusive rights in
the underlying product.

As far as experiments “with” the invention are concerned, we have pointed out above that the
industrial application standard may be used to limit the patentability of research tools, which
should, to the greatest extent possible, be available in the public domain for purposes of
follow-on and cumulative research. To the extent that even under a strict standard of industrial
application the patenting of a research tool becomes unavoidable, we recommend that

320 In Canada - Patent Protection of Pharmaceutical Products, WT/DS114/R of 17 March 2000, para. 7.69, the
Panel referred to the experimental use exception, but did not address the issue of its compliance with the
requirements under Article 30, TRIPS Agreement.
321 See South Centre, 2000, p. 66.
322 India - Patent Protection for Pharmaceutical and Agricultural Chemical Products (“India - Mailbox”), AB-
1997-5, WT/DS50/AB/R, 19 December 1997.
323 See J.H. Reichman, “Securing Compliance With the TRIPS Agreement After United States v India”, Journal
of International Economic Law, Vol. 1, No. 4, December 1998, pp. 585-601.
324 C. Correa, “The International Dimension of the Research Exception”, AAAS/SIPPI Paper, January 2004.




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developing country policy makers consider the approach taken under the Swiss Patents Act,
as described above. The Swiss approach to patented research tools effectively modifies the
exclusive rights character of the research tool patent, turning it into some form of “use and
pay” or “compensatory liability” regime, as advocated by Reichman (see above, Section
2.3.2). This non-exclusive approach rewards the inventor and at the same time avoids abusive
“blocking patents” on research tools that stifle technological innovation and progress. The
Swiss Patents Act provides the right to claim a non-exclusive license for a patented research
tool.325 This may have advantages for both the public and the inventor. The competitive use of
the patented research tool through a multitude of capable licensees (e.g. universities) is likely
to result in a rather quick development of new products and will thereby increase the market
value of the respective licenses, thus generating revenues that are possibly higher than those
gleaned under an exclusive license, where the development of new products may be slower
due to lack of competition.

In sum, governments, when designing a scientific research exception that meets the
requirements of Article 30, TRIPS Agreement, may consider looking at some OECD
legislation/proposals (in particular the Swiss Patents Act), which do not necessarily preclude
an application of the exception to acts done for commercial purposes, as long as the activity
serves the purpose of generating more knowledge “on” the invention. For experiments “with”
the invention, the first option should always be the exclusion of research tools from
patentability, to the greatest possible extent, through a strict industrial application requirement.
Where patenting becomes unavoidable, a compensatory liability (“use and pay”) system
involving non-exclusive licenses appears an appropriate way of providing a pro-competitive
environment for the development of new products through the use of patented research tools.


3.1.3 The regulatory review (“Bolar”) exception


3.1.3.1 Background


A patent confers upon its holder the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, etc.
the protected product or process. The patent, however, does not authorize the right owner to
put the patented product on the market. With respect to pharmaceutical products, such
authorization may often be obtained from a specialized government body, hereinafter referred
to as Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA).

Obtaining approval from a DRA for the marketing of a drug might take a considerable amount
of time, sometimes up to several years.326 Generic producers, in order to obtain marketing
approval, often depend on the use of essentially the same substance or active ingredients as
those used in a patented drug for which the originator has already received marketing
approval, based on clinical trial data. Such use of the patented substance may consist either of
submitting the proposed generic substitutes to the DRA for bio-equivalence testing, or of
using the substance for the production of the generic producers’ own test data to prove to the
DRA that the generic version of the drug meets certain safety and efficacy standards.327 From

325 See Article 40 b of the Patent Act, and Thumm, p. 122.
326 For more details on the drugs approval process, see M. Pugatch, “Intellectual Property, Data Exclusivity,
Innovation and Market Access”, in Negotiating Health, pp. 97 ff. [hereinafter Pugatch].
327 For more details on these different marketing approval procedures, see Section 3.5.




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the point of view of a generic competitor, regulatory approval processes thus require
considerable time, effort and money invested in reverse-engineering the patented
product/compound, as well as formulating an equivalent product, and they may require
substantial amounts of test production to demonstrate reliable manufacturing.328

If the patent holder could use his/her exclusive right to prevent generic producers from using
the patented substance in these ways in order to obtain marketing approval a generic producer
could only prepare to submit a request for marketing approval after the patent has expired.
Considering the time required for the approval process, marketing of the generic drug would
thereby be delayed to well after the expiry of the patent, thus extending, de facto, the
exclusive position of the patented drug on the market. From a public health perspective,
delayed market entry of generic competitors is likely to delay any possible decrease of drug
prices.

For these reasons, it is advisable for WTO members, from a public health perspective, to
include a regulatory review exception in their patent legislation,329 as many OECD countries
have done. While some of them, like Germany under its experimental use exception,
proceeded “a long way down the road to permitting the sorts of activity that is enabled under a
separate Regulatory Review exception”, 330 the United States and Canada were the first
countries to introduce a stand-alone regulatory review exception into their domestic laws.331
The WTO Panel in Canada–Patent Protection of Pharmaceutical Products ruled that such
provisions fall within the room for exceptions that Article 30, TRIPS Agreement allows. The
Panel stressed that so long as the patented product is produced for the sole purpose of
obtaining marketing approval, and no commercial use is made of the resulting final products
until after expiry of the patent, such production efforts would satisfy the TRIPS Agreement
conditions for patent exceptions.332 However, the Panel made it clear that a “stockpiling”
provision authorizing generic producers to manufacture, during the patent term, an unlimited
stock of generic copies to be sold immediately after patent expiry would not satisfy the
requirements for patent exceptions under Article 30, TRIPS Agreement.333 Whether this part
of the Panel’s decision would withstand re-examination under the Doha Declaration on
TRIPS and Public Health remains to be seen.334

Since the WTO Panel’s ruling in 2000, the European Union, which previously opposed a
regulatory review exception, has adopted a version of its own.335 Developing countries, such
as Brazil, China, Egypt, India, and Kenya have also introduced regulatory review exceptions
in their domestic laws.336


328 Canada - Patent Protection of Pharmaceutical Products, Report of the Panel, para. 7.45.
329 The regulatory review exception is also referred to as “Bolar” exception, named after the first court case on
this exception in the United States (Roche Products Inc. vs. Bolar Pharmaceutical Co.; 733 F. 2d. 858, Fed. Cir.,
cert. denied 469 US 856, 1984).
330 Garrison, p. 58.
331 Ibid, pp. 14 (United States), 19 (Canada).
332 See Report of the Panel, para. 7.45. The Panel considered such an exception as “limited” in terms of Article
30, as a production limited to regulatory approval purposes would leave the bulk of the patentee’s exclusive
rights (i.e. production, use and sale for commercial purposes) untouched.
333 Report of the Panel, para. 7.34. As opposed to the case where production is limited to marketing approval
purposes, an unlimited stockpiling authorization entirely removes the patentee’s exclusive right to make and to
use the protected product during the patent term.
334 See Garrison, pp. 40-42.
335 Directive 2001/83/EC as amended by Directive 2004/27/EC.
336 For details, see Garrison, pp. 58 ff.




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When formulating such provisions, members must decide whether to allow such exceptions to
cover activities relating to any compound for which it could reasonably be believed that
approval might be sought, or to limit the exception to compounds for which approval is
actually sought. A Supreme Court decision in the United States337 authorized the broader
option (i.e. for both pre-clinical and clinical research), and developing countries should
seriously consider following suit (see Section 3.1.3.2). These countries will also wish to
evaluate Canada’s even broader (and WTO-approved) version of the exception, which allows
activity for regulatory review in foreign countries, unlike the United States form of the
exception.338

In this context, it is important to note that laws protecting the use of clinical test data (both in
the domestic OECD context and as spread among developing nations through bilateral and
regional free trade agreements) can interfere with the generic producer’s ability to reap the
full benefits of an existing regulatory review exception. While the latter exception authorizes
a generic producer to use a patented substance for purposes reasonably related to the granting
of marketing approval through a DRA, some countries’ laws on clinical test data prevent the
DRA from relying, for a certain period of time, on the originator’s previously submitted
clinical data for the purpose of approving a bioequivalent generic product. The only way for
generic producers to receive marketing approval for their product before the expiry of the data
exclusivity period is then through the generation of their own test data, which requires them to
repeat the same clinical trials already undertaken by the owner of the exclusive test data rights,
despite the fact that safety and efficacy of the generic product may simply be established by
showing its equivalence with the originator drug.339 Undertaking their own clinical trials is
too costly and time consuming for most generic producers, who will in that case await the
expiry of the period of test data exclusivity. This wait will cause a considerable delay in the
granting of regulatory approval for the generic drugs, which is contrary to the purpose of the
regulatory review exception.

In addition, even in cases where the generic producer could effectively produce his own trial
data, certain provisions in FTAs obligate the DRA to refrain from granting marketing
approvals on generic drugs as long as the original version is protected under a domestic patent
(so-called “linkage” of patent law and drug regulation). Rather than leaving the task of patent
enforcement up to the patentee, these laws turn the DRA into a patent enforcement authority,
despite the fact that many of these authorities, especially in developing countries, do not have
the expertise to verify the patent status of a drug. As observed by Abbott, even developed
country DRAs may face serious problems when seeking to verify the patent status of a
drug.340

As a result of patent linkage provisions, a generic producer will receive marketing approval
only after the expiry of a patent on the originator drug, despite the existence of a regulatory
review exception. The TRIPS Agreement, by contrast, would not prevent the DRA from
granting marketing approval during the term of the patent, thus providing the generic
producer with the legal security needed to invest into the establishment of manufacturing
facilities to ensure timely commencement of production right after expiry of the patent on the



337 Merck v. Integra Lifesciences, 125 S. Ct. 2372 of 13 June 2005.
338 Garrison, p. 58.
339 For more details, see the discussion on test data protection, Section 3.5, below.
340 F.M. Abbott, “The Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health and the Contradictory
Trend in Bilateral and Regional Free Trade Agreements”, Quaker United Nations Office Occasional Paper 14,
April 2004, p. 8 [hereinafter Abbott, Contradictory Trend].




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originator drug. In addition, “linkage” provisions, as discussed above, prevent generic
producers from challenging poor quality patents in patent infringement litigation, after
bringing their generic copy to the market prior to the expiry of such patents.341 The above
concerns may explain why some important WTO members such as the EU and India have so
far refused the adoption of patent linkage provisions in their domestic laws.342

Implementing a scheme in which marketing approvals are dependant on the term of the patent
may have other implications outside the scope of the regulatory review exception (particularly
in the area of compulsory licenses). These will be discussed in the context of clinical test data
protection (see Section 3.5).


3.1.3.2 Policy options


Should a government decide to include in the domestic patent legislation an express
regulatory review exception, the following observations apply:


A regulatory review provision generally must remain limited to regulatory approval
purposes, as authorized by the WTO panel (see above). For LDCs, which are not restricted
before 2016 by Article 30, TRIPS Agreement and related WTO jurisprudence (as regards
pharmaceutical products), it is advisable that they design their regulatory review
exceptions in a TRIPS-compliant manner, so as to avoid complicated rewriting of these
provisions after 2016.

Provisions allowing for the use of patented inventions for regulatory approval purposes
may be given various scopes. In particular:


 The exception could be limited to marketing approval requests in the national
market only. Alternatively, it could extend to requests made within a certain region
(such as a regional trade agreement) or even the entire world. This would authorize
production of medicines samples in the domestic territory to be used for approval
purposes abroad. 343 The bigger the geographical area covered, the higher the
economic incentive for a domestic generic producer to engage in large-scale
production for possible exportation of pharmaceuticals after expiry of the
respective national patents.


 The exception could be limited to acts directly related to the actual marketing
approval request. Alternatively, it could also cover uses of the patented substance
in the course of the pre-clinical trial phase (referring to acts “reasonably related to”



341 In this context, it should again be noted that as of June 2002, 73 per cent of patent invalidation claims
initiated by generic producers in the United States had been successful, see United States FTC Study, p. 16.
Between 2000 and 2007, generic competitors prevailed in 62 per cent of the final judgments rendered by
European courts in patent litigation cases between originator and generic companies. The vast majority of these
cases were initiated by originator companies. See EC Pharmaceutical Sector Inquiry, Executive Summary, p. 11.
342 Under Regulation (EC) No. 726/2004 and Directive (EC) No. 2001/83, patent linkage is considered unlawful
in the EU. Absent any express provisions in Indian domestic law, the New Delhi High Court in August 2009 in
Bayer Corp. & others vs Union of India & others (WP(C) No. 7833/2008) decided that there was no linkage
requirement in Indian law, and that the Indian drug regulatory authority may therefore grant marketing approval
for generic products without verifying the patent status of the approved drug. The decision is available at
http://lobis.nic.in/dhc/SRB/judgement/18-08-2009/SRB18082009MATC78332008.pdf.
343 For the use of the produced substance in the territory of the other country, the generic producer would have to
rely on a corresponding regulatory review exception in that country’s domestic law, if the substance is on-patent
in that country.




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marketing approval procedures). As indicated above, the United States Supreme
Court in its Merck v. Integra Lifesciences Decision344 interpreted the United States
regulatory review exception as authorizing the use of patented inventions for the
purpose of conducting research with respect to drugs as to which there is some
reasonable prospect that an application for marketing approval may be submitted,
regardless of whether an application is, in fact, eventually submitted or
successful.345 This option has important implications for generic producers, who
may depend on the availability of patented materials not only for the purpose of
proving bioequivalence but also during the early phases of pharmaceutical R&D.
For example, competitors may be interested in identifying the potential of a
patented compound for new medical indications (provided the original patent does
not cover all possible uses of a compound).346 In amending their patent legislation,
WTO members could therefore be guided by the United States regulatory review
provision as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court.347




3.1.4 Other possible exceptions


A number of other possible exceptions, relevant to the promotion of local pharmaceutical
production, may be interesting to some developing countries and to LDCs. We will note these
in passing.


 Medical practitioner exception: as noted above, Article 27.3 (a) of the TRIPS
Agreement authorizes members to exclude methods of treatment from patentability,
and developing countries will want to seriously consider this option. An alternative
view, however, favoured by the United States and the Australian Law Commission, is
to hold that patent incentives to medical treatments are too important to exclude them
from eligibility. Instead, while broadly allowing the patentability of medical tools and
techniques to encourage investment in R&D, the United States has adopted a narrow
exception to shield medical practitioners (and, for example, the hospital employing
them) from patent infringement when carrying out “pure medical methods”.348 This
exception would “cover an act such as making a surgical incision at a particular
location but would not cover the use of a patented tool for making that same
incision.”349 In Australia, questions have also been raised concerning the need for a
“new defence to claims of patent infringement based on the use of genetic materials
and technologies in diagnostic or therapeutic treatment.”350 It is worth noting that the
United States approach assumes that patients are able to afford the patented tools and
interventions that a practitioner might wish to use. The opposite may be true in



344 125 S. Ct. 2372 of 13 June 2005.
345 See Abbott, 2006, p. 8.
346 In the Merck v. Integra Lifesciences case, Merck used compounds patented by Integra Lifesciences in order to
find out more about potential new medical indications, but abandoned these activities as the patented substance
revealed unpromising in this regard. Integra sued Merck for patent infringement. See Garrison, p. 58. A more
narrow reading of the United States regulatory review exception would have found Merck liable for patent
infringement, as its use of the patented substance never actually contributed to a request for regulatory approval.
347 See 35 USC§ 271(e) of the United States Patent Act.
348 Garrison, p. 61.
349 Ibid.
350 Ibid, p. 62, quoting the Australian Law Reform Commission.




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developing countries, where competition would lower prices.351 In any event, the
United States has justified its use of this exception (in Section 287 (c) of its patent law)
under Article 30 of the TRIPS Agreement in response to questions at the Council for
TRIPS.352 Presumably, this option remains open to interested developing countries as
well.



 Teaching exception: An exception for teaching purposes has been integrated into the


laws of Argentina, Brazil and India that deal with experimental use. 353 Other
developing countries may wish to consider this example.



 Stockpiling for medical emergencies: A policy proposal has been made to enable


countries facing the threat of pandemic diseases to import and stockpile generic
versions of patented medicines in case of future need. Under this proposal, importing
countries would pay little more than the marginal cost of production for the privilege
of stockpiling emergency supplies. “If the generic medicines did ever actually have to
be used though, then the proposal requires that adequate compensation be paid to the
patent holder.” 354 The objective here would be to prepare for public health
emergencies while ensuring that patent holders would receive proper compensation if
the emergency materialized. The view has been expressed that such a provision could
be reconciled with some existing precedents that are deemed valid under Article 30,
TRIPS Agreement. 355 Developing countries may accordingly wish to take this
proposal into consideration.



 Humanitarian use: Proposals have also been made to allow States to limit the rights


of patentees to commercial activity, while establishing a carve-out for certain not-for-
profit activities such as humanitarian emergencies, to be carried out under an
appropriate exception.356 University technology transfer offices in some developed
countries have already begun to reserve rights to the results of government-funded
research, patented by the universities and licensed to the private sector, in order to
preserve opportunities for licensing to developing countries on differential and
preferential terms. Whether these or other practices will evolve into a formal exception
adopted by governments remains to be seen.


3.2 Parallel imports


3.2.1 Background


Pharmaceutical companies often sell their products at different prices in different areas of the
world, depending to a large extent on what the market will bear. Parallel importers take
advantage of the price difference between countries. They purchase certain IPR-protected
products at low price in a low-price country and import them into high price countries,



351 Ibid, p. 61.
352 Ibid, p. 62.
353 Ibid, p. 66.
354 Ibid, p. 76, citing a proposal of J. Love in the Financial Times of 28 October 2005.
355 Ibid, p. 76, with further explanation.
356 Ibid, p. 77.




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undercutting the local price set by the IPR holder. The low-priced products are imported in
parallel to the official channels of distribution established by the IPR holder (in this context
the holder of a pharmaceutical patent). It is important to note that parallel imports are not
counterfeits; they are original products of the patent holder sold by himself or an authorized
person on a given market, and purchased and subsequently re-sold legally by a third party.
Upon the first sale of the patented product, the patent holder loses the right to control the
further distribution and resale of that particular product; the idea being that through the first
sale, the patent holder has been sufficiently rewarded for his/her inventive efforts and his/her
exclusive selling and using rights in the product are therefore exhausted (commonly referred
to in EU countries as “exhaustion doctrine”, or “first sale doctrine” in the United States).357

During the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations, some developing countries
adopted the position that exclusive distribution rights should also be exhausted in case the
protected product is put on the market on the basis of a compulsory license, i.e. without the
authorization of the patent holder.358 This is contrary to the understanding of IPR exhaustion
in developed country legal traditions, which make exhaustion dependent on the right holder’s
consent.359 On the other hand, this approach has been followed by a number of developing
countries in recent domestic IP legislation.360

The first sale of a patented product could occur either in the country for which the patent has
been granted, or abroad. Domestic marketing of the patented product will in any case exhaust
the domestic exclusive using and selling rights. An important issue arises when the first
marketing occurs abroad. In this case, the concept of “international exhaustion” prescribes
that the using and selling rights available under the domestic patent will be exhausted as in the
case of domestic marketing. 361 By contrast, the concept of “national exhaustion” limits

357 A patent confers upon its holder a bundle of different exclusive rights: the rights to exclude others from
making, using, offering for sale, selling, or importing the patented product (Article 28.1, TRIPS Agreement). As
a result of patent exhaustion, the patent holder only loses those exclusive rights related to the distribution of the
particular product he has marketed; he may no longer exclude others from using, offering for sale, selling, or
importing that particular product. By contrast, he may still exclude others from making the product: exhaustion
does not affect his exclusive right in the invention as such (as opposed to the distribution of a particular product).
Purchasers of patented products may therefore resell them, but not copy them for commercial purposes.
358 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 102. Due to such fundamental differences in opinion, the TRIPS
Agreement contains no binding definition of what constitutes “exhaustion”.
359 This approach has also been adopted under the 1989 Treaty on Intellectual Property in Respect of Integrated
Circuits (Article 6.5, referring to marketing activities by, or with the consent of the right holder). See also
footnote 13 to Article 51, TRIPS Agreement, on the obligation to adopt certain border measures in cases of
trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy. Exempted from this obligation are goods put on the market in
another country by or with the consent of the right holder. There is no reference to goods put on the market in
another country on the basis of a compulsory license.
360 See, for example, India’s Patents Amendment Act (2005), No. 15 OF 2005, Section 58, introducing the
following amendment:


“In section 107A of the principal Act,—


(b) in clause (b), for the words “who is duly authorised by the patentee to sell or distribute the
product”, the words “who is duly authorised under the law to produce and sell or distribute the
product” shall be substituted.” (emphasis added).


See also comparable legislation in Kenya (Section 37 of the Industrial Property Regulation 2002); Lao PDR
(Article 100 of the Decree Of the President Lao People’s Democratic Republic On the Promulgation of the
Intellectual Property Law); Viet Nam (Article 125.2/b, Law on Intellectual Property, No. 50/2005/QH11); and
Tanzania-Zanzibar (Section 12 (4)(a) (i), Act No. 4 of 2008).
361 Under the international exhaustion doctrine, the first sale of a product abroad will only exhaust the domestic
patent if the respective product is protected by a corresponding patent in the country of first sale. Otherwise, the
patent holder enjoys no exclusivity in the country of first sale, thus the first marketing there cannot be treated as




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exhaustion to the domestic market and first sales outside the country for which the patent has
been granted will not affect the existence of the domestic patent. Finally, the concept of
“regional exhaustion” as practiced in the EU provides that first sales of the patented product
in any EU member State will exhaust a national patent; first sales outside the EU will not.

Thus, parallel imports are only possible if the patentee’s use and sales rights are exhausted in
the country destined for importation. In the pharmaceutical context, where price differences
between countries may be considerable, parallel imports constitute an important means to
provide access to low-priced medicaments by developing countries. In addition, they may
provide an important source of affordable pharmaceutical substances needed by generic
manufacturers for their own production. For example, the exhaustion of patents rights in
active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) will enable local manufacturers to use these APIs in
the production of pharmaceutical end products.362 This being said, producers using APIs to
copy existing products still need to avoid infringements of any separate patents existing on the
finished product, despite the exhaustion of the patent on the APIs.

It has been argued that the authorization of parallel imports would discourage patent holders
from selling their products at lower prices in developing countries, for fear of importation of
such products into developed country markets. However, this can be avoided by the adoption
in developed countries of a regime of regional or national patent and trademark exhaustion,
thus providing the patent holder the right to prevent cheap imports from developing countries.
Most developed countries have such mechanisms in place.

It is true that the existence of parallel imports among developing countries may encourage
patent holders to phase out differential pricing and instead resort to uniformly high prices for
the entire developing country market, thus limiting drugs affordability to the affluent parts of
these countries’ populations. The objective would be to prevent parallel imports to developed
countries, where such imports would prevent the patent holders from reaping their main
benefits. While the legal assessment of such behaviour would to a great extent depend on the
merits of the individual case, a July 2010 judgment by the European General Court (EGC)363
put severe limitations on market-dominant companies in the use of their dominant position to
curtail parallel imports.364 The judgment, which is explained in Section 3.4 (Control of patent

equivalent to the first sale on the domestic market. Note that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has admitted
parallel imports within EU member States even where the product at issue was not patented in the (EU) country
of first sale. See joint cases C-267/95 and C-268/95 Merck & Co Inc. and others v Primecrown Ltd. and others
and Beecham Group plc. v Europharm of Worthing Ltd. of 5 December 1996. The rationale for this approach,
which deviates from classical patent law, has been the overall importance attached by the ECJ to the principle of
free circulation of goods in a common market. The same could apply to some developing country regional
agreements, such as, for instance, the East African Community (EAC), which is scheduled to form a common
market as of 2010. See UNCTAD, “Comparative Study of Provisions of EAC Partner States’ Patent Laws
Reflecting TRIPS Flexibilities Relevant for the Access to Medicines”, Geneva, 2008 (on file with the authors).
The study was prepared for Germany’s technical cooperation agency GTZ, upon request from the Secretariat of
the EAC.
362 Note that patent exhaustion in this case would not enable the local producer to start making its own APIs as a
copy of the imported API, because the exclusive right of “making” (see Article 28.1(a), TRIPS Agreement) is
not affected by exhaustion. By contrast, the imported APIs as such may be used in the pharmaceutical production
process.
363 Until the entry into force of the EU’s Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, this court was known as “Court
of First Instance”.
364See EGC, Case T-321/05 of 1 July 2010, AstraZeneca v. European Commission (available at
http://curia.europa.eu/jurisp/cgi-
bin/form.pl?lang=en&Submit=Rechercher&alldocs=alldocs&docj=docj&docop=docop&docor=docor&docjo=d
ocjo&numaff=T-321/05&datefs=&datefe=&nomusuel=&domaine=&mots=&resmax=100).




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abuse and anti-competitive licensing practices) below, makes clear that dominant companies,
while they cannot be expected to protect the interests of their competitors, must nevertheless
base their actions on legitimate interests and competition “on the merits”.365 The sole purpose
of limiting competition through the exclusion of parallel imports may constitute an abuse of
dominance under European law. There should be a legitimate reason for any activity of a
dominant market player, such as the wish to increase the competitiveness of its own product
(rather than reducing the competitiveness of others’ products).

Another argument advanced against the use of parallel imports has been that parallel trade
will deprive needy patients in the low-price country of essential medicines.366 However, there
do not seem to be any reasons why the patent holder could not simply replenish the market of
the low-price country by delivering greater quantities of her/his products, unless there is an
exceptionally difficult infrastructure. Another point of criticism is that parallel traders would
pocket the majority of the price difference rather than offering genuinely lower prices to
patients.367 The risk of such practice is reduced by the number of parallel traders competing in
the market. The higher their number, the lower is the probability that parallel importers will
pocket the bulk of the price difference, as such practice undermines the very basis of their
competitiveness in the high-price market.

The most serious problem linked to the authorization of parallel imports is that it may open up
ways for abuse. Channels of delivery that are not sufficiently supervised by the patent holder
may be used not only for the delivery of high quality originator drugs, but also for counterfeit
products to reach the target country’s patients. This is particularly problematic for many
developing countries where there are sizeable informal markets for pharmaceuticals. Seeking
to monitor the quality of incoming parallel trade may strain the capacities of authorities in
developing countries and particular in LDCs.368 The question arises to what extent these
potential abuses outweigh the potential benefits generated by parallel imports in terms of
medicines availability. There is no general answer, as the result of this cost-benefit analysis
depends on the gravity of the counterfeit problem in a given country and the country’s ability
to monitor the quality of imported drugs. In addition, developing countries and LDCs should
make effective use of technical assistance programs to fight counterfeit drugs.

Considering the downward effect of parallel imports on drugs prices, the London-based,
independent Commission on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR Commission) in its 2002 report
recommended that developing countries seeking to promote access to medicines “should aim
to facilitate parallel imports in their legislation.”369 The Commission also recommended that
“developed countries should maintain and strengthen their legislative regimes to prevent
imports of low priced pharmaceutical products originating from developing countries.”370
Similar recommendations with respect to the treatment of parallel imports in developed and
developing countries were subsequently adopted in the 2006 CIPIH Report.371 Under Article 6
of the TRIPS Agreement and Paragraph 5 (d) of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS



365 See Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, “AstraZeneca: the EU General Court extends categories of abuse”,
Briefing, July 2010 (available at http://www.freshfields.com/publications/pdfs/2010/July10/28415.pdf).
366 See Noehrenberg, pp. 181-182.
367 Ibid, p. 181.
368 Noehrenberg, p. 181, referring to an October 1997 letter from the Director of the Kenyan National Quality
Control Laboratory to the Director of the South African Medicines Control Council.
369 See Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, p. 42.
370 Ibid, p. 41.
371 CIPIH Report, p. 124, paragraph 4.19.




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Agreement and Public Health, WTO members are free to admit or to prohibit parallel imports
in their domestic legislation, subject to non-discriminatory treatment.372

Even where parallel imports are authorized, patent holders may still seek to prevent them
through contractual obligations. For example, patent holder A authorizes his distributor B to
sell the patented product only to authorized retailers/pharmacies in B’s home country and not
to sell the product to parallel trader C. Such contractual limitations of parallel importations
have been expressly referred to in Free Trade Agreements, such as the United States FTAs
with Australia and Morocco, respectively.


3.2.2 Policy options


The TRIPS Agreement contains no binding definition of parallel imports/exhaustion. A WTO
member government is free to allow or disallow parallel imports, taking into account the
following:


 Parallel imports may contribute to the availability of affordable end products as well
as pharmaceutical ingredients, such as APIs, which local producers may need in their
production process. Producers using APIs to copy existing products still need to avoid
infringements of any separate patents existing on the finished product, despite the
exhaustion of the patent on the APIs.


 In order to enable parallel imports, Governments may provide that the rights under the
patent shall not extend to articles put on the market anywhere in the world with the
consent of the patent holder.


 Countries seeking to promote parallel imports through systems of international or
regional exhaustion of patent rights need to be aware of some potential non-patent
issues that could affect the effectiveness of their legislation. In particular, it may be
advisable to also design a regime of international or regional trademark exhaustion.
Otherwise, imports of a drug in which the domestic patent distribution rights have
been exhausted might still be rejected at the border for lack of trademark exhaustion
(where only national exhaustion is provided for). To avoid such problems, the
importer may obviously repackage the imports, and possibly even use his own brand
to indicate the importer.373 But the economic feasibility of such strategy will depend
on the awareness among consumers that the new package actually contains originator
drugs at the usual quality, which are being distributed by a competitor.


 Countries authorizing parallel imports need to be aware of the potential difficulties in
differentiating high quality parallel imports from counterfeit drugs. Customs
authorities need to have the capacity to detect counterfeit products and prevent their
marketing.


 Finally, governments need to be aware that the parallel importation of affordable
finished pharmaceutical products may undercut efforts to promote local producers, to
the extent that the latter cannot afford production at competitive prices. Governments
should carefully consult with stakeholders to examine possibilities, through tariff
measures, to lower the costs of imported raw materials and APIs used by local
producers.



372 For further discussion, see UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, pp. 92 ff.
373 A trademark gives its holder the right to prevent the use by a competitor of identical or similar signs, but may
not prevent the competitor from using his own distinct trademark. See Article 16.1 of the TRIPS Agreement.




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3.3 Compulsory licenses, including government use


3.3.1 Background


The term “non-voluntary,” or “compulsory” licensing refers to the practice by a government
to authorize itself or third parties to use the subject matter of a patent without the
authorization of the right holder for reasons of public policy. In other words, the patentee is
forced to tolerate, against his/her will, the exploitation of his/her invention by a third person
or by the government itself. In these cases, the public interest in broader access to the patented
invention is considered more important than the private interest of the right holder to fully
exploit his/her exclusive rights.374 Compulsory licensing is addressed under Articles 31 and
draft 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement.

Existing WTO jurisprudence suggests that when tensions arise between the members’ efforts
to provide domestic public goods, such as the need to maintain an adequate public health
system, and the private rights of patentees, members should look to both the codified
exceptions to those rights under TRIPS Article 30 and to the broad possibilities for imposing
compulsory licenses under TRIPS Articles 31 and 31bis, before invoking still untested claims
for waivers under Articles 7 and 8.1.375 In addition, Articles 8.2 and 40.2 of the TRIPS
Agreement leave WTO members broad latitude to regulate the interface between their
domestic competition laws and international standards of intellectual property protection.376

This framework means that policymakers responsible for the provision of such essential
public goods as education, public health, the environment, competition, and scientific research
need to understand the full range of options available under Articles 31 and draft 31bis of the
TRIPS Agreement.377 These provisions regulate the grounds for, and conditions of, imposing
compulsory licenses on patented products and processes.378


Long before the negotiation of the TRIPS Agreement, State practice developed at least six
prototypical types of compulsory licenses that are widely recognized around the world in one
form or another, and they are all fully consistent with Articles 31 and draft 31bis of the TRIPS
Agreement. They are:


1. Compulsory licenses imposed to rectify violations of competition law (antitrust law).
2. Compulsory licenses imposed to rectify abuses of the patentee’s exclusive rights,
which may or may not rise to the level of antitrust violations.



374 J.H. Reichman with C.H. Hasenzahl, “Nonvoluntary Licensing of Patented Inventions: Historical Perspective,
Legal Framework Under TRIPS and an Overview of the Practice in Canada and the United States of America”,
UNCTAD-ICTSD Issue Paper No. 5, Geneva 2003, p. 1. [hereinafter Reichman/Hasenzahl, Overview].
375 See e.g., Canada - Patent Protection of Pharmaceutical Products, Report of the Panel.
376 See generally K.E. Maskus and J.H. Reichman (editors), “International Public Goods and Transfer of
Technology Under a Globalized Intellectual Property Regime”, Cambridge University Press, 2005, and in
particular chapters by Drexl, Ullrich, Fox, Fink, Janis, and Ghosh on “The Role of Competition Law”.
377 See generally K.E. Maskus and J.H. Reichman, “The Globalization of Private Knowledge Goods and the
Privatization of Global Public Goods”, in International Public Goods and Transfer of Technology Under a
Globalized Intellectual Property Regime, pp. 3-45.
378 See generally Reichman/Hasenzahl, Overview; “Nonvoluntary Licensing of Patented Inventions: The
Canadian Experience”, UNCTAD-ICTSD Regional Research Agenda, Geneva, 2002 [hereinafter
Reichman/Hasenzahl, Canadian Experience]
(available at www.iprsonline.org/unctadictsd/docs/reichman_hasenzahl_Canada.pdf).




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3. Compulsory licenses issued in the public interest, to address environmental, public
health, national security or economic development concerns by promoting third-party
production of the patented products at lower prices and/or greater quantities than are
otherwise available.


4. Compulsory licenses issued on behalf of owners of dependent patents, that is, to
allow holders of improvement patents to make use of dominant patents that would
otherwise block technical progress.


5. Compulsory licenses imposed by governments to permit them and their contractors
to make non-commercial public use of the patents without the consent of the rights
holders (government use).
6. A new compulsory license for the exportation of pharmaceutical products to
countries that lack the capacity to manufacture needed drugs under their own
compulsory licenses (draft Article 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement).379



Sometimes these rationales are combined in a single statutory formula, as for example, when
a country combines the public interest rationale with abusive conduct as grounds for a
compulsory license.380

The six types of compulsory licenses listed above represent current State practice, but
constitute by no means an exhaustive list of substantive grounds upon which members may
base a decision to grant a compulsory license. Members are in principle free under the TRIPS
Agreement to issue a compulsory license on grounds not included in the above categories. In
this context, the question has arisen whether under the TRIPS Agreement, a member may
grant a compulsory license in cases where the patent holder fails to work the patent in the
territory of the country for which the patent is granted, but chooses to supply the local market
through imports (“local working requirement”). This issue is controversial. 381 The Paris
Convention in Article 5A(2) authorizes countries of the Union to provide for compulsory
licenses in case of failure by the patentee to work the patent (e.g. to produce medicines locally,
rather than importing them 382 ). The question at issue is whether the non-discrimination
requirement under Article 27.1, TRIPS Agreement was intended to supersede the
authorization of local working requirements under Article 5A(2) of the Paris Convention.383
The negotiating history of the TRIPS Agreement indicates that countries participating in the



379 See J.H. Reichman, “Compulsory Licensing of Patented Inventions: Comparing United States Law and
Practice with Options under the TRIPS Agreement”, paper presented to the American Association of Law
Schools Mid-Year Workshop on Intellectual Property, Vancouver, Canada, June 14, 2006.
380 See e.g., Reichman/Hasenzahl, Canadian Experience.
381 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, pp. 480-482. For an overview of the literature, see M. Halewood,
“Regulating Patent Holders: Local Working Requirements and Compulsory Licences at International Law”,
Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 35, No. 2, 1997, pp. 243-287 [hereinafter Halewood], p. 250, fn. 9. The basic
argument against the TRIPS-conformity of local working requirements is that such requirement would
discriminate against patent holders who choose to supply the local market through importation of the patented
product, rather than local production, in alleged contradiction of the non-discrimination requirement in Article
27.1, TRIPS Agreement.
382 See G.H.C. Bodenhausen, “Guide to the Application of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial
Property”, United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property, Geneva, 1968 [hereinafter
Bodenhausen], p.71: “Normally, working a patent will be understood to mean working it industrially, namely, by
manufacture of the patented product, or industrial application of a patented process. Thus, importation or sale of
the patented article, or of the article manufactured by a patented process, will not normally be regarded as
‘working’ the patent.”
383 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 482.




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Uruguay Round negotiations did not agree on this issue.384 By contrast, the history of patent
law reveals that patents were traditionally seen as a vehicle to promote a country’s domestic
industries.385 The exclusion of a local working requirement through the TRIPS Article 27.1
non-discrimination requirement has been criticized in the literature as reversing this patent
objective, resulting in the protection of foreign assets at the cost of domestic technological
development.386 In addition, it has been pointed out that Article 2.1, TRIPS Agreement,
obligates members to comply with the substantive provisions of the Paris Convention, inter
alia its Article 5A(2), which qualifies failure to work a patented invention as a way of IP
abuse, which in turn may be addressed through appropriate measures under Article 8.2,
TRIPS Agreement.387 While such measures must not be in contradiction with the TRIPS
Article 27.1 non-discrimination requirement, the use of a local working requirement to ensure
the production of affordable medicines does not appear to be based on an improper purpose as
implied by the term “discrimination”. Where local production of a patented drug promises to
be cheaper than importation (at least in the medium term), thus enhancing the population’s
access to that drug, it would seem inappropriate to consider the different treatment of imports
and locally produced drugs as “discrimination” within the meaning of TRIPS Article 27.1.
Different treatment of importing patent holders on the one hand and locally producing ones on
the other hand seems justified for bona fide purposes.388

It needs to be highlighted that the above arguments have not as yet been tested before a WTO
panel.389 The United States in 2000 initiated WTO dispute settlement proceedings against
Brazil on the basis of the latter’s domestic industrial property law, which subjects patents to
compulsory licensing if the patented invention is not manufactured locally, but imported. But
the United States later withdrew the complaint, agreeing with Brazil on bilateral consultations
in case the Brazilian Government intends to invoke the local working ground against a United
States patent holder. 390 Thus, countries that are decided to introduce a local working
requirement need to be aware of the risk of facing WTO dispute settlement proceedings for
alleged infringement of Article 27.1, TRIPS Agreement, despite the fact that a number of
solid arguments seem to support the legality of such a requirement for public health purposes.

Members’ freedom to determine the grounds upon which compulsory licenses may be granted
has been reiterated in the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, which states in its
paragraph 5 (b) that



384 Ibid, pp. 464-465.
385 See Halewood, p. 260; UNCTAD-ICTSD Policy Discussion Paper, pp. 33-34.
386 Halewood, ibid.
387 Ibid, p. 257.
388 For this line of argumentation, see UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 481, referring to a WTO panel
according to which “discrimination” is a “normative term, pejorative in connotation, referring to results of the
unjustified imposition of differentially disadvantageous treatment” (Canada - Patent Protection of
Pharmaceutical Products, WT/DS114/R, Report of the Panel of 17 March 2000, para. 7.94). This definition does
not apply to measures taken to promote access to life-saving medicines. Some of the stakeholders present at the
UNCTAD peer review meeting did not agree with this interpretation of Article 27, TRIPS Agreement, referring
to the proviso in Article 27 that there should be no discrimination as to whether products are imported or locally
produced. However, Article 27 does not contain a positive obligation to treat imports and local products equally;
it merely stipulates a negative obligation to abstain from discriminating between local products and imports. To
the extent that a state intervention is non-discriminatory (e.g. where justified through bona fide purposes), it may
well apply different treatments to local products on the one hand and imports on the other.
389 The Canada - Patent Protection of Pharmaceutical Products Panel did not specify what it meant by “bona
fide” purposes.
390 For details, see UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, pp. 481-482.




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“Each member has the right to grant compulsory licences and the freedom to determine
the grounds upon which such licences are granted.”


Rather than imposing substantive limitations, Article 31 sets up procedural requirements that
members need to follow when issuing a compulsory license. In general, all compulsory
licenses are subject to the same procedural requirements (see Section 3.3.2 for details).
However, these requirements may be relaxed for the following types of compulsory license as
mentioned by the TRIPS Agreement:


 Compulsory licenses used to rectify violations of competition law;
 Compulsory licenses addressing cases of national emergency;
 Compulsory licenses addressing other cases of extreme urgency; and
 Compulsory licenses issued for public non-commercial use.



The following should be noted in this context:


 Compulsory licensing to remedy abuses of patent rights or competition law violations
is subject to a number of procedural and administrative requirements that require time
and effort, but such licenses are then exempt from other restrictions under Article 31,
TRIPS Agreement, such as a duty to negotiate with the patentee, and may result in
little or no compensation for the patentee.391



 Cases of public non-commercial use are also referred to as “government use” licenses,


a term which is not expressly used under Article 31 of the TRIPS Agreement.392 In the
case of a government use license, the licensee may be a government agency or a
private contractor acting for or on behalf of the government.393 By contrast, in other
cases, which may include licenses issued to promote the public interest, the
compulsory licensee is an independent party acting on his/her own behalf and on
his/her own account.



o For example, if a government intends to increase the availability of otherwise


unaffordable medicines, it may choose to invoke the public interest of health to
justify the grant of a compulsory license to a private party manufacturing the
needed drugs on his/her own behalf and for his/her own account and benefit, at
the royalty rate agreed in the license. This would be an “ordinary” compulsory
license issued to an independent private party in the public interest. The
government may alternatively choose to hire a private contractor who will
produce the drugs for the government’s own public health programme. This
would constitute a government use license issued to a contractor who acts for
or on behalf of the government, thus relaxing the requirements for the granting
of the license (Article 31 (b) of the TRIPS Agreement). For example, in
October 2009, the President of Ecuador issued a decree declaring access to
priority medicines to constitute a matter of public interest.394 This declaration
under Decision 486 of the Andean Community opens up the possibility for the
government to issue compulsory licenses on certain medicines, on a case-by-
case basis, and against the payment of royalties to the patent holder. At the
time of writing, the Government of Ecuador had not yet specified the nature of
the envisaged licenses (i.e. on public interest grounds or for government use).



391 TRIPS, Article 31 (k).
392 For details, see below Section 3.3.2.
393 UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 471.
394 See Ecuador Decree No. 118 of 23 October 2009 (available at: http://www.sigob.gov.ec/decretos/ ).




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o Under a government use license, the private contractor working for the
government is not precluded from making a profit.395


o The reason for these relaxed requirements may be explained by the rationale
behind the concept of government use licenses: the sovereign power inherent
in every nation state, represented by the government of that state, may not be
blocked in its own activities by private property rights. This being said, the
TRIPS Agreement obligates members to make available to the aggrieved
patent holder remedies to challenge the validity of the decision to grant a
compulsory license, including government use licenses, and an obligation to
provide adequate remuneration for the use of the patent (for details, see
Sections 3.3.2.7 and 3.3.2.8).



Recourse to compulsory licensing typically occurs when governments perceive that patent
holders have not satisfied the market demand for a given product by supplying sufficient
quantities at prices that broad sectors of the public can afford. Remedying such problems can
be seen as meeting both public interest goals and problems of abuse, both of which derive
their roots from Article 5A of the Paris Convention, as incorporated into TRIPS.396 In this
connection, a respected commentator on Article 5A, Paris Convention has observed that,
besides a failure to work the patented invention, member States are free to issue a compulsory
license “in other cases where the public interest is deemed to require such measures”, such as
public health.397 Other examples of abuses recognized by state practice “may exist in cases
where the owner of the patent […] refuses to grant licenses on reasonable terms and thereby
hampers industrial development, or does not supply the national market with sufficient
quantities of the patented product, or demands excessive prices for such products, the member
State [of the Paris Convention] are free to define these, and other, abuses.”398 Finally, another
ground for abuse that has recently been used to trigger compulsory licensing is a patentee’s
refusal to deal.399

It bears emphasizing that in most cases the mere threat of a compulsory license when backed
up with political will and the capacity to procure the drugs in question through alternative
means, often suffices to persuade patentees to negotiate a significant price reduction.400 In that
event, the outcome may be characterized as a semi-voluntary form of price discrimination or
as a form of price control, rather than a case of compulsory licensing as such. The Brazilian
experience in this regard may prove instructive for other developing countries, in that – until
recently – the Government managed to obtain favourable terms without imposing such a
license.401

At the same time, however, the Brazilian Government has shown that in case it deems the
mere threat of a compulsory license as insufficient to meet public health objectives, it is ready



395 For details, see below Section 3.3.2.
396 Bodenhausen, pp. 67-73 TRIPS Article 2.1.
397 Ibid, p. 70.
398 Bodenhausen, p. 71 (italics provided).
399 See below, Section 3.4.2.3.
400 See Reichman/Hasenzahl, Overview.
401 See, for instance, A. Jack, “France healthcare: Cut-price HIV drugs drive may spur patents clash”, The
Financial Times (online edition) 11 August 2006 (available at:
http://www.eiu.com/index.asp?layout=ib3Article&article_id=200927405&country_id=1350000135&pubtypeid=
1152462500&industry_id=620001062&category_id=&rf=0), referring to a 2005 agreement between the
Brazilian Government and Abbott Laboratories to provide the second-line AIDS therapy Kaletra at a lower price
than the company had originally planned.




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to actually issue a compulsory license, as was done in April 2007 with respect to Merck’s
HIV drug Efavirenz. The Government justified the compulsory license with Merck’s refusal
after negotiations to lower the price for Efavirenz from $1.57 per patient to 65 cents, the price
at which it sells the same drug in Thailand. 402 This was the first time the Brazilian
Government actually issued a compulsory license for a patented pharmaceutical product.

One should note that developed countries have made and continue to make extensive use of
compulsory licenses to regulate competition, ensure affordable prices, and promote an array
of national interests, including security interests. Some developed countries, such as Canada,
used systematic grants of compulsory licenses in the past to promote the establishment of a
national generic pharmaceutical industry,403 although the TRIPS Agreement and regional
trade agreements have now made such a broad brush approach difficult if not impossible.
France has adopted proceedings for expedited compulsory licensing to export patented
pharmaceuticals in case of need.404 The Italian Competition Authority between 2005 and 2007
issued three compulsory licenses on patented pharmaceutical products.405 Finally, the United
States continues to make extensive use of such licenses, particularly for governmental uses of
patented inventions.406

From a developing country perspective, compulsory licenses may become an important
instrument both to promote the wider availability of medicines at affordable prices and to
promote the establishment of a generic pharmaceutical industry. One way of using this
instrument is to combine procurement activities and/or compulsory licenses of several
importing countries for the same essential medicines to create promising opportunities to
achieve economies of scale, which is facilitated for LDC-dominated regional trade
agreements under draft Article 31bis, TRIPS Agreement. This may be of interest to foreign
generic suppliers and even to patent holders willing to cooperate with regional agencies in
return for reasonable royalties and assured market share.407

402 A. Jack and R. Lapper, “Brazil Spurns Patent on HIV Drug”, The Financial Times (online edition), 5 May
2007 (available at: http://lists.essential.org/pipermail/ip-health/2007-May/011120.html).
See also Abbott/Reichman.
403 Canada changed its policy after the entry into force of the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA)
and the TRIPS Agreement. For details, see Reichman/Hasenzahl, Canadian Experience.
404 The French Parliament has approved the implementation of EC Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of
IP rights. Through this implementation, the mechanism of export compulsory licenses defined by EC Regulation
816/2006 has been introduced in the French IP code. This Regulation concerns the exportation of pharmaceutical
products to third countries. Apart from this new compulsory license for export purposes, French law provides for
two other types of compulsory license that limit distribution of products to the domestic market, see Article
L613-16, Loi no. 2004-800 du 6 août 2004 art. 18 Journal Officiel du 7 août 2004.
405 See the respective press releases available at http://www.cptech.org/ip/health/c/italy/, and IP Health
Newsletter of 31 March 2007, Vol. 1, No. 2300, Messages 4, 6 and 7. In 2005, the Italian Competition Authority
obliged Merck, by way of an injunction, to grant licenses for the manufacture of the active ingredient Imipenem
Cilastatina (used in treatment of serious hospital infections). The Authority considered the patentee’s refusal to
grant a license to an Italian domestic producer as an abuse of the patentee’s dominant position, because it would
delay the market entry of Italian generic producers in other EU members States, where the patent on Imipenem
Cilastatina had already expired. In 2006, the Authority granted a compulsory license for the production of an
active ingredient Sumatriptan Succinate (used to treat migraine headaches), considering as abusive the patentee’s
refusal to grant a license to a domestic producer for the manufacture in Italy of Sumatriptan Succinate. Finally,
in 2007, the Authority accepted and rendered mandatory a commitment offered by Merck to grant free licenses
for the manufacture and sale in Italy of the active ingredient Finasteride (used in the treatment of hypertrophy of
the prostate). The Authority had considered Merck’s original refusal to grant licenses as an abuse of a dominant
position. By presenting the above commitment, Merck avoided the imposition of a penalty.
406 See generally Reichman/Hasenzahl, United States Experience.
407 For details, see J.H. Reichman, “Procuring Essential Medicines Under the Amended TRIPS Provisions: The
Prospects for Regional Pharmaceutical Supply Centers”, paper presented to the Seminar on Intellectual Property




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Key stakeholders in the public health debate, including the European Parliament,408 stressed
the importance of improved implementation of TRIPS flexibilities in respect of compulsory
licensing.409 In addition, the difficulties of those WTO members with insufficient domestic
pharmaceutical manufacturing capacities to make effective use of compulsory licenses or
government use licenses in the past were addressed by a Decision of the WTO General
Council in 2003,410 on the basis of which the same body, in 2005, agreed to a formal
amendment to the TRIPS Agreement.411 This decision has to be ratified by at least two thirds
of WTO’s 153 members to make it a permanent amendment of the TRIPS Agreement,
replacing the Paragraph 6 Decision.412 The implications of these decisions are addressed in
Section 3.3.2.6.

If the legal constraints and obligations under Articles 31 and draft 31bis of the TRIPS
Agreement pose no serious obstacles to a government determined to impose a compulsory
license on a patented medicine, a potentially far more serious practical limitation could be the
fact that the R&D-based pharmaceutical industry in developed countries reportedly relies
increasingly on key active ingredients that are produced under outsourcing contracts in
developing countries such as China and India. To that extent, the availability of comparable
active ingredients may paradoxically be artificially limited, because the potential supplier
countries could be unwilling to undermine their profitable relations with the R&D-based
pharmaceutical companies, and no other sources of key active ingredients may possess the
technical skills and abilities to produce them. At least one practitioner believes this



Arrangements: Implications for Developing Country Productive Capabilities in the Supply of Essential
Medicines, UNCTAD, Geneva, 18 Oct. 2006 [hereinafter Reichman, UNCTAD paper].
408 The European Parliament, in a resolution, encouraged developing countries to use all TRIPS flexibilities,
especially referring to compulsory licenses (see No. 8 and 9 of the Resolution P6_TA-PROV (2007) 0353 of 12
July 2007).
409 See, for example, A. Jack, “WHO urges poor nations to push for cheaper Aids drugs”, The Financial Times
(online edition), 16 August 2006, referring to a top WHO official addressing the August 2006 International Aids
Conference at Toronto. Also, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy in a keynote speech to the 23rd Assembly of
the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) on 11 October 2006
said: “… Together with the new WTO provision on access to medicine allowing for compulsory licenses by
poor countries that do not have any manufacturing facilities, these initiatives i.e. to waive import duty tariffs on
pharmaceutical products can make an important difference in saving people’s life or in ensuring that more
people can afford minimum medical treatment. ….”
410 “Implementation of Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health”,
Decision of 30 August 2003, General Council, WT/L/540 of 2 September 2003 hereinafter Paragraph 6
Decision. This Decision was based on Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and
Public Health, which refers to the difficulties of those WTO members with insufficient domestic pharmaceutical
manufacturing capacities to make effective use of compulsory licensing.
411 “Amendment of the TRIPS Agreement”, Decision of 6 December 2005, General Council, WT/L/641 of 8
December 2005 hereinafter TRIPS Amendment Decision. Until the entry into force of the amendment, the
Paragraph 6 Decision will remain a valid legal basis for the facilitated export of drugs to countries in need. It is
important to note that from a substantive point of view, the Paragraph 6 Decision and the TRIPS Amendment
Decision are essentially the same.
412 WTO members at the TRIPS Council meeting of October 2009 extended the deadline for such ratification
until December 2011. For each of the remaining Members, the Paragraph 6 Decision will continue to apply until
each of those Members ratifies the amendment. For an overview of Members that have so far accepted the
amendment, see http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/amendment_e.htm.




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phenomenon to pose a major impediment to the use of compulsory licenses,413 and more
research into this problem and possible remedies seems advisable.414

This very issue has become particularly relevant since the compulsory licenses issued by
Brazil and Thailand in 2006/07 have elicited threats by the affected pharmaceutical
companies to not register their new products in these countries.415 The impact of such a threat,
if carried out, depends on the ability of the authorities in these countries to obtain either the
original product, or bioequivalent substitutes of the key active ingredients by their own means
or from external sources – such as generic suppliers or a network of universities willing to
collaborate in this area – using the flexibilities of the TRIPS Agreement, including draft
Article 31bis, if necessary and feasible.416 In this context, one can envision circumstances in
which the ultimate costs of obtaining reverse-engineered substitutes for key active ingredients
that meet international quality standards could push up the price to be charged consumers near
to the levels that might have been negotiated with the patent holder. Here once again, as
explained in Section 3.3.3.2, adroit use of pooled compulsory licenses by several cooperating
states might attenuate these problems by fostering a negotiated settlement that satisfies all
stakeholders.417

As to the impact of compulsory licensing, a growing number of developing countries have
joined Brazil in integrating the use or threat of compulsory licensing into their national health
strategies. These countries include Ecuador, Eritrea, Ghana, Indonesia, Malaysia,
Mozambique, South Africa, and Thailand.418 The Government of Thailand has moved with
particular zeal in this direction by issuing a government use compulsory license on a remedy
for heart disease in addition to HIV/AIDS drugs (see box 5).

Box 5: Compulsory licensing in Thailand419

In November 2006 and January 2007, the Thai Government announced that it would issue
three compulsory licenses for the following pharmaceutical products:
- Efavirenz (HIV), patented by Merck;
- Kaletra (HIV), patented by Abbott;



413 See communication from A. Engelberg to J.H. Reichman, 26 October 2006 (on file with the authors).
414 In order to boost the availability of key active ingredients under such a scenario, S. Chaudhuri underlines the
importance of ensuring the presence of sustainable generic production, including inter-generic competition (S.
Chaudhuri, “Comments on the UNCTAD draft Reference Guide”, p. 3; on file with the authors).
415 In early 2007, Abbott Laboratories withdrew applications in Thailand for the registration of a new
formulation of the HIV-fighting drug Kaletra (i.e. a heat-resistant version of that drug); the painkiller Brufen; the
antibiotic Abbotic; the anti-blood clotting medicine Clivarine; the anti-arthritis drug Humira; the anti-high blood
pressure drug Tarka; and the anti-kidney disease drug Zemplar. See A. Ahuja (Associated Press), “Thai Health
Groups Urge Abbott Boycott”, IP health newsletter of 21 March 2007. For a critical assessment of such actions
from a competition law standpoint, see S. Flynn, “Considering Competition Complaints Against Abbott in
Thailand - A Brief Explanation of Potential Legal Arguments”, 23 March 2007 (available at
http://www.wcl.american.edu/faculty/flynn/); and “Thailand’s Lawful Compulsory Licensing and Abbott’s
Anticompetitive Response”, 26 April 2007 [hereinafter Flynn, Thailand’s Lawful Compulsory Licensing]
(available at http://www.wcl.american.edu/faculty/flynn/). In December 2007, the Thai Trade Competition
Commission found that Abbott’s withdrawal of drug registration applications did not constitute a violation of the
Thai Trade Competition Act.
416 See Abbott/Reichman, p. 49, referring to increased difficulties in obtaining the patented ingredients through
reverse engineering due to legal restrictions on national research exemptions in the home countries of potential
foreign suppliers.
417 For details, see Reichman, UNCTAD paper.
418 For a list of countries having issued a compulsory license for public health purposes
419 See, inter alia, ICTSD, BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 11, No. 3, 31 January 2007.




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- Plavix (heart disease), patented by Bristol-Myers Squibb & Sanofi-Aventis.420
The reason for the authorization of these licenses was the Government’s perception that the
respective drugs were not made available at affordable prices by the patent holders.
According to Thai health officials, the grant of the compulsory license on Efavirenz has
resulted in important price decreases for the patented medicine, from 58 baht/month (price of
the patented drug before the compulsory license was granted) to 24 baht/month (price of the
patented drug after the compulsory license was granted). The compulsory license also enabled
the introduction of a generic version of Efavirenz, at only 7.5 baht/month.421 The patent
holders receive a remuneration of 0.5 per cent of the total sales value of the generic copies.

Unlike most other cases, the compulsory license on Plavix covers a non-communicable
disease. Governments have heretofore generally focused on using compulsory licenses to
promote competition and reduced prices for drugs needed to treat epidemics, such as
HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. However, neither the TRIPS Agreement nor the Doha
Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health restrict the use of compulsory licenses to
epidemics.422 The affected pharmaceutical companies criticized the Thai Government for not
respecting the obligation provided under Article 31, TRIPS Agreement to enter into
negotiations for voluntary licenses prior to the issuance of the compulsory licenses. According
to the Thai Government, however, the generic drugs obtained under the licenses are being
used for its non-commercial public health programmes. Under Article 31 (b), TRIPS
Agreement, the prior negotiations requirement may be waived by a member, inter alia, in case
of public non-commercial use. While the Thai Government in January 2008 announced the
granting of another series of compulsory licenses for medicines to treat various forms of
cancer (i.e. Letrozole of Novartis for breast cancer; Docetaxel of Sanofi-Aventis for breast
and lung cancer; Erlotinib of Roche for lung, pancreatic and ovarian cancer; and Imatinib of
Novartis for leukemia),423 it has at the same time indicated its willingness to collaborate with
the pharmaceutical companies, provided the latter lower the prices of a number of the drugs in
question.424 As of December 2008, the compulsory licenses had resulted in price decreases for
patented Docetaxel (400 baht/month after the grant, as compared to 900 baht/month before
the grant) and the availability of a generic version for 37 baht/month, as well as a decrease in
the price for patented Letrozole (from 7 baht/month pre-grant to 2 baht/month post-grant) and
a generic version for 0.1 baht/month.425



420 The text of the licenses may be found at http://www.wcl.american.edu/pijip/thai_comp_licenses.cfm.
421 For these figures, see “Thailand’s Experience with Government-Use Licenses”, presentation by S.
Wibulpolprasert, Senior Advisor on Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, made at the UNCTAD
Symposium on flexibilities in the International Intellectual Property Rules and the Local Production of
Medicines for ASEAN Countries, 16-19 December 2008, Arnoma Hotel, Bangkok (on file with the authors)
[hereinafter Suwit].
422 In particular, the Doha Declaration in its paragraph 1 refers to “public health problems afflicting many
developing and least-developed countries, especially those resulting from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and
other epidemics.” The term “especially” indicates that the scope of diseases covered by the Declaration is not
restricted to epidemics.
423 See “Chaiya gives nod to drug licensing”, online news of the Bangkok Post of 11 March 2008.
424 In the negotiations between the Thai Government and the patentees since late March 2007, the Government
has been asking to lower the prices to a maximum of 5 per cent above the price for the generics (IP health
newsletter of 26 June 2007, Message 1).
425 Suwit.




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After announcing the grant of the compulsory licenses, Thailand was placed on the Office of
the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Priority Watch List, which leaves it subject
to trade reprisals.426

Nevertheless, compulsory licensing represents but one tool among several others for
addressing public health problems. For example, many developed countries rely primarily on
price regulation rather than compulsory licensing to address access to medicines issues.427
There are also proposals to enable governments or other entities to “buy out” foreign rights to
medicines for use in developing countries at prices that would protect all the stakeholders’
interests.428

Clearly, “selected non-voluntary licenses can yield positive results when used to address
emergencies or to remove specific […] supply bottlenecks. They can [also] be used to prod
particular foreign companies into negotiated transactions […] that adequately respect local
needs and conditions.”429 It is finally up to each government to decide on how best to use this
instrument while bearing in mind the need to attract private investments in tropical and other
so-called “neglected” diseases of particular interest to developing countries. In this context,
care must be taken not to ignore the risk premiums that such research-based pharmaceutical
development must recoup in order to remain profitable.430

In short, “more social benefits may accrue, when foreign and local interests bargain around
the TRIPS Agreement to mutually satisfactory, win-win deals” than when either side acts
unilaterally.431 For these and other reasons, it seems advisable for governments to provide for
the possibility of issuing compulsory licenses, but to accompany this option with careful
negotiating strategies, effective pre-grant patent policies and appropriate use of other public-
health related patent exceptions. All of these instruments should be considered of equal
importance, rather than relying exclusively on any one of them.


3.3.2 Technical Legal Infrastructure


3.3.2.1 Grounds for the issuance of a compulsory license


According to the TRIPS Agreement as interpreted by the Doha Declaration, members are free
to determine the substantive grounds for issuing a compulsory license. Hence the prior stated
practice as summarized above should remain fully applicable, with the reservation that the
precise legal status of a compulsory license for local non-working is not altogether certain, as
discussed above.

It is particularly important to emphasize the fact that the right to grant such licenses does not
depend on a state of emergency or other circumstances of urgency. The TRIPS Agreement in



426 For the 2007 USTR Priority Watch List, see http://www.ustr.gov/sites/default/files/2007-301-
PRIORITY%20WATCH%20LIST.pdf.
427 See, e.g., Reichman, UNCTAD paper.
428 See, e.g., Outterson.
429 Reichman/Hasenzahl, Overview, p. 24.
430 See, e.g., A.O. Sykes, “TRIPS, Pharmaceuticals, Developing Countries, and the Doha ‘Solution’”, Chicago
Journal of International Law, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2002, pp. 47 ff.
431 Reichman/Hasenzahl, Overview, p. 24.




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Article 31 does impose minimum standards concerning certain procedures and formal
requirements that a member has to respect when intending to issue a compulsory license.
These rules will be addressed in the course of the following sections.


3.3.2.2 Prior negotiations with the right holder


Under normal circumstances, the TRIPS Agreement requires a member to make the issuance
of a compulsory license dependent on unsuccessful attempts by the applicant for a license to
obtain, within a reasonable period of time, the patent holder’s consent for the use of the
patented invention on reasonable commercial terms and conditions. To define what is
“reasonable” in these respects is up to each member and has to be considered by the authority
granting the compulsory license. In particular:432


 As to reasonable commercial terms and conditions: Questions concerning reasonable
terms and conditions turn in the first instance on the amount of the royalty payable to
the patent holder; but also on an unreasonably short duration of the license terms; non-
disclosure by the patentee of additional technology needed to work the invention;
grant backs; tying arrangements and export restrictions imposed upon the licensee.433



 As to reasonable period of time: For how much the right holder may prolong the


negotiations will depend, inter alia, on the purpose of the licensed activity. In cases
regarding the production of life-saving drugs, negotiations for a voluntary license may
be considered unsuccessful after a shorter period of time than in other cases, such as
the production of items for the tourism sector. In the public health context, a
negotiation period of 90 days has been suggested.434



The requirement of prior negotiations does not apply in the cases of national emergency
(including health emergencies435), other situations of extreme urgency, in the case of public
non-commercial use through government entities (“government use”), and where a
compulsory license is permitted to remedy a practice determined after judicial or
administrative process to be anti-competitive.


 Cases of national emergency are usually declared by the government in an official
communication. This usually provides the government with the power to rule by
decree in areas where it normally depends on parliamentary consent. The reference
under TRIPS to “other situations of extreme urgency” makes clear that in order for the
prior negotiations requirement to be waived, there is no need for a formally declared
state of national emergency. 436 Members are free to provide in their domestic



432 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, pp. 469-470.
433 For details on grant backs and tying arrangements see Section 3.4.
434 See Third World Network, “Manual on Good Practices in Public-Health-Sensitive Policy Measures and
Patent Laws”, Penang, 2003, p. 69 (hereinafter TWN Manual). Some stakeholders at the UNCTAD peer review
meeting did not consider 90 days as being a reasonable period of time.
435 For example, the United States Government in the fall of 2001 considered the production under compulsory
license of the anti-anthrax drug Cipro, on which the German pharmaceutical company Bayer holds a patent.
Bayer and the United States Government quickly came to an agreement enabling the low-cost mass production
of Cipro.
436 For more details, see UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 471.




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legislation that a lack of access to medicines may constitute the basis for a situation of
extreme urgency.437


 In the absence of an emergency or other situation of extreme urgency, a government is
still authorized under the TRIPS Agreement to issue compulsory licenses for public
health purposes to meet any public health need as stated under the Doha Declaration
on TRIPS and Public Health. In short, no state of emergency is ever needed as a
procedural requirement for the issuance of any given compulsory license.438 A state of
emergency constitutes one of the situations that will waive the prior negotiations
requirement.


 Public non-commercial use of a patented invention through government entities
(“government use”) should not be hampered by protracted negotiations with the patent
holder. It has been observed that the terms “public non-commercial use” may be
defined in many ways, providing governments with a “flexible concept” of granting
compulsory licenses without requiring prior commercial negotiations with the patent
holder.439 The term “public” may refer to the use by, for or on behalf of a government,
as opposed to use by an independent private entity. The TRIPS Agreement itself in its
Article 44.2 (for details see Section 3.3.2.8) refers to “use by governments” in the
context of injunctive relief against compulsory licenses for public non-commercial use.
The term “public” may equally refer to the purpose of the use, i.e. use for “public”
benefit. Uses for private benefit, by contrast, are not encompassed by a government
use license; for instance, a license for public, non-commercial use does not limit the
patent holder’s exclusive right to sell his drugs to private pharmacies, as opposed to
his right to sell exclusively to a country’s public health system. “Non-commercial”
may be understood as characterizing the nature of the transaction as “not-for-profit”
use. It may also be interpreted as referring to the purpose of the use, such as the supply
with medicines of public institutions that do not function as commercial enterprises.
Accordingly, the supply of public hospitals operating on a non-profit basis may be
considered “non-commercial” use.440 This may include cases where the entity working
for or on behalf of the government makes a profit. Where this entity is a private
operator, it cannot be expected to carry out its activities without any commercial
benefits. Otherwise, it would appear difficult for the government to identify a producer
that is willing to produce the needed drugs. The right to issue a public non-commercial
use license would thus be rendered useless. What is decisive in this context is not the
(commercial) intermediate activity required to produce the needed drugs, but the non-
commercial end use of that product by the government, e.g. not-for-profit distribution
of medicines through a public health program.441 From that perspective, it does not
make any difference whether the supplier is a private operator or a government-owned
entity involved in the production of generic drugs.


 Importantly, prior negotiations may also be waived where a court or administrative
body considers a practice by the patent holder as being anti-competitive and has
imposed the use of a compulsory license as a remedy. In such a case, moreover, there
may be little or no compensation as a penalty.



437 J. Love, “Four Practical Measures to Enhance Access to Medical Technologies”, in: Negotiating Health, pp.
241-256, p.243.
438 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 471.
439 Ibid.
440 Ibid.
441 See S. Flynn, Thailand’s Lawful Compulsory Licensing, p. 4. Under United States patent law, once the
government duly appoints the contractor as its agent, the contractor is insulated from actions for infringement
and the patentee must apply to the Court of Federal Claims for compensation. See Act of 25 June 1948, ch. 646,
§1, 62 Stat. 941, codified as amended at 28 U.S.C. §1498 (2002).




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3.3.2.3 Granting authority


WTO members are free under the TRIPS Agreement to designate an authority for the granting
of compulsory licenses. This may be the government or one of its agencies. For example,
when Canada allowed licenses of right for the manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, which ended
in 1992, application was made directly to the “Commissioner of Patents”.442

In the case of compulsory licenses granted in the public interest, the interested party has to file
an application for a compulsory license with the designated authority. The authority to issue a
compulsory license may also be conferred upon the courts, after litigation between the patent
holder and the applicant for a license. From a public health perspective, it seems more
appropriate to have a government agency issue the compulsory licenses, as this will save time
and resources and involve experts who are familiar with public health issues (such as, for
instance, a body in the Ministry of Health, or the competition authority in cases of anti-
competitive behaviour).


3.3.2.4 Case-by-case approach


Although members are free to determine the substantive grounds upon which a compulsory
license may be granted, the TRIPS Agreement requires that authorization of a compulsory
license “shall be considered on its individual merits”. This means that:


 Governments may not grant blanket licenses pertaining to types of industries or
enterprises, but must require each individual application to undergo a review process
to determine whether the particular procedural and substantive conditions for a
compulsory license have been met. For example, a member could not just impose a
compulsory license on essential medicines as such, but would have to justify each
license in the set.


 This, however, does not prevent a government from establishing a precondition
enabling the grant of compulsory licenses, which could put a burden on the patent
holder to avoid the pre-established condition. For instance, a member may provide in
its legislation that the lack of affordable medicines on the domestic market justifies the
grant of a compulsory license. The patent holder will then have to demonstrate that a
sufficient amount of supplies at affordable prices is actually available to avoid the
initiation of the granting procedure for a compulsory license.443


 The exact design of the review process is left to a national government’s discretion.


3.3.2.5 Scope and duration of the compulsory license


The TRIPS Agreement provides that the scope and duration of a compulsory license shall be
limited to the purpose for which it was authorized. The license shall in general be non-
assignable, non-exclusive and shall be terminated if and when the circumstances that led to it
cease to exist and are unlikely to recur (Article 31, letters (c) and (g), TRIPS Agreement). In
particular:444

442 See Reichman/Hasenzahl, Canadian Experience, p. 8.
443 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 468.
444 Ibid, pp. 473-475.




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 The fact that the license alone shall be non-assignable does not prevent the licensee
from selling or transferring his/her business together with the license.


 The non-exclusiveness of the license means that the licensee may face competition
from the patent holder and other (voluntary) licensees.


 The limitation in terms of purpose does not prevent the granting authority from issuing
a license of a duration sufficiently long to justify the licensee’s investment in
production from a commercial standpoint. Otherwise, the purpose of Article 31,
TRIPS Agreement, to effectively enable third parties to use the patented substance,
would be frustrated.445 This being said, if during this period the patent holder succeeds
in demonstrating that the circumstances which led to the grant of the compulsory
license have ceased to exist and are unlikely to recur, the compulsory license would
have to be revoked. For example, the initial grant of the license could establish the
minimum term necessary for the licensee to recover his/her costs and earn a
reasonable return, and also provide for automatic extensions of the license. The patent
holder during the minimum term and during the additional period may prove that the
circumstances which led to the grant of the compulsory license have ceased to exist
and are unlikely to recur.


 National rules on compulsory licensing should include a review mechanism, where
both the licensee and the patent holder may submit motivated requests for the (dis-)
continuation of the license.


3.3.2.6 Rights under a compulsory license – Doha developments


The licensee is authorized by the government to use the patented invention without the
authorization of the patent holder. However, as the license is non-exclusive, the compulsory
licensee may face competition in the market from the patent holder and other licensees. This
limitation may dampen the generic suppliers’ interest in the market, unless the economic
prospects are otherwise favourable, as could occur if countries coordinated their procurement
strategies and, where necessary, pooled the relevant compulsory licenses.446

Another important qualification concerns the exportation of products manufactured under
compulsory license: while the patent holder is free to export the entirety of her/his production,
the TRIPS Agreement requires the compulsory licensee to use her/his production
predominantly for the supply of the domestic market (Article 31 (f)). This requirement has
been waived, however, for exports to countries with insufficient pharmaceutical
manufacturing capacities, as these countries would otherwise be unable to make effective use
of compulsory licensing. The waiver, as included in the 2003 WTO Paragraph 6 Decision and
the 2005 TRIPS Amendment Decision (draft Article 31bis), enables a compulsory licensee to
export the entirety of her/his production to a country in need of certain drugs that it cannot
produce itself. In order for this waiver to apply, a particular system has been set up, which
distinguishes between requirements for importing and exporting members, as explained in the
following sections.447 Attached to both the 2003 Paragraph 6 Decision and draft Article 31bis,

445 Ibid, p. 473. Some stakeholders at the UNCTAD peer review meeting expressed the view that the duration of
the compulsory license should not be linked to the commercial interests of the compulsory licensee.
446 For details on such pooled procurement strategies in the context of regional cooperation, see Section 3.3.3.
447 See P. Roffe, C. Spennemann and J. von Braun, “From Paris to Doha: The WTO Doha Declaration on the
TRIPS Agreement and Public Health”, in Negotiating Health, pp. 9-26 (in particular pp. 20-22). See also WHO,
“Implementation of the WTO General Council Decision on Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS
Agreement and Public Health”, by C. Correa, WHO Health Economics and Drugs EDM Series No. 16, Geneva,




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TRIPS Agreement is a note from the Chairman of the Council for TRIPS, which elaborates on
some of the issues contained in the waiver.448

Requirements to be observed by the exporting member


The exporting member has to issue a compulsory license for the pharmaceutical product
needed in the importing country when the pharmaceutical product in question is patented in
the exporting member (see box 8, below, on the compulsory license granted in Canada for the
exportation of medicines to Rwanda). Thus, the system depends on the issuance of two
compulsory licenses, i.e. one each in both the importing and the exporting country, if the
respective drug enjoys patent protection in both countries. Moreover, the laws of both
countries need to establish enabling provisions that fulfil the requirements of the TRIPS
Agreement, in particular draft Article 31bis.

According to that provision, several conditions govern the granting of the compulsory licence
in the exporting member:


 The license must be granted only to produce and export the amount estimated to meet
the needs of the importing member, and the entirety of this production shall be
exported to the country that has notified the Council for TRIPS of its health needs
(Annex to the TRIPS Agreement hereinafter Annex,449 paragraph 2 (b) (i)).


 Products made under the license have to be clearly identified through specific labeling
or marking, and possibly through differentiated packaging and/or special
colouring/shaping (Annex, paragraph 2 (b) (ii)).


 The producer has to post on a website information on the quantities to be supplied to
each destination and the distinguishing features of the product (Annex, paragraph 2 (b)
(iii)).


 Adequate remuneration has to be paid to the patent holder in the exporting country,
taking into consideration the economic value of the license to the importing country.
Where a license is granted for the same products in the importing country, the
obligation of the latter to pay compensation is waived for those products for which
remuneration is paid in the exporting country (draft Article 31bis.2, TRIPS
Agreement). This avoids payment of double compensation to the patent holder.450


 The exporting member must notify the WTO Council for TRIPS of the grant of the
license to meet the needs of the importing country (Annex, paragraph 2 (c)). This
notification should include information concerning the beneficiary licensee, the
products covered by the license, the quantity(ies) for which the license has been
granted, its duration and the name of the beneficiary country(ies). Thus, the drugs
produced under a compulsory license in the exporting country may be exported to
several countries, provided these are all mentioned in the notification. This is an



2004 [hereinafter WHO, Implementation of Paragraph 6]; P. Vandoren and J.C. van Eeckhoutte, “The WTO
Decision on Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health: Making it Work”,
Journal of World Intellectual Property, Vol. 6, Issue 6, 2003, pp. 779 ff.
448 In particular, the statement provides for some best practices developed by companies to prevent the diversion
of products to markets they were not destined for.
449 This Annex is part of the TRIPS Amendment Decision as introduced above (draft Article 31bis). The Annex
contains a number of procedural requirements for the use of the draft Article 31bis system. These requirements
were taken from the Paragraph 6 Decision (see above).
450 For suggested model language for this option to waive remuneration in the importing country, see F. Abbott,
R. Van Puymbroeck, “Compulsory Licensing for Public Health: A Guide and Model Documents for
Implementation of the Doha Declaration Paragraph 6 Decision”. World Bank Working Paper No. 61, World
Bank, Washington, D.C., 2005, pp. 41 ff. See also WHO, Implementation of Paragraph 6.




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important tool for beneficiary importing countries to engage in the pooled purchasing
of drugs, thus creating economies of scale for the producer (i.e. compulsory licensee)
in the exporting country. In this context, it should be noted that pooled drugs
procurement by several developing countries is generally an important means of
attracting pharmaceutical producers’ interest in a regional market, and may, under a
“carrots and sticks” approach, be used by developing country governments to
negotiate favourable schemes of collaboration with the holders of pharmaceutical
patents (see Section 3.3.3).


 Drugs produced under the draft Article 31bis, TRIPS Agreement system may only be
exported to countries mentioned in the notification to the WTO. This follows from
paragraphs 2 (c) and 3 of the Annex. Members wishing to (re-) export the products to
a country not mentioned in the export notification would need to file a new
notification with the WTO, as they would qualify as “exporting member” under
paragraph 2 (c) of the Annex. The objective of this rule is to ensure that the products
imported under the draft Article 31bis, TRIPS Agreement system are used for the
public health purposes underlying their importation, as expressed in paragraph 3 of the
Annex. According to this provision, separate re-exports of products imported under
the system shall be prevented (see below).


 However, the conditions governing the granting of the compulsory license in the
exporting member, as discussed above (paragraphs 2 (b) and (c) of the Annex) are
waived for those exporting developing countries and LDCs that are parties to a
regional trade agreement composed of at least 50 per cent LDC members, provided the
importing developing country or LDC members share the health problem in question
(see draft Article 31 bis.3). While this provision does not state such waiver in express
terms, it may nevertheless be inferred from comparing its language with the language
under draft Article 31bis.1. Draft Article 31 bis.1 waives the obligation of exporting
members under Article 31 (f), TRIPS Agreement, “in accordance with the terms set
out in paragraph 2 of the Annex to this Agreement”.451 Comparable language cannot
be found in the special LDC provision under draft Article 31 bis.3/paragraph 6 of the
30 August Decision. Thus, it may be inferred that exports within an LDC-dominated
trade agreement are not subject to the conditions established under paragraph 2 of the
Annex, in particular the requirement that only the amount necessary to meet the needs
of an eligible importing member may be manufactured under the license (paragraph 2
(b) (i) of the Annex).452 In addition, there is no obligation for a producer exporter
within the LDC region to meet the specific requirements on labeling and web posting.
Finally, exports within LDC-dominated trade agreements do not trigger the export
notification requirement under paragraph 2 (c) of the Annex.


 In the case of importation from outside the LDC-dominated trade agreement, the
conditions for exports under paragraph 2 of the Annex do apply. Also, the facilitated
export possibilities within the trade agreement do not alter the fact that each importing
country needs to issue a compulsory license for the importation of drugs protected by
a national patent. Box 6 provides an example of an LDC-dominated regional trade
agreement and how it could use the new system.






451 Comparable language is employed under paragraph 2 of the 30 August Decision.
452 See also S. Musungu, “The TRIPS Agreement and Public Health”, in Intellectual Property and International
Trade: The TRIPS Agreement, editors C. Correa and A. Yusuf, 2nd edition, The Netherlands, Kluwer Law
International, 2008 [hereinafter Correa/Yusuf], p. 421 ff. (455).




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Box 6: How the East African Community could use the WTO waivers on
compulsory licensing

To illustrate the use of the waiver in an LDC-dominated regional trade agreement,
note that Kenya, for example, would be entitled under the system to re-export drugs
produced under compulsory license and imported from a country such as India to the
other Partner States of the East African Community (EAC),453 even if the compulsory
license issued in India only refers to Kenya as the beneficiary country. The Indian
producer would have to comply with the export conditions under paragraph 2 of the
Annex (regarding the amounts necessary for Kenya and the labeling and web posting
requirements). Local producers in Kenya would also have the right to export the bulk
of their production manufactured under a compulsory license to Burundi, Rwanda, the
United Republic of Tanzania, and to Uganda. As such shipments would only occur
within the regional trade agreement, the export notification requirement would not
apply, nor would the quantitative limitations and the labeling and web posting
requirements (according to the language employed in draft Article 31.3bis, see above).
Finally, the new rule under Article 31bis.3, TRIPS Agreement also means that Kenyan
manufacturers may import APIs under compulsory license, formulate these APIs into
finished pharmaceutical products and then export the resulting products to the other
Partner States of the EAC, without notifying the WTO of such export (provided the
other EAC Partner States share Kenya’s HIV problem).454



 This new arrangement under draft Article 31bis (3) of the TRIPS Agreement could


provide important incentives in terms of economies of scale for both local producers
and foreign pharmaceutical companies and could provide a solid legal basis for
regional procurement efforts.455 In this sense, the new draft Article 31bis.3 of the
TRIPS Agreement expressly refers to “harnessing economies of scale for the purposes
of enhancing purchasing power for, and facilitating the local production of,
pharmaceutical products”. On the other hand, as long as the regional trade group at
issue has not recognized regional patents, each importing country will still have to
issue a national compulsory license for the importation of any drug patented in its
territory. The policy option of regional cooperation in the area of compulsory licensing
is set out further in Section 3.3.3.



Requirements to be observed by the importing member


The importing country has to notify the Council for TRIPS of its intention to use the “system”
(i.e. the waiver) as an importer (Annex, paragraph 1 (b)). This requirement, however, does not
apply to LDCs, which automatically qualify as eligible importing members (ibid). In addition,
the importing country has to make a more specific notification, comprising:


 The specific names and expected quantities of the needed product (Annex, paragraph 2
(a) (i)). (For example, see box 8, below, on the invocation of the system by Rwanda
for the importation of medicines produced under compulsory license in Canada.)



453 As a Customs Union, the EAC also constitutes a free trade agreement within the meaning of draft Article
31bis, TRIPS Agreement. For more details on the EAC Customs Union, see UNCTAD, “An Investment Guide
to the East African Community”, Geneva, July 2005
(available at http://www.unctad.org/en/docs/iteiia20054_en.pdf).
454 See F. Abbott, “The Containment of TRIPS to Promote Public Health: A Commentary on the Decision on
Implementation of Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration”, draft of 2 July 2004, p. 37 (on file with the authors).
455 For more details, see J. Reichman, UNCTAD paper. See also Abbott/Reichman.




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 Confirmation that the importing member in question has established it has insufficient
or no manufacturing capacities in the pharmaceutical sector (except LDCs, which are
deemed to have insufficient manufacturing capacities in the pharmaceutical sector)
(Annex, paragraph 2 (a) (ii)).


 Confirmation that the importing country has granted, or intends to grant a compulsory
license, if the demanded pharmaceutical product enjoys patent protection in its
territory (this requirement does not apply to LDCs taking advantage of the 2016
transition period) (Annex, paragraph 2 (a) (iii)). The purpose of the compulsory
license is to immunize the licensee from patent infringement through acts of, inter alia,
importing, using, and selling the protected product (e.g. in the context of re-
exportation to other countries under a regional trade agreement meeting the conditions
of Article 31bis (3), TRIPS Agreement, as described above).


 The above requirements regarding specific notification (Annex, paragraph 2 (a) (i)-
(iii)) do not apply to those importing members that are parties to an LDC-dominated
trade agreement, to the extent that the imports originate from inside the trade
agreement.456 As explained before, the language under the special LDC provision (i.e.
draft Article 31 bis.3/paragraph 6 of the 30 August Decision) does not refer to the
notification requirements that normally apply to exporting or importing members
under this system.


 In case the imports into the LDC-dominated trade agreement originate from outside
the trade agreement, the special LDC provision (i.e. draft Article 31 bis.3/paragraph 6
of the 30 August Decision) does not apply: the purpose of this provision is to facilitate
trade flows within a region, not to facilitate trade flows into a region.457 Thus, the
import notification requirement under draft Article 31 bis.1 applies, as does the export
notification requirement under the same provision.


 In the LDC-dominated regional trade agreement context, notifications of imports (i.e.
from outside the region) may be submitted jointly by the regional organization on
behalf of eligible importing members using the system that are parties to it, with the
agreement of those parties.458


 Importing countries must also take reasonable measures “within their means,
proportionate to their administrative capacities” to prevent re-exportation of those
products imported into their territories under the system (Annex, paragraph 3).459 The
latter obligation does not apply to members of an LDC-dominated trade agreement, as
the special LDC provision (i.e. draft Article 31 bis.3/paragraph 6 of the 30 August
Decision) expressly authorizes re-exports within an LDC-dominated trade agreement,
thus constituting a lex specialis that takes precedence over the general prohibition of
re-exports.



Finally, the Paragraph 6 Decision/TRIPS Amendment Decision calls on other WTO members
to ensure the availability of effective legal means to prevent the importation and sale in their



456 See draft Article 31 bis.3/paragraph 6 of the 30 August Decision, referring to pharmaceutical products
“produced or imported” in a Member of an LDC-dominated trade agreement.
457 In this respect, the reference under draft Article 31 bis.3/paragraph 6 of the 30 August Decision to “a
pharmaceutical product […] imported under a compulsory license in that member […]” (emphasis added) is
understood as being limited to imports from within the LDC-dominated regional trade agreement. Personal
communication to the authors from staff of the WTO Secretariat, 6 May 2008.
458 See footnote 4 to the draft Annex to the TRIPS Agreement.
459 Developed country members shall provide, on request and on mutually agreed terms and conditions, technical
and financial cooperation in order to facilitate the implementation of this obligation.




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territories of products produced under the waiver mechanism and diverted to their markets
inconsistently with the Decision (Annex, paragraph 4).

Box 7 provides an overview of the system under the TRIPS Agreement for the importation
and exportation of generic products produced under a compulsory license.

Box 7: Comparative legal analysis of exportation/importation of pharmaceutical
products patented in both the exporting and the importing member460


 Situation under Article 31, TRIPS Agreement
o Exporting member: Compulsory license required  up to 49 per cent of


production admitted for export (Article 31 (f)).
o Importing member: Compulsory license also required. Re-exportation: up to


49 per cent of imported medicines  with each re-export, the amount of
exportable products is more than halved.



 Situation under the “System” of draft Article 31bis, TRIPS Agreement


o No LDC trade agreement
 Exporting member:


 Compulsory license required  100 per cent of production
required for export (Article 31bis (1)).


 Notification of export to WTO (Annex, para. 2 (c)): export to
one or several members designated in notification  pooled
procurement potential for beneficiary members. Producer is
subject to limitations in quantity (Annex, para. 2 (b) (i)) and
requirements on labeling (Annex, para. 2 (b) (ii)) and
publishing information (Annex, para. 2 (b) (iii)).



 Importing member:


 Need for import notification to WTO (Annex, para 2 (a))
 Compulsory license required. Covers any third party action such


as importation, use, and sale of product without authorization of
owner of domestic patent.


 But: re-exportation to countries not designated in original
export notification is nevertheless prohibited (Annex, paragraph
3), unless original importing country issues new export
notification to WTO (Annex, para 2 (c))  only designated
importing countries benefit.



o LDC trade agreement


 Exporting member:
 Compulsory license required  100 per cent of production


required for export (Article 31bis (1)).
 If exporting member is outside LDC trade agreement:


Notification of export to WTO (Annex, para. 2 (c)): export to



460 The objective of this comparison is not to present all elements of the draft Article 31bis system, but to
highlight the differences between the general situation under Article 31, the general situation under draft Article
31bis, and the special case of an LDC trade agreement under draft Article 31bis. The particular features of each
situation are highlighted in bold.




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one or several members designated in notification  pooled
procurement potential for beneficiary members. Producer is
subject to limitations in quantity (Annex, para. 2 (b) (i)) and
requirements on labeling (Annex, para. 2 (b) (ii)) and publishing
information (Annex, para. 2 (b) (iii)).


 If exporting member is part of the LDC trade agreement:
Obligation to notify export to WTO does not apply (no
reference to notification requirement in special LDC provision,
draft Article 31bis.3)  Shipment to any of the other trade
agreement members  pooled procurement potential for
beneficiary members. In addition: producer is NOT subject to
limitations in quantity, requirements on labeling, and
publishing information  incentive for regional producers



 Importing member:


 Obligation to notify import to WTO does not apply, to the
extent that imports sourced from within LDC trade agreement
(no reference to notification requirement in special LDC
provision).


 If sourced from outside LDC trade agreement, obligation to
notify does apply. May be made jointly by regional
organization on behalf of member states.


 Re-exports possible to other trade agreements parties sharing
same health problem (special LDC provision authorizes re-
exports, takes precedence over general prohibition of re-
exports); no need to notify WTO of re-exports (see above,
b.i.3.).


 But compulsory license required. Covers any third party action
such as importation, use, and sale of product without
authorization of owner of domestic patent.




Observations:


 Under the draft Article 31bis (3), TRIPS Agreement system (i.e. LDC-dominated trade
agreement), the exporting WTO member may be


o Outside the LDC trade agreement (example: India exports to the United
Republic of Tanzania; the United Republic of Tanzania re-exports to Burundi,
Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda)


o Party to the LDC trade agreement (example: the United Republic of Tanzania
produces itself and exports to Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda)


o A WTO notification of export is only needed for those shipments coming
from outside the LDC trade agreement. Likewise, a WTO notification of
import is only needed to the extent that the shipments come from outside the
LDC trade agreement.


o Conditions regarding necessary amount of production, labeling and web
posting do not apply to producers exporting within the LDC trade
agreement.


 The above analysis is based on the assumption that the exported medicine is patented
in both the exporting and the importing country.




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 If the exported medicine is not patented in the exporting country, there is no need for
the draft Article 31bis system, as there are no patent law-related limitations to the
exportation of the medicine. The importing country will still need to issue a
compulsory license.


 If the exported medicine is not patented in the importing country (or granted patents
are not enforced, following the extension of the LDC transition period, such as in the
case of Rwanda, box 8, below), the draft Article 31bis system is still required (except
the granting of a compulsory license in the importing country), as its main purpose is
to facilitate exports of patented products produced under a compulsory license. The
importing country only needs to notify the WTO (of the names and quantities of the
products needed) if it is not party to an LDC-dominated trade agreement, or if imports
into the region come from outside of that region. It only has to confirm its insufficient
manufacturing capacity for pharmaceuticals if it is no LDC.



Conclusion: the effect of Article 31bis (3), TRIPS Agreement on a regional trade agreement
(RTA) is that:


 Producers within the RTA are not subject to limitations of quantity, labeling and web
posting requirements;


 No additional WTO notification is needed on top of original export notification from
exporting country outside LDC trade agreement;


 No WTO notification at all is needed for exports originating in a member of the LDC
trade agreement destined to other members of this trade agreement;


 No WTO notification at all is needed for imports coming from a member of the LDC
trade agreement;


 The prohibition of re-exports does not apply.

Box 8 provides some background on the first-ever use of the new draft TRIPS Article
31bis/Paragraph 6 system by Canada and Rwanda.

Box 8: Rwanda invokes paragraph 6 system for the importation of a fixed-dose
anti-retroviral drug made by the Canadian pharmaceutical company Apotex Inc.

In July 2007, only one week after the European Parliament delayed its ratification of the
Paragraph 6 Decision,461 the Rwandan Government as the first and only country so far,
notified the WTO to make use of the Paragraph 6 mechanism. Referring to the 2016 transition
period for LDCs, the Government announced that it would no longer enforce patent rights that
could have previously been granted on the triple combined fixed-dose anti-retroviral drug
TriAvir.462 Between September 2008 and September 2009, Rwanda imported 260,000 packs
of TriAvir as manufactured in Canada by Apotex Inc.463 As an LDC, Rwanda did not have to
prove its lack of manufacturing capacity.

The triple combined drug is patented in Canada by Glaxo Group Ltd., Welcome Foundation
Ltd., Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Shire Biochem Inc. Based on a



461 See Resolution P6_TA-PROV (2007) 0353 of 12 July 2007.
462 See “Notification under Paragraph 2(A) of the Decision of 30 August 2003 on the Implementation of
Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health”, WTO document
IP/N/9/RWA/1 of 19 July 2007.
463 See IP Watch, “Last Cheaper AIDS Medicines For Rwanda Under WTO”, online publication of 17
September 2009 (available at: http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2009/09/17/last-cheaper-aids-medicines-for-
rwanda-under-wto/). On the quantity of imported medicines, see WTO document IP/N/9/RWA/1.




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compulsory license, the Canadian manufacturer Apotex was authorized to produce the
medicament and export it to Rwanda under Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR)
implemented in Canadian law in May 2004, and the regulation for the Use of Patented
Product for International Humanitarian Purposes. Under this regime, Apotex could only start
producing upon formal request from a would-be importing country. Furthermore, Apotex was
obliged to negotiate with the patentees voluntary licenses for 30 days.464 As Apotex and the
patentees did not reach voluntary licensing agreements, 465 the Canadian Government became
the first country to notify the WTO of the grant of a compulsory license for the manufacture
of a total of 15.6 million tablets of ApoTriAvir for the export to Rwanda.466 Information on
each shipment, including quantities, was posted on the company’s website.

This first use of the Paragraph 6 system has, however, not been suited to calm down public
criticism of the system as being too burdensome, due to its onerous reporting rules.467. Despite
the fact that Apotex reportedly offered lower prices than its Indian competitors, 468 the
company stated that it would not be ready to use the system again.469 According to the same
sources, Apotex blamed the procedural requirements under the Canadian Paragraph 6
implementation legislation (i.e. CAMR) to represent a major disincentive for developing
countries and generic producers to use the Paragraph 6 system. 470 In response to such
criticism, current efforts to reform CAMR have resulted in a Bill (C-393) before the Canadian
House of Commons. An important question in this context is to what extent the current
requirement, under CAMR, for separate negotiations with the patent owner for each
purchasing country and each order of medicines may be amended and simplified, along the
lines of a “one-license solution”.471


3.3.2.7 Adequate remuneration – models for royalty guidelines


According to the TRIPS Agreement, the patent holder has to be paid “adequate remuneration
in the circumstances of each case, taking into account the economic value of the
authorization”. In particular:


 This obligation applies to both compulsory and government use licenses.



464 For further details on the Canadian law see South Centre/CIEL, “Rwanda and Canada: Leading the
Implementation of the August 2003 Decision for Import/ Export of Pharmaceuticals Produced under Compulsory
License”, Intellectual Property Quarterly Update, Third Quarter 2007, pp. 1 ff. (available at
http://www.ciel.org/Publications/IP_Update_3Q07.pdf).
465 See ibid, p. 6 for details on the negotiations for voluntary licenses.
466 Canada granted authorization to Apotex Inc. on 19 September 2007 to make, construct and use the patented
inventions solely for the purpose directly related to the manufacture of ApoTriAvir and to sell it for export to
Rwanda for a period of two years. See Canada’s notification of the TRIPS Council, IP/N/10/CAN/1 of 5 October
2007 (available at http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news07_e/trips_health_notif_oct07_e.htm).
467 IP Watch, “Global Access To Medicines Not Improved By TRIPS Waiver, Some Say”, online publication, 1
October 2008 (http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2008/10/01/global-access-to-medicines-not-improved-by-trips-
waiver-some-say/), quoting the former MSF Essential Medicine Campaign Canada coordinator as stating that
efforts by MSF to assist developing country governments in the use of the Paragraph 6 system were met by a
widespread lack of interest on behalf of these governments.
468 Ibid.
469 IP Watch, “Last Cheaper AIDS Medicines For Rwanda Under WTO”, online publication, 17 September 2009
(http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2009/09/17/last-cheaper-aids-medicines-for-rwanda-under-wto/).
470 Ibid.
471 Ibid.




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 It does not apply to the importing country under the 2003 WTO Paragraph 6
Decision/the 2005 TRIPS Amendment Decision: the patent holder is only entitled to
remuneration in the exporting country, taking into consideration the economic value of
the license to the importing country.


 Various sources have recommended the establishment of a Compensation Committee
to determine the form and amount of the compensation.472


 Members are free to determine what is adequate. This is to be done on a case-by-case
basis. The following indicators may provide some guidance:


o The patent holder usually does not need to recoup his costs for R&D and other
investments in developing country markets, as these costs are fully recouped in
developed country markets. Looking into the future, however, more medicines
may be developed in both developed and developing countries to address
specifically diseases prevalent in developing countries in response to TRIPS or
other incentives. In these cases, companies will have to recoup their investment
made in developing countries, and care must be taken not to disincentivize this
type of research.


o Obtaining transparency regarding the marginal cost of production might prove
difficult; in this case, a government is free to make its own estimates and shift
the burden of proof to the respective company/patent holder.


o The economic value of the license for the licensee may be higher where an
industrial policy objective is met than where urgent public needs have to be
satisfied.473


o In case the compulsory license is issued to remedy anti-competitive behavior
on the part of the patent holder, this may be taken into account.


o The patent holder may be required to present a detailed justification of her/his
royalty request, including specific data on her/his R&D costs, the extent of
government funding, etc.



On the basis of the above considerations, countries may wish to issue royalty guidelines to
specify exact rates of remuneration. Developed country practice indicates that rates range
between 1 per cent and 10 per cent of the price of the generic drug.474 UNDP and WHO have
recommended various approaches to calculating royalty rates, as follows:475


 UNDP in 2001 recommended a general royalty rate of 4 per cent of the generic price.
This rate could be adjusted upward by as much as 2 per cent in case the product has
particular therapeutic value, and up to 2 per cent downward in case the product was
partly developed through public funds.476


 The 1998 royalty guidelines by the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) may be seen as a
more elaborate version of the 2001 UNDP guidelines. The JPO guidelines provide
royalties between 2 and 4 per cent of the price of the generic product, which may be



472See, e.g., Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, p. 44; TWN Manual, p. 98.
473 UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 477.
474 See TWN Manual, pp. 97-98. Other experts have suggested royalties comprising the marginal cost of
production plus 5 per cent of the compulsory licensee’s selling price, see Reichman, UNCTAD paper, p. 20,
quoting A. Engelberg.
475 UNDP/WHO, “Remuneration Guidelines for Non-Voluntary Use of a Patent on Medical Technologies”, by J.
Love, Health Economics and Drugs TCM Series No. 18, Geneva 2005 (in particular pp. 83-86) [hereinafter
UNDP/WHO Guidelines].
476 See UNDP, “Human Development Report 2001: Making New Technologies Work for Human Development”,
New York, Oxford University Press, 2001 (available at: http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2001/en/); see also
UNDP/WHO Guidelines, p. 68.




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decreased or increased by up to 2 per cent within a range of 0 to 6 per cent. Taking
into account the importance of fixed-dose combination treatments, which may be
patented by a variety of different rights holders, the JPO guidelines provide for the
possibility of determining different rates for each of the affected patent holders,
depending on the extent to which his patent is utilized in the licensed product.477


 The Canadian royalty guidelines of 2005, which are part of Canada’s legislation
implementing the 2003 WTO Paragraph 6 Decision/the 2005 TRIPS Amendment
Decision, provide for varying royalty rates according to a country’s ranking in the
UNDP Human Development Index.478 The maximum applicable rate is 4 per cent of
the price of the generic product, the lowest rate in 2004 was 0.02 per cent for Sierra
Leone.479 The Canadian model differs from the UNDP and JPO approaches in that it
seeks to take account of the fact that countries differ in their economic development.


 The fourth model (“Tiered Royalty Method”/TRM) proposed by UNDP and WHO
differs from the three approaches mentioned above in two major respects.480 First, it
bases the royalty on the selling price not of the generic product, but the originator
product in the United States or the European market. A general royalty rate of 4 per
cent is suggested, as representing the average royalty rate for pharmaceutical products
in the United States market. Second, the general royalty rate is adjusted according to
each country’s capacity to pay, as reflected in relative per capita income or, where a
disease affects a country in an unusually high degree, the relative income per person
needing treatment. As opposed to the UNDP Human Development Index , which
comprises many factors not directly related to capacity to pay (such as literacy,
enrolment in higher education, etc.), this approach is based directly on capacity to pay.
This results in royalty rates that are much lower for low income developing countries
and LDCs than they would be under the Canadian model.481 On the other hand, royalty
rates for middle income developing countries and high income OECD countries would
be much higher than under the Canadian model, due to the fact that the rate is
calculated on the basis of the originator price plus directly on the much higher
capacity to pay.482 In April 2010, Ecuador granted a compulsory license on ritonavir,
an antiretroviral (ARV) drug patented in Ecuador by Abbott Laboratories, and
calculated royalties payable to Abbott based on the TRM.483


 Countries are free to decide how to determine royalty rates; the above proposals are
mere suggestions. While the UNDP approach has the merit of simplicity and easy
administration, the JPO model provides important assistance in addressing multiple
patents within one licensed product. The Canadian approach and the TRM seem to
strike a fairer balance between the opposing interests of the patent holder and the
general public. It is especially the TRM that favors patients in low income countries,



477 For details, see UNDP/WHO Guidelines, pp. 68-72.
478 For details, see “The TRIPS Agreement and Public Health”, Communication from Canada to the WTO
Council for TRIPS, WTO document IP/C/W/464 of 14 November 2005, paragraph 17.
479 UNDP/WHO Guidelines, p. 72.
480 Ibid, pp. 73, 85.
481 For example, the annual royalty payable for the drugs Lopinavir and Ritonavir would be USD 1.58 in Zambia
under the Canadian model, but only USD 0.06 under the TRM (UNDP/WHO Guidelines, p. 75, Table R-4).
482 Annual royalties in Brazil for the same drugs would be USD 11.98 under the Canadian approach, and $14.45
under the TRM. For Germany, the Canadian model would result in an annual royalty rate of $17.97, while the
TRM would propose $277.31. The TRM approach also provides the option of modifying the 4 per cent basic
royalty rate for high income countries in case the originator’s price is considered excessive in those countries, or
does not properly reflect the therapeutic value of the invention (UNDP/WHO Guidelines, p. 85).
483 See IP Watch, “Ecuador Grants First Compulsory Licence, For HIV/AIDS Drug”, online publication of 22
April 2010 (available at www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2010/04/22/ecuador-grants-first-compulsory-licence-for-
hivaids-drug/).




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while it takes account of the need of patent holders to recoup their investment in
middle and high income countries.




3.3.2.8 Review by judicial or distinct higher authority


As indicated above, the TRIPS Agreement requires members to review requests for the grant
of compulsory licenses on a case-by-case basis. Members have to make available in their
domestic legislation means to appeal the decisions taken by the initial granting authority
(Article 31 (i), TRIPS Agreement). Such appeals may be filed with a court or an
administrative authority distinct from and higher than the initial granting authority. In addition
to appeals relating to the authorization of a compulsory license, a court or a distinct higher
authority shall also review any decision concerning the remuneration of the patent holder
(Article 31 (j), TRIPS Agreement). The following should particularly be noted:484


 A judicial authority does not need to be a specialized court on IP matters. As the issue
of compulsory licensing is closely related to non-IP issues such as public health, it
might even be more appropriate, from a public policy point of view, to have a general
court review the initial authority’s decisions on grant and remuneration.


 Members that opt for review by the administration rather than the courts have to make
sure the review authority is at a more senior level of government than the initial
granting authority. In addition, the review authority must not be subject to control by
the authority that initially granted the license and decided on the compensation.


 For government use licenses, the TRIPS Agreement in Article 44.2, first sentence,
provides governments with the option to bar the patent holder from the possibility to
invoke injunctive relief against a government use license. This means that a
government may not be enjoined from using the patented invention. But this option
does not encompass a government’s obligation to make available a remedy for
ordinary judicial review of the legality of the granting decision under Article 31 (i),
TRIPS Agreement (i.e. without granting injunctive relief).


 As regards other forms of compulsory licenses (i.e. those usable for commercial
purposes), Article 44.2 of the TRIPS Agreement, second sentence, authorizes
members to exclude injunctive relief as an available remedy, if such remedy is
inconsistent with domestic law. However, like under the first sentence of this provision,
this waiver does not include the obligation to make available a remedy for ordinary
judicial review of the legality of the granting decision (i.e. without granting injunctive
relief). This provision arguably covers cases where in an infringement proceeding the
court refuses the patentee’s request for injunctive relief but instead grants a royalty to
be paid by the defendant for the continued use of the patented invention until a final
decision in the infringement proceeding has been rendered.485



484 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, pp. 477-479.
485 See J. Love, “Abbott recently sought compulsory license in United States patent dispute”, in IP health
newsletter of 2 May 2007, referring to a 2006 United States Supreme Court decision (eBay Inc v. MercExchange,
L.L.C., 126 S. Ct. 1837 (2006)). According to the United States Supreme Court, the patent holder in order to be
granted injunctive relief in a patent infringement suit has to demonstrate (1) that he has suffered irreparable
injury; (2) that other remedies, including the payment of royalties, are inadequate to compensate for that injury;
(3) that considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and the defendant, a remedy in equity is
warranted; and (4) that the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction (see ibid). Should
the plaintiff be unable to demonstrate these cumulative requirements, he will have to tolerate continued use of
the patented invention by the defendant, in exchange of a royalty payment. In practical terms, this situation




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3.3.3 Policy option: a regional approach to procurement and compulsory licensing


Regionally coordinated procurement of medicines helps create larger markets and economies
of scale for potential suppliers, making developing countries and LDCs more attractive for
foreign pharmaceutical producers, both originator and generic firms. Governments interested
in promoting local pharmaceutical production may use market incentives to attract foreign
patent holders to invest in their domestic pharmaceutical sector.

According to ideas developed by Reichman, the first step to be undertaken by those
governments willing to collaborate would be the establishment of Regional Pharmaceutical
Supply Centers (RPSCs).486 The RPSCs would be headed by a Board of Directors, which
could be made up of the participating countries’ health ministers or their representatives. A
RPSC’s main responsibility would be the procurement of medicines for the entire region.

The RPSC could offer the foreign patent holders to supply the entire regional market,
provided the rights holders are prepared to supply the medicines at affordable prices and are
willing to assist local producers in the region, for instance through licensing of technology,
technical assistance in pharmaceutical production and the provision of key active ingredients
that the local producer cannot manufacture himself/herself.

As pharmaceutical companies do not recoup their R&D costs in developing country markets,
regulated prices for pharmaceuticals do not need to be based on a Western value system.487
Instead, the patentee could be required to sell at marginal cost of production plus a certain
royalty rate.

For the regional market incentive to become operational, it is important that the participating
governments show the political will to harmonize national rules and practices in the areas of
price control policies, marketing approval standards, uniform standards for good quality
production, and joint R&D in diseases affecting the region. Only then will the promise of a
regional market provide a sufficiently realistic incentive for originator companies to agree to
make their products available at prices affordable in the region. It will also be important for
the countries of the region to agree upon the choice of local producer(s) of any given drug.

The extent to which the foreign investor is prepared to assist local manufacturers in the
establishment of sustainable production, such as through licensing agreements, would
determine the prices at which the RPSC would purchase the products from the patent holder.

However, should the foreign patentee refuse the offer, the RPSC may seek to purchase the
needed medicaments (or their ingredients) from generic producers, such as in India, under the
same conditions as previously offered to the originator company. Depending on its patent
status in the exporting country, the foreign generic producer may manufacture the drug under
a compulsory license and export it under the draft Article 31bis, TRIPS Agreement system.
Depending on its conferred authority, the RPSC could then issue a multitude of national
compulsory licenses for the importation of the needed products, based on the fact that no

corresponds to a compulsory license issued by the court. For an analysis of the eBay case, see M.J. Jacobs/D.E.
Melaugh, “eBay Inc. v. MercExchange: Copyright’s Promise for Patent Injunctions”, at
http://www.techlawforum.net/post.cfm/ebay-inc-v-mercexchange-copyright-s-promise-for-patent-injunctions.
486 See Reichman, UNCTAD paper, for details, including a number of potential problems that the RPSCs could
face and how to address them.
487 Reichman, UNCTAD paper, pp. 19-20, with references to Engelberg; Outterson.




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agreement on price was reached with the patent holder. The foreign generic producer would
then be able to supply the entire regional market, in collaboration with local manufacturers. In
the context of regional trade agreements of at least 50 per cent LDC membership, all involved
producers could benefit from the facilitated re-exportation scheme under draft Article 31bis
(3), TRIPS Agreement.

It bears emphasizing that these suggested RPSCs in order to be operational would by no
means require complex bureaucratic structures.488 What is basically needed is an agreement
among concerned governments to pool their procurement efforts and to set up the legal
infrastructure to enable efficient decision making by a regional body. Actual distribution of
the procured medicines could be facilitated through the assistance of relief agencies and civil
society organizations. Over time, regional efforts would also benefit from the creation of an
independent science body to establish a list of essential medicines for the respective region.489

In conclusion, the regional approach to procurement and compulsory licensing aims at
producing “a market-based solution by providing a collective supply and distribution body
that would encourage the pharmaceutical industry to engage in more constructive and
expeditious price reduction negotiations with developing countries. Essentially, the
procurement centers could provide a powerful incentive for patentees to voluntarily bring
prices down and thereby avoid compulsory licensing in all but the most critical instances. At
the same time, it could put a stop to dilatory action by producers engaging in endless litigation
in single territories. Above all, it could provide a major incentive to expand local production
capabilities and to channel public and private funds in this direction.”490


3.4 The control of patent abuse and anti-competitive licensing practices


3.4.1 Background


3.4.1.1 Introduction


The exercise of exclusive rights such as patents may give rise to abuses and anti-competitive
behaviour, whether through abuse of dominance (by individual firms or through collective
abuse) or agreements among firms. Local producers of pharmaceutical products in developing
countries often depend on collaboration with pharmaceutical companies from developed or
advanced developing countries.

Many pharmaceutical substances needed for the production of anti-HIV/AIDS or other drugs
will have to be imported, such as APIs. To the extent that a foreign company holds a domestic
patent on one or more of these substances, local producers may be interested in seeking a
voluntary license from the patent holder. The terms of the license, i.e. the conditions under
which the licensee may operate, are determined in negotiations between the licensor and the
licensee. The licensing terms are of considerable importance to the local manufacturer, as they
can be more or less favourable to sustainable production. Licensors might be tempted to retain



488 Ibid, p. 29.
489 Ibid.
490 Ibid, p. 30.




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most of their protected technology and to reduce the licensee’s role to the mere assembly or
distribution of the product, without sharing any significant know-how. Patent holders may
also refuse entirely to grant licenses to local producers.

In addition, a patent holder’s practice of his IP right may also affect local producers outside
the IP licensing context, such as, for instance, through predatory pricing. Governments have
limited powers to control such business practices, especially as commercial parties should in
general be free to determine the content of their contractual arrangements. However, the
TRIPS Agreement grants members the freedom to define practices, in their domestic laws,
which in particular cases may constitute IPR abuse, and to take the appropriate measures to
control such practices. Such control could be exercised in a way that promotes the
development of sustainable pharmaceutical production capacities on a national or regional
basis.491

Under the TRIPS Agreement, abuse of IPRs is a wide concept. It depends on the proper
understanding of the objectives of IP protection. IP laws aim at enabling the rights holder to
appropriate the full market value of the protected subject matter, thus serving as incentives for
the creation, use and exploitation of inventions, works, marks and designs.492 At the same
time, Article 7, TRIPS Agreement states that the protection and enforcement of IPRs should
“contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination
of technology …“. In a well-functioning market economy, IPRs may provide incentives for
competition, based on the promise to grant exclusive rights to products or services that bring a
new benefit to society.

For this incentive mechanism to function, however, it is essential that existing IPRs are not
employed in a way that only benefits their owners, while neglecting their purpose of
promoting competitiveness through technology innovation and dissemination. Three types of
conflict – abuse, abuse of market dominance and practices restraining trade and technology
transfer - may arise between the exercise of IPRs and the pursuit of competitiveness,
independently of whether one considers the interface of IP protection and the promotion of
competition as mutually supportive or as contradictory.493


 The notion of IPR abuse under the TRIPS Agreement is a broad one, referring in
general to the illegitimate use of an IP right, which is contrary to the objectives of IP
protection, such as the promotion of innovation or of dissemination of technology.494
There may be abuse regardless of whether the IPR holder in question has a dominant
market position, or whether he uses his IPR in an anti-competitive way.495



 Abuse of a dominant position in the relevant market. This is often referred to as


“abuse of market dominance”. The dominant position is used to extend the protection
beyond a legitimate purpose. Dominance may be determined, inter alia, by the
respective market shares and the ability of the respective IP holder to behave



491 See J. Berger, “Advancing Public Health by Other Means: Using Competition Policy”, in Negotiating Health.
Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines (editors Roffe P., Tansey G., and Vivas-Eugui D.), Earthscan,
London, 2006, pp. 181 ff. (185) [hereinafter Berger].
492 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 540.
493 Ibid, p. 541.
494 Ibid, p. 548.
495 Ibid.




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independently of its competitors, its customers, and ultimately its consumers.496 The
dominant position facilitates the abuse of exclusive rights. An example is the case
adjudicated by the EGC in July 2010:497 a multinational pharmaceutical company,
which both the EU Commission and the EGC found to be dominant in the market for
its anti-ulcer medicine, 498 requested the withdrawal of regulatory approval for a
capsule formulation of its drug in a number of EU countries, replacing it with a new
tablet formulation. The sole purpose of this action was to prevent the sale of generic
versions and of parallel imports of the capsule formulation.499 The EGC upheld an
earlier decision by the EU Commission, considering that the withdrawal of regulatory
approval for the capsule version of the drug constituted an abuse of the company’s
dominant position in the market for anti-ulcer treatments. The EGC stressed that,
while a dominant undertaking is under no obligation to protect the interests of
competitors, this cannot “justify recourse to practices falling outside the scope of
competition on the merits.”500 In other words, what rendered the company’s conduct
abusive was the fact that the sole purpose of the withdrawal of regulatory approval
was to prevent competition through generic copies and parallel imports. The
withdrawal would not have been abusive if there had been some objective reason why
such a withdrawal was necessary to improve the competitiveness of the company’s
own products. Developing countries are encouraged to consider this approach as an
important means to address abuse of dominance in the pharmaceutical area. The same
rationale could be applied to cases where a holder of a pharmaceutical patent refuses
to make available a new drug at a price affordable to a developing country public
health service for distribution to the population at large (thereby limiting distribution
of the medicament to the affluent parts of society), despite potentially higher gains if
the drug could be sold to the public health service.501 If the sole purpose of such action
is to reduce incentives for parallel traders to take advantage of potential price
differences between the developing country and high price markets, there would seem
to be no legitimate reason for such action, especially if the patent holder renounces the
opportunity of higher commercial gains in the developing country market. Abuse of
dominance is always regarded as having an adverse effect on competition in the
relevant market. This is often referred to as “anti-competitive conduct”. The TRIPS



496 See I. Brinker, T. Loest, “Essential Facilities Doctrine and Intellectual Property Law: Where does Europe
stand in the aftermath of the IMS Health case?”, on-line publication by Gleiss Lutz Rechtsanwälte, p. 4
hereinafter Brinker/Loest, referring to European law and jurisprudence (European Court of Justice), according
to which market shares in excess of 50 per cent provide in themselves evidence of a dominant position (available
at http://www.gleisslutz.com/de/publikationen/nachanwalt.html?nDisplayJur=41).
497 EGC, Case T-321/05 of 1 July 2010, AstraZeneca v. European Commission (available at
http://curia.europa.eu/jurisp/cgi-bin/form.pl?lang=en&Submit=Rechercher&alldocs=alldocs&docj=docj&docop
=docop&docor=docor&docjo=docjo&numaff=T-321/05&datefs=&datefe=&nomusuel=&domaine=&mots=
&resmax=100).
498 Market dominance concerned oral prescription proton pump inhibitors, in particular “Losec”. For details, see
paragraphs 1-9 and 61-106 of the judgment.
499 Losec was first patented in Europe in 1979, which explains the existence of generic copies in the market at
the time the EU Commission initiated investigations (i.e. in 1999). At that time, generic manufacturers in order
to market their products in the EU needed an originator reference product. After the withdrawal of regulatory
approval for the capsule version of Losec, generic manufacturers would no longer be able to market their generic
copies of these capsules. Parallel importers of Losec capsules would equally be barred from marketing those. By
contrast, the dominant company would be the only one marketing the tablet version of Losec. See Linklaters,
“EU Court upholds ‘novel’ approach to abuse of dominance in pivotal pharma appeal”, online publication, 1 July
2010 (available at http://www.linklaters.com/Publications/201007013/Pages/Index.aspx).
500 See paragraph 816 of the judgment.
501 Example from Berger, p. 189.




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Agreement refers to this notion in a number of instances.502 Abuse of dominance plays
an important role in the assessment of anti-competitive conduct, but is not defined
under TRIPS. Box 9 briefly explains the EU’s approach to examining market
dominance.



Box 9: The concept of market dominance under EU competition law

EU competition law seeks to protect effective and “workable” competition.503 This
basically requires equality of opportunities for all market participants. 504 Market
dominance is determined through (a) the ability to behave independently of one’s
competitors, customers, and ultimately the consumers; and (b) the capacity to prevent
workable competition in the market.505 The relevant market has to be determined
through a case-by-case analysis, for which the TRIPS Agreement sets no particular
limitations. Depending on individual circumstances, single companies with market
shares above 25 per cent may have the capacity to prevent workable competition.506
Given the technological gap between R&D-based pharmaceutical companies and local
pharmaceutical producers in small developing countries or LDCs, foreign patent
holders will in many cases have the capacity to prevent competition in the above sense.
It is important to note that under the TRIPS Agreement, developing countries are not
prevented from applying stricter criteria to determine market dominance and anti-
competitive conduct.



 The third type of conflict potentially arising between the exercise of IPRs and the


pursuit of competitiveness consists of practices restraining trade or adversely affecting
the transfer and dissemination of technology. Such practices may occur through
unilateral conduct or contractual agreement. 507 They do not necessarily have to
constitute anti-competitive conduct. Again, the TRIPS Agreement provides no
definition of what constitutes a restraint on trade or an adverse effect on technology
transfer and dissemination. As Article 7 identifies technology transfer and
dissemination as one of the objectives of the TRIPS Agreement, use of IPRs that
adversely affects this objective may be considered as an IP misuse. Members may
subject such practices to appropriate measures of control, provided these are in line
with the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement (see in the following section on the
TRIPS Agreement framework).



Despite the importance of competition law and policy for the control of exclusive IP rights,
the TRIPS Agreement covers competition issues only to a very limited extent. The Agreement



502 The TRIPS Agreement authorizes members to address anti-competitive conduct in the particular context of
voluntary IP licensing (see Section 3.4.1.2, below, for details). As discussed in Section 3.3.2.2, above, a showing
of anti-competitive conduct is required to trigger facilitated procedures for issuing a compulsory license.
503 Continuous jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), see quotes in M. Zuleeg, “Artikel 3 EG”
(commentary on former Article 3 of the EC Treaty), in Vertrag über die Europäische Union und Vertrag zur
Gründung der Europäischen Gemeinschaft, Nomos, Baden-Baden, 2003, Vol. 1, p. 608, para. 8 hereinafter
EU/EC Commentary.
504 Ibid.
505 This is the standard definition used by the ECJ and the EU Commission, see H. Schröter, “Artikel 82 EG”
(commentary on former Article 82 of the EC Treaty) [hereinafter Schröter], in EU/EC Commentary, Vol. 2, p.
582, para. 71.
506 Jurisprudence of the ECJ and practice of the EU Commission with respect to the notion of “dominant
position”; see Schröter, p. 597, para. 98.
507 UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 550.




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provides for fairly detailed minimum standards of IP protection without at the same time
providing for comparable tools to control the exercise of exclusive rights. In the absence of an
international agreement on competition law and policy, there is currently no international
framework that could provide developing country policy makers with guidance regarding the
control of IP rights.508

This lack of international guidance has no major implications in a developed country context,
as most OECD countries have implemented in the course of time detailed domestic rules and
policies on the control of IP abuses and anti-competitive practices, and have experienced
authorities in place to implement these rules and policies. Developing countries, however,
often lack the technical expertise to implement complex competition rules. When
implementing their obligations under the TRIPS Agreement, they risk implementing exclusive
rights without the safeguards that usually accompany them under OECD countries’ domestic
legislation. Thus, IP systems in developing countries may end up being more restrictive on the
public domain than their counterparts in OECD countries.

It is not the purpose of this Guide to provide for detailed advice on the implementation of
development-oriented competition law and policy in general. This Guide is limited to
presenting the options available under the TRIPS Agreement to control the exercise of IPRs,
thereby promoting a pro-competitive environment in the area of pharmaceuticals.

As the pertinent TRIPS provisions on the control of IP abuse and restrictive licensing
practices are construed very broadly, guidance may be provided through references to OECD
state practice,509 bearing in mind that the particular situation in poorer countries may require
necessary adaptations of such practice.


3.4.1.2 The TRIPS Agreement framework


Under the TRIPS Agreement, there are basically four provisions that deal with IP abuse and
anti-competitive conduct on the part of IP holders.

Article 8.1


Article 8.1 provides that members may “adopt measures necessary to protect public health
and nutrition, and to promote the public interest in sectors of vital importance to their
socio-economic and technological development, provided that such measures are consistent
with the provisions of this Agreement” (emphasis added). Even though this provision does not
expressly refer to IP abuse, it does mention factors such as socio-economic and technological
development that are at the heart of many national competition laws.510 The promotion of
competitive local pharmaceutical production that ensures affordable and sustainable access to
medicines is an objective of vital importance to a country’s socio-economic and technological
development and the protection of public health.511 Members may address IP practices that

508 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 566. Note that developing countries have so far resisted efforts to
include competition rules in the WTO’s multilateral trade rules, based inter alia on the concern that
internationally binding rules would be tailored to OECD countries’ standards and needs, potentially taking away
important flexibilities for developing countries to deal with competition issues.
509 See UNCTAD, “The TRIPS Agreement and Developing Countries”, New York and Geneva, 1996, p. 3, para.
20.
510 See for example Berger, p. 184, for South Africa.
511 Ibid.




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hinder the development of such domestic production, provided this is done in a manner
consistent with the TRIPS Agreement.

Article 8.2


Article 8.2 authorizes members to adopt “appropriate measures”, consistent with the TRIPS
Agreement, “to prevent:


o The abuse of intellectual property rights by right holders; or
o The resort to practices which unreasonably restrain trade; or
o Practices which adversely affect the international transfer of technology”


(emphasis added).


This authorization is, as under Article 8.1, contingent upon the TRIPS consistency of the
measure taken, and upon the proportionality of such measure (see reference to
“appropriate”).512 The notion of “abuse” under this provision is a broad one, as defined in the
introduction to this section (i.e. any illegitimate use of an IPR, which is contrary to the
objectives of IP protection).513 As long as members remain within these boundaries, they are
authorized to provide for more specific definitions of “abuse”.



Article 8.2 of the TRIPS Agreement also refers to practices adversely affecting the
international transfer of technology. Technology transfer is one of the expressly stated
objectives of IPR protection and enforcement (Article 7). Where the exercise of IP rights
renders such objective more difficult, it may in some cases be regarded as constituting an
abuse in the above sense. However, as Article 8.2 refers to IP abuse and adverse effects on
technology transfer as two separate cases, members may under this provision address
practices by IPR holders that, without necessarily constituting abuse, nevertheless have an
adverse impact on technology transfer.514



The same applies to practices by the IP holder which unreasonably restrain trade; these may
be addressed by members irrespective of their qualification as abusive. However, the
reference to practices which “unreasonably” restrain trade indicates that those IP-related
practices that do restrain trade, but are nevertheless inherently beneficial, are to be tolerated
(“rule of reason” approach). Examples of trade-restraining but nevertheless beneficial
practices are contractual clauses facilitating the productive use of IP, such as confidentiality
requirements under trade secret agreements and licenses, or conditioning the grant of sub-
licenses by the licensee on the consent by the licensor.515 By contrast, restrictions such as
limitations on a party’s ability to determine its prices would not fall under this category of
inherently beneficial practices.516

Article 40


While Article 8 of the TRIPS Agreement may encompass any IP abuse or practice (whether
unilateral, bilateral, or multilateral) affecting technology transfer or trade, Article 40 deals
specifically with the control of anti-competitive conduct in licensing agreements, whether



512 For details, see UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, pp. 550-554.
513 Ibid, p. 548.
514 See Berger, p. 184.
515 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 548.
516 Ibid, referring to Article 4 of the EC “Commission Regulation (EC) No. 772/2004 on the application of
Article 81(3) of the EC Treaty to categories of technology transfer agreements”.




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these are bilateral or multilateral.517 Thus, cross-licensing agreements and patent pools may be
controlled under this provision. 518 The provision applies where contractual licensing
constitutes the centre of gravity of the respective transaction; by contrast, there is no room for
Article 40 where the anti-competitive conduct in question relates mainly to other business
transactions such as, e.g., assignments, joint ventures, or subcontracting and outsourcing.519 In
the context of the local pharmaceutical production, the first two paragraphs of the provision
are particularly relevant.

Article 40.1 reflects WTO members’ agreement “that some licensing practices or conditions
pertaining to intellectual property rights which restrain competition may have adverse
effects on trade and may impede the transfer and dissemination of technology” (emphasis
added). As a consequence of this agreement, Article 40.2 authorizes members to control
certain licensing practices and conditions. Article 40.1 covers only cases where anti-
competitive conduct results either in adverse effects on trade or in an impediment to
technology transfer and dissemination.520 Members may not have recourse to this provision to
control in the abstract the effects of licensing agreements on technology transfer. It must be
established that the licensing practice at issue restrains competition and, due to such
restraint, impedes technology transfer and dissemination, or521 has adverse effects on trade.



Following the recognition in Article 40.1 of the existence of certain anti-competitive licensing
practices, Article 40.2 authorizes members to adopt “appropriate measures”, consistent with
the TRIPS Agreement, to prevent or control such practices. To this end, members may specify
in their domestic laws licensing practices or conditions “that may in particular cases
constitute an abuse of intellectual property rights having an adverse effect on competition in
the relevant market” (emphasis added). This means that mere misuse of an IPR (i.e. contrary
to the purpose of IP protection) is not sufficient to trigger the application of this provision (as
opposed to Article 8.2, see above). Under Article 40 of the TRIPS Agreement, members may
only control IP abuses that have anti-competitive effects and thereby a negative impact on
trade and technology transfer. Even though Article 40.2 does not expressly refer to an impact
on trade or technology transfer, its scope is informed by Article 40.1, which requires a link
between the anti-competitive practice and trade or technology transfer and which sets the
basic understanding for the authorization provided to members under Article 40.2.522

As under Article 8.2, members are free to define “abuse” according to their national laws and
practices. But such abuse must in addition have anti-competitive effects, as opposed to the
kind of abuse under Article 8.2 (see above).523

Article 40.2 by referring to “particular cases” makes clear that the control of IP licensing
should be done on a case-to-case basis. Members may not specify anti-competitive practices
in the abstract, but “in reasonably detailed circumstantial form and by reference to their actual



517 UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 556.
518 For more details on cross-licensing agreements and patent pools, see below, Section 3.4.2.4.
519 UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 556.
520 See also UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 557.
521 Despite the express language in Article 40.1 (“and”), these negative criteria apply alternatively, rather than
cumulatively. This is so because Article 40.1 covers the licensing of any IPR, such as trademarks, which is not
necessarily related to technology transfer. See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 557.
522 UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 559.
523 Thus, as compared to Article 8.2, the scope of application of Article 40 is much narrower: it requires more
than just any form of abuse; it requires a restraint on competition that in turn affects trade or technology transfer.




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impact on the conditions of competition existing in the markets concerned”.524 As some
licensing practices, such as pricing agreements, output limitations or certain allocations of
markets or customers may be considered anti-competitive under all foreseeable circumstances,
listing these practices as per se prohibitions would still be in line with the case-by-case
approach required under Article 40.2, provided all potential exceptions to the general
prohibition are specified as well. An example of a permissible practice is Article 4 of the EU
Commission’s Regulation on Technology Transfer Agreements, which specifies hardcore
restrictions in licensing agreements that shall be considered prohibited per se, but at the same
time lists all the exceptions from this prohibition.525



After setting the requirements for members’ control of IP licensing practices, Article 40.2
specifies, in a non-exhaustive manner, practices that may be subject to such control. In
particular, reference is made to practices that may potentially be relevant also to local
pharmaceutical producers entering into licensing agreements with patent holders, such as:


 Exclusive grant back conditions: such clauses relate to obligations on the licensee to
grant an exclusive license to the licensor or a third party designated by the licensor in
respect of the licensee’s own improvements or new applications of the licensed
technology;


 No-challenges clauses: such clauses relate to obligations on the licensee not to
challenge the validity of IPRs held by the licensor;


 Coercive package licensing: such clauses were defined in the UNCTAD Draft Code
of Conduct on the Transfer of Technology as restrictions “imposing acceptance of
additional technology, future inventions and improvements, goods or services not
wanted by the acquiring party or restricting sources of technology, goods or services,
as a condition for obtaining the technology required […]”.526



Article 31 (k)


Finally, governments, when addressing anti-competitive practices by pharmaceutical patent
holders, may have recourse to compulsory licensing (see above). Where a court or the
administration considers a practice as anti-competitive, procedures for the granting of a
compulsory license are, as discussed in this Guide, considerably facilitated. In particular:


 There is no obligation to conduct prior negotiations with the patent holder;
 As opposed to normal circumstances, the full amount of medicines produced under a


compulsory license may be exported. Thus, there is no need for the waiver system
under the new draft Article 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement;


 The royalty rates payable to the patent holder may be lower than under normal
circumstances.



Anti-competitive practices may occur in a specific licensing context (Article 40, TRIPS
Agreement) as well as within the broader context of patent abuse under Article 8.2, TRIPS
Agreement (e.g. predatory pricing). The granting of a compulsory license under the conditions
of Article 31 (k), TRIPS Agreement, constitutes a measure “consistent” with the TRIPS
Agreement as required under both Articles 40.2 and 8.2.



524 UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 559.
525 Commission Regulation (EC) No 772/2004 of 27 April 2004 on the application of Article 81(3) of the EC
Treaty to categories of technology transfer agreements, Official Journal of the European Union, L 123/11.
526 Negotiations on the Code of Conduct were conducted under the auspices of UNCTAD between 1976 and
1985, when they came to a halt, due to disagreements on the formulation of a number of international principles
on technology transfer.




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3.4.2 Policy options


Developing country policy makers and pharmaceutical producers need to be aware of a
number of scenarios which may arise in the area of pharmaceutical patent abuse and anti-
competitive conduct. The following section explores how the TRIPS provisions mentioned
above may be used to address these scenarios.


3.4.2.1 Excessive pricing


As outlined in the introduction to this section, pricing patented medicines above levels the
general public in a developing country can afford may be qualified as abusive, for example
where such action serves the sole purpose of preventing parallel imports into other countries
and ignores the potential of higher commercial gains through sales to the public at large.
Excessive prices may be charged to the end user (i.e. of finished pharmaceutical products) or
a licensee (i.e. patented parts/substances needed for generic production):


 Where the excessive price concerns the end product, such practice may be addressed
by governments under Article 8.2, TRIPS Agreement. An appropriate measure in this
sense could be the non-enforcement of the patent at issue, in case of infringement by
generic competitors. 527 Alternatively, governments are free to provide for the
possibility of compulsory licensing, based on the freedom under the TRIPS
Agreement to determine the substantive grounds for the granting of a compulsory
license.


 Where the excessive pricing concerns a licensed pharmaceutical substance, measures
to address such practice could be addressed under Articles 8.2 or 40, TRIPS
Agreement. For the latter provision to apply, the practice at issue would have to satisfy
the specific requirement of a restraint on competition under Article 40, TRIPS
Agreement. This requirement would be met to the extent that excessive prices
complicate generic production in the market covered by the patent. Appropriate
measures include non-enforcement of the patent, but also the granting of a
compulsory license under facilitated procedures, as provided under Article 31 (k),
TRIPS Agreement.


 Finally, it should be noted that a strategy of excessive pricing will only work where
the producer dominates the market. In case of a competitive market, excessive pricing
will only push consumers toward purchasing the competitors’ products. As a general
rule, excessive pricing by dominant companies may be considered abusive and thus
anti-competitive, opening the possibility to issue a compulsory license under
facilitated procedures, as provided by Article 31 (k), TRIPS Agreement.



It is important to note that the determination of what is “excessive” lies in the discretion of
each WTO member (see box 10 on the experience in South Africa). In many OECD countries,
government agencies are authorized to control the prices of medicines. Due to important
differences in purchasing power and a frequent lack of health insurance schemes in
developing countries, prices that are considered appropriate in developed countries may be

527 Non-enforcement is a common remedy under United States law to address cases of patent “misuse”. See
Reichman with Hasenzahl, Overview, p. 21. The concept of patent misuse is particular to the United States legal
system. In general, it states that an IP holder, who seeks to expand the scope of his right beyond its scope and
purpose, does not behave in a legitimate way and will be refused the enforcement of his right. The broad notion
of abuse under the TRIPS Agreement encompasses this concept.




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deemed excessive in developing countries. Whereas in OECD countries, price controls need
to take account of the need by the pharmaceutical industry to recoup their investment in R&D,
this does not necessarily apply to the same extent to developing countries. Small developing
countries as well as LDCs are not the markets where R&D-based pharmaceutical companies
reap major benefits.

Box 10: The South African experience – addressing excessive pricing of
pharmaceuticals528

In September 2002, a number of civil society organizations and individuals lodged a
complaint against two multinational pharmaceutical companies with the South African
Competition Commission. The complainants alleged violation by some pharmaceutical
companies of South African competition law by charging excessive prices to the detriment of
consumers for three of their patent-protected ARV medicines. According to South African
law (Section 49 B (2) (b) of the Competition Act, No. 89 of 1998), “any person” may “submit
a complaint against an alleged prohibited practice”. In the complainants’ view, the drugs
prices were excessive because even when taking account of the need to recoup R&D costs and
make profits, as well as the obligation to pay certain licensing fees, the prices remained
unjustifiably elevated.

The South African Competition Commission endorsed this view and referred the case to the
Competition Tribunal. Before the Tribunal could adjudicate on the issue, however, the
affected companies agreed to license the right to use the patented substances to a number of
local manufacturers. Such agreements had existed before, but under terms and conditions that
proved impracticable for the local producers (e.g. sales only allowed to the public sector, at a
30 per cent royalty rate). The new agreements, by contrast, contained much more favourable
terms, such as:


 The licensees were authorized to produce for both the public and the private sector;
 The licensees were authorized to produce locally as well as to import the patented


substance from abroad (including fixed dose combinations (FDCs));
 The licensees were authorized to export their locally-produced products to all of sub-


Saharan Africa;
 The maximum royalty rate was set to be 5 per cent (including FDCs).



What this case shows is:


 The beneficial effects of IP licensing on medicines availability, promotion of local
producers and potential win-win collaborative solutions with the patent holder
(potential for increased sales in entire region). In this case, the result of increased
generic competition was a significant price drop for involved drugs between 58.3 per
cent and 93.9 per cent (i.e. prices for patented products prior to the complaint as
compared to the cheapest available generic versions produced by local manufacturers
on the basis of the new licenses).529


 The need to provide for a domestic framework that makes available tools to bring the
patent holder to the negotiating table, such as:


o Legal standing for civil society organizations in competition-related cases;

528 For details see Berger, pp. 197-199.
529 Figures from J. Berger, “The role of civil society in the use of TRIPs flexibilities: a focus on South Africa”,
presentation made at the UNCTAD regional workshop on developing local productive and supply capacity in the
pharmaceutical sector – the role of intellectual property rights, 19-23 March 2007, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (on
file with the authors).




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o Existing capacity of domestic pharmaceutical manufacturers who could
become interesting partners for the foreign patent holder (a “carrot” for the
patent holder);


o Regional structures to ensure economies of scale (another “carrot” for the
patent holder);


o Availability of compulsory licenses for patent abuse/excessive pricing as a
credible threat in case of lack of cooperation (a “stick” for the patent holder).


 The importance of the broad picture: abuse provisions/excessive pricing should be
interpreted in the light of a country’s public health emergency and constitutional right
to access to healthcare services (where available).




Overall, developing country policymakers should seek to define, in domestic legislation:


 What is “excessive” pricing, taking account of the weak purchasing power and lack of
health insurance schemes in many developing countries. Definitions may include
references to public health concerns;


 What may be expected of an IPR holder to justify such pricing; and
 What forms of remedy apply after a price has been determined as excessive:530


 The threat of compulsory licensing may be an efficient tool in this
respect, as many patent holders prefer lowering their prices rather than
seeing generic competitors (i.e. the compulsory licensee) enter the
market. The TRIPS Agreement (Article 31) leaves members free to
determine excessive prices as a substantive ground for compulsory
licensing (see above, the section on compulsory licenses). However, it
is important to note that facilitated procedures for the grant of such
licenses will only be available to the extent that the patent holder’s
behaviour has been characterized as anti-competitive (Article 31 (k),
TRIPS Agreement).


 An alternative to the grant of a compulsory license may be the non-
enforcement of the patent right at issue.


3.4.2.2 Predatory pricing


The practice of selling goods or services below marginal costs, without justification, may be
used by patent holders to drive generic competitors out of the market, or to prevent their
market entry in the first place. An existing exclusive right may contribute to the establishment
of a dominant position in a given market, which in turn may enable the right holder to have
recourse to predatory pricing practices.

The latter are particularly relevant in cases where despite an existing patent, the rights holder
still faces competition through therapeutically equivalent, off-patent products. Where, by
contrast, the patent does result in actual market exclusivity, the rights holder might have
recourse to predatory pricing after compulsory licenses have been granted to generic
competitors. Finally, predatory pricing practices may even discourage potential generic
suppliers from applying for a compulsory license.531

530 Berger, p. 190.
531 Ibid, pp. 190-191.




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Predatory pricing practices may occur outside or within a licensing context:


 Where a licensor, while claiming the licensing fees, seeks to keep the licensee out of
the market, government measures to control such practice must satisfy the conditions
under Article 40, TRIPS Agreement (i.e. to show anti-competitive conduct). It should
be noted that only dominant firms or cartels are in a position to carry out predatory
pricing. Due to its impact on generic competition, predatory pricing may always be
considered as abusive of dominance and thus anti-competitive within the meaning of
Article 40. Possible remedies include non-enforcement of the patent right at issue as
well as the grant of a compulsory license under facilitated procedures (Article 31
(k), TRIPS Agreement).


 Where predatory pricing is practiced outside a licensing context, the TRIPS-
compatibility of government measures to control such practice is tested against the
terms of Article 8.2, TRIPS Agreement. Due to the anti-competitive nature of
predatory pricing, compulsory license under facilitated procedures (Article 31 (k),
TRIPS Agreement) may also be made available in this scenario, as an alternative to
patent non-enforcement.



While the negative impact of predatory pricing on generic competition is obvious, its impact
on access to medicines is less clear. Selling drugs below marginal costs may at first improve
people’s access to affordable medicines. In the medium and long term, however, access is
likely to become more difficult, as generic competitors are driven out of the market.

As regards a definition of “predatory pricing” under national competition laws, there is a
common understanding that this must involve sales below marginal cost. This being said,
developing countries are not precluded from taking into account the fact that due to a lack of
domestic know-how of generic producers, their domestic pharmaceutical markets often lack
competitiveness to begin with, which facilitates a patent holder’s efforts to drive existing
competitors out of the market.

Overall, developing country policymakers should consider, in domestic legislation:


 A definition of what is “predatory” in pricing practices. Pre-existing weaknesses in the
domestic competitive environment should be taken into account;


 Prohibitions of such practices should apply for the benefit not only of existing, but
also of potential competitors, referring to the impact of lessening or preventing
competition;


 What may be expected of an IPR holder to justify such pricing; and
 What forms of remedy apply after a price has been determined as predatory:532


o The threat of compulsory licensing may be an efficient tool in this respect, as
many patent holders prefer adjusting their prices to fair levels rather than
seeing generic competitors (i.e. the compulsory licensee) enter the market. The
TRIPS Agreement (Article 31) leaves members free to determine predatory
prices as a substantive ground for compulsory licensing. Due to their anti-
competitive character, predatory licensing practices may be addressed under
facilitated compulsory licensing procedures (Article 31 (k), TRIPS
Agreement).





532 Ibid, p. 190.




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3.4.2.3 Refusals to license


Applicable TRIPS provisions


In the local pharmaceutical production context, one of the most important scenarios to be
addressed by policymakers is the refusal by a patent right holder to grant a license to a
potential generic manufacturer. The view has been expressed that Article 40, TRIPS
Agreement, on restrictive licensing practices and conditions, applies under this scenario.533
This provision defines some licensing practices and thus provides some guidance for
implementation. This being said, measures addressing refusals to license must meet the
requirements under Article 40, in particular show an anti-competitive character of the refusal
to license. Alternatively, governments may have recourse to the more general provision under
Article 8.2, TRIPS Agreement, which does not require anti-competitive conduct.

This being said, Article 40 does not specify under what circumstances the refusal by a patent
(or other IPR) holder to grant a license may be considered as restraining competition and
constituting abuse. Article 40.2 requires measures taken to address such abuse to be consistent
with the other provisions of the TRIPS Agreement. Thus, the control of restrictive licensing
practices may not be used to prevent the regular exercise and exploitation of IPRs, as they are
assumed by the TRIPS Agreement standards. As observed above, some guidance in this
respect may be provided by analyzing OECD country practice on refusals to license, bearing
in mind that developing countries are free to apply alternative models.

Developed country case law


In OECD country practice, the refusal by the holder of an IPR to license his right to a third
party may generally not be considered as abuse.534 In the case of the United States, case law
emphasizes the patentee’s freedom to choose whether or not to license his patent.535

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has several times reiterated its view that a dominant
intellectual property holder is under no general obligation to grant a license to a third party.536
However, the ECJ has also specified the exceptional circumstances under which the refusal to
license could actually amount to an abuse of a dominant position (which always has an
adverse effect on competition within the meaning of Article 40, paragraphs 1 and 2, TRIPS
Agreement). According to the ECJ, abuse in this context depends on three cumulative criteria
(“essential facilities doctrine”):537


 The party requesting the license intends to offer new products or services not offered
by the right holder and for which there is a potential consumer demand on a
“secondary market”.


o For example, generic producers may develop FDCs of ARV active ingredients

533 UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 556.
534 See P. Roffe/C. Spennemann, “Control of Anti-competitive Practices in Contractual Licenses under the
TRIPS Agreement”, in Correa/Yusuf, pp. 293-329 (303).
535 See “Competition Policy and the Exercise of Intellectual Property Rights”, revised report by the UNCTAD
secretariat, 19 April 2002, TD/B/COM.2/CLP/22/Rev.1.
536 For instance in IMS Health GmbH & Co. OHG v. NDC Health GmbH & Co. KG, case C-418/01 of 29 April
2004 hereinafter ECJ, IMS Health. This jurisprudence was followed by the European Court of First Instance in
September 2007 in Microsoft Corp. v. Commission of the European Communities, case T-201/04 (available at:
http://curia.europa.eu/jurisp/cgi-bin/gettext.pl?lang=en&num=79929082T19040201&doc=T&ouvert=T&
seance=ARRET).
537 ECJ, IMS Health.




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to reduce patients’ pill burden. These active ingredients have previously been
patented in separate medical products. The generic producers would need a
license from the patent holder(s) for all of these ingredients for production and
sale of the new FDC. Due to facilitated treatment, the FDC would not
constitute a mere duplication of the existing products but a new good not
produced by the patent holder(s), for which there is a potential consumer
demand on a “secondary market”.538



 There are no objective reasons for the right holder to refuse to issue a license.


o It is in the very nature of IPRs to exclude, for a limited period, competitors
from the market. The owner of a patent on a pharmaceutical active ingredient
may choose not to license the invention to any third party to remain the only
supplier on the market for that active ingredient. However, where the potential
licensee has no intention to duplicate the patented ingredient, but to use it for
the development of a new product, which is not covered by the patent, the
patent holder cannot invoke the exclusive character of its IP right to refuse a
license. Using a patent in order to prevent the development of new and
possibly superior products is contrary to one of the core objectives of IP
protection (i.e. the promotion of innovation and technology dissemination) and
therefore constitutes no objective reason for a refusal to issue a license.



 The refusal is to exclude any competition on a secondary market. The objective of


this requirement is to prevent upstream IP rights from blocking the development of
innovative downstream products. For this reason, ECJ jurisprudence does not insist on
the existence of a genuine second market; it is sufficient to have two different stages
of production that are interconnected.539 This requirement becomes relevant in cases
where activities under the upstream stage, which are covered by an IP right, are
essential for the downstream activities. Without a license to carry out the upstream
activities, a competitor has no possibility to develop the new downstream product. In
other words, while the IP holder shall be entitled to fully exploit his rights, he shall not
prevent the emergence of new products that are, as such, not covered by the original IP
right, thereby eliminating competition:


o For example, an FDC is the formulation of several active ingredients. Each
ingredient is required for the formulation. There is a market for the ingredients,
and a separate market for the FDC (or, in the terms of the ECJ, the separate
ingredients are at the upstream stage of production, the FDC is at the
downstream stage). To the extent that the ingredients are covered by one or
several patents, a license from the patent holder(s) will be essential for any
generic producer seeking to produce the FDC. The patents on the active
ingredients do not cover the new FDC as such, but make its production
impossible where no license is granted.


o An example for a very particular application of the essential facilities doctrine
is the 2005 decision by the Italian Competition Authority to order an interim
measure on the multinational company Merck to grant licenses to domestic
generic producers for the sole purpose of exporting the patented product to



538 Example from Berger, p. 192.
539 See ECJ, IMS Health, para 45.




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other EU members where the respective patent had already expired.540 In this
case, the envisaged exports did not concern a new, downstream product, as
required by the ECJ, but a generic duplication. The Authority seems to have
interpreted the secondary market requirement as covering not only new
products but also the same product on a different geographical market. The
apparent rationale is to prevent a patent holder from affecting competition
outside the territorial scope of the patent. As the Italian generic producers had
no intention of selling the generic copies within Italy, the patentee used its
exclusive production right for the national market to influence sales (and thus
competition) on foreign markets. While the ECJ in its essential facilities
jurisprudence has focused on the promotion of product innovation through
competition, the Italian Competition Authority seems to have put less
emphasis on innovation and more weight on the promotion of competition as
such, as a tool to lower drug prices. The Authority limited the patentee’s
exclusive right to produce the protected substance in Italy. But since the
licensed generic production did not affect the Italian market, the core of the
exclusive right (i.e. the right to exploit the patent within the national
boundaries) seems to have been maintained.541



Developing countries may seriously consider adopting comparable approaches to restrictive
licensing practices (even though this is by no means required under the TRIPS Agreement).
The essential facilities doctrine as interpreted by the ECJ has been characterized as “a
powerful tool to enforce effective competition for the benefit of consumers”.542 Diligently
applied, this doctrine strikes an appropriate balance between the legitimate interests of IP
holders in effective protection and societal interests in innovative downstream product
development.


3.4.2.4 Cross-licensing and patent pools


Refusals to license (to be addressed either under Article 8.2 or Article 40, TRIPS Agreement)
and other restrictive licensing practices under Article 40, TRIPS Agreement, may also occur
in a context of cross-licensing or patent pooling. These are common strategies in developed
countries to overcome the problems of blocking effects generated by exclusive rights and
ensuing difficulties for follow-on innovation (e.g. through “patent thickets”). Normally, cross-
licensing and patent pooling are traditional means in developed countries of opening up
protected technology areas to enhanced competition.



540 See Press Release of 21 June 2005 (available at http://www.cptech.org/ip/health/c/italy/), concerning the
patented active ingredient Imipenem Cilastatina; IP health newsletter of 30 June 2007 (available at
http://jiplp.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/short/2/7/452?rss=3D1).
541 The ECJ when addressing the interfaces between IPRs and competition and IPRs and trade, respectively,
distinguishes between the existence of the exclusive right as such and its exercise through the right holder.
While the EU rules on free trade and workable competition may not touch upon the existence of IP rights as such,
they may well control their particular exercise by the rights holder. As to patent rights, their existence as such
has the objective to enable the rights holder to exclusively commercialize the invention within the substantive
and geographical scope of the patent. See M. Sucker/S. Guttuso/J. Gaster, “Fallgruppen zu Artikel 81 EG-
Vertrag. VI. Immaterialgüterrechte” (commentary on the application of former Article 81 of the EC Treaty to
IPRs), in EU/EC Commentary, Vol. 2, p. 475, para. 10; p. 478, paras. 19, 20, with references to ECJ case law
(continuous jurisprudence since the 1960s).
542 Brinker/Loest, p. 9.




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Cross-licensing of patents occurs between two parties whose patents each cover subject
matter needed by the other party. Rather than blocking each other, the parties may enter into
an agreement to use each other’s protected product or process. These agreements are often
royalty-free. As they facilitate the mutual use of technology that would otherwise be blocked
by an exclusive right, cross-licensing agreements are often regarded as being pro-competitive.
On the other hand, cross-licensing will bring the involved technology under unified control. If
the parties agree on exclusive licensing, access to new technologies will be refused to third
parties (i.e. potential competitors) and thus prevent further competition.

The same applies to patent pools. These have the same objective as cross-licensing
agreements (i.e. avoid the blocking of protected technology), but occur between two or more
parties. The parties license a group of patents in a joint patent “pool” or “package”. The pool
may be held by the licensee, who may be a third party or an association of licensors, or an
independent entity (as illustrated by the UNITAID example in box 11, below). For instance,
the holders of different pharmaceutical patents may create among themselves a pool of those
patents needed for the production of a new drug, or they may license the patent pool to a
generic producer, who would be able to use all the protected materials against the payment of
license fees. Depending on the way they are administered and their purpose, patent pools may
have pro-competitive, but also anti-competitive effects. A pool is pro-competitive where the
participating parties are able to use each other’s technology for further competing product
development, and where the pool is open to be used by third parties, against the payment of a
fee. Box 11 provides an example of such an open patent pool created by UNITAID for
accelerated treatment of HIV/AIDS. On the other hand, patent pools may also have serious
anti-competitive effects where participating parties agree on joint use of the technology,
establish uniform prices of the resulting products, and refuse licenses to outsiders. Such
problems could be avoided where the pool participants are ready to license the involved
technology to third parties on reasonable terms.543 The threat of issuing a compulsory license
under the “essential facilities doctrine” could convince patent pool owners or parties to a
cross-licensing agreement to open the pool to competitors to allow follow-on innovation.

Box 11: The Medicines Patent Pool

The Medicines Patent Pool was created by UNITAID in December 2009 as a separate entity,
with UNITAID funding for a period of five years.544 UNITAID’s mission is to “contribute to
scaling up access to treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, primarily for people
in low-income countries, by leveraging price reductions for quality diagnostics and medicines
and accelerating the pace at which these are made available.”545 UNITAID was established in
September 2006 by the Governments of Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the United
Kingdom and has since then been joined by 29 additional countries and one foundation.546
Funding is provided through regular budget contributions or airline ticket taxes. 547 In
December 2009, the UNITAID Executive Board approved the establishment of a patent pool
for AIDS medicines for low and middle income countries, which was launched in July of

543 See “Competition policy and the exercise of intellectual property rights”, P.M. Njoroge, Commissioner,
Monopolies and Prices Commission, Kenya, presented at UNCTAD’s Intergovernmental Group of Experts on
Competition Law and Policy, Geneva, 17-19 July 2007. Note that Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz has proposed
patent pools in the context of pharmaceutical R&D, see J. Stiglitz, “Patents, Profits, and People”, in: Making
Globalization Work. New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 2007, pp 103-132.
544 See http://www.medicinespatentpool.org/WHO-WE-ARE2/Background.
545 See UNITAID mission statement at http://www.unitaid.eu/.
546 See UNITAID Donors.
547 Ibid.




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2010.548 The objective of the Patent Pool is to create a common facility to which holders of
patents on new ARV drugs and related technologies may license their rights, in exchange for
the payment of licensing fees. To this end, UNITAID has committed up to $4 million for one
year. The Patent Pool may license substances and technologies received from patent holders
to pharmaceutical producers to supply certain low and middle income developing countries
(although licenses will be available without discrimination as to the geographical location of
the producer). The rationale behind pooling patented technologies lies in the fact that until
now, patents on the most recent drugs owned by different companies have blocked the
development of more affordable generic versions of these drugs, as well as of fixed-dose
combinations (FDCs) by generic or R&D-based producers. FDCs facilitate treatment,
especially for children. The Patent Pool will facilitate the efforts by (R&D-based or generic)
manufacturers to produce FDCs or create improved production processes for the drugs
included in the pool, as well as efforts to develop effective generic versions of second line
ARV drugs. The Patent Pool in early 2010 identified 19 products from nine companies for
potential inclusion in the pool. Before the Pool can start making drugs and technologies
available, it will have to negotiate the terms of the licenses with patent holder companies.549
The first license was granted by the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) in late
September 2010. This license is royalty-free and authorizes the use of a series of patents
related to the HIV medicine darunavir (for the treatment of drug-resistant HIV infections).550
The idea of creating a patent pool was proposed to UNITAID by the civil society
organizations Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
in 2006.


3.4.2.5 Summary of main policy options


In conclusion, developing countries may wish to address potential IP abuses in the local
production context by providing in their domestic laws:


 Definitions of
o The notion of “abuse” of an IPR;
o The notion of “abuse of dominance” and “anti-competitive conduct” in IP-


related practice;
o The specific notion of “excessive pricing” (as a sub-category of abuse of


dominance);
o The specific notion of “predatory pricing” (as a sub-category of abuse of


dominance); and
o The conditions under which refusals to license (including in patent pools)


constitute an abuse of a dominant position (which automatically has anti-
competitive impact). In this context, the essential facilities doctrine as
practiced by the European Court of Justice could provide some useful guidance.


 Remedies for the above cases, such as:
o Non-enforcement of patent rights;
o Compulsory licensing of patented inventions. To the extent that the practice at


issue involves anti-competitive conduct (as defined in the domestic law),

548 On this and the following information, see “UNITAID Executive Board Approves Breakthrough Plan to
Make AIDS Treatment More Widely Available at Lower Cost” as well as IP Watch, “First Patent Holder Grants
Licences To UNITAID”, online publication, 1 October 2010 (http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2010/10/01/first-
patent-holder-grants-licences-to-unitaid/).
549 See statement by Ellen t’Hoen announcing the UNITAID Patent Pool
550 See http://www.medicinespatentpool.org/LICENSING.




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facilitated procedures for the granting of the license should be made available,
as authorized under Article 31 (k), TRIPS Agreement.


o To the extent possible, remedies should take account of the particularities of
each case:


 Does the abusive/anti-competitive practice have beneficial effects in
terms of improvements of domestic technological capacities, efficiency
or enhanced long-term drugs availability?


 Does this result outweigh the negative impact of the practice at issue
(i.e. restraints on competition or/and obstacles for effective technology
transfer and dissemination)?


 Practices showing beneficial effects which outweigh their negative
impact may be saved from the above remedies (“rule of reason”
approach).


3.5 The protection of clinical test data


3.5.1 Background


Introduction


While a patent confers upon its owner the right to exclude third parties from a range of
activities, it does not give the patent holder any positive right to market the protected product.
According to most national laws, the marketing of both originator drugs and their generic
copies needs to be approved by a national drug regulatory authority (DRA). The objective of
the marketing approval process is to ensure the safety and efficacy of the respective products.
The approval granted by a DRA is limited in its scope to the national territory.

The granting of a patent and the approval for the market of a pharmaceutical product
(“regulatory approval”) are thus two separate processes that involve separate government
agencies (i.e. the patent office and the DRA). An inventor who is granted a patent for a new
and inventive drug may still be denied regulatory approval if clinical tests show potential
negative effects of this drug on the human body.

Given the different objectives underlying the patent system and the granting of marketing
approvals for pharmaceuticals, the regulatory approval process is usually addressed in laws
that are separate from national IP laws. The originator of a drug thus has to file two separate
applications, one with the DRA (for the regulatory approval) and another at the patent office
(for the respective product and/or process patents). In order to meet the novelty requirement
under the national patent law, the drug originator must file a patent application for the new
product or substance as early as possible. The patent applicant also has to satisfy a number of
technical and regulatory requirements before he can actually submit to the DRA a request for
marketing approval, and both the clinical testing and related approval processes may require
additional submissions and otherwise take considerable time. Consequently, the patent is
often granted before the patent holder receives marketing approval for the patented
pharmaceutical product. However, the term of patent protection (at least 20 years) is counted
from the date of filing of the patent application (Article 33 of the TRIPS Agreement),
irrespective of the date of marketing approval. The longer it takes to obtain marketing




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approval, the shorter is the period during which the patent holder may effectively exploit his
exclusive rights in the market.

WTO members in their domestic laws may condition the granting of regulatory approval on
the applicant’s submission of clinical trial data that prove the medical safety and
pharmaceutical efficacy of a given drug. In case the originator of the data has already been
granted marketing approval abroad, a country may decide to base domestic marketing
approval on the recognition of the foreign approval. Alternatively, a country may also decide
to require the data originator to carry out additional clinical trials, in case it considers the trials
undertaken for the foreign approval as insufficient.

If marketing approval is sought by a generic producer, a country’s DRA will not be prepared
to recognize prior approvals granted to the data originator, who differs from the generic
producer. Instead, it will at least require the generic producer to submit evidence of
bioequivalence between the generic drug and the originator’s product, i.e. to show that the
copied product performs in the same manner as the originator’s product (the safety and
efficacy of which has already been proven).551 By doing so, the generic producer does not
make use of the originator’s data, which remains undisclosed and unknown to him, in line
with the TRIPS Agreement (see below for details). Rather, he has the DRA rely on the health
and safety outcome resulting from the data submitted by the originator.552 While the latter
may still argue that approval of the generic products really stems from so called “free riding
use” of the costly original test data, the TRIPS Agreement does not contain language that
would prohibit any form of reliance by the DRA on the originator data (see below for details).

The approval of the generic drug by the DRA may subsequently be recognized by a foreign
DRA with respect to the same generic producer, unless it considers the showing of
bioequivalence submitted to the other DRA as insufficient.

In the course of bioequivalence evaluation, a DRA may also have to rely on the results of
originator data submitted abroad by requesting a foreign DRA whether a certain substance has
received regulatory approval. This situation may arise in cases where a foreign originator has
not requested regulatory approval with the domestic DRA, because the originator company
did not consider it worth filing a patent in that country, or because that country did not afford
patent protection for pharmaceuticals at the time the product was discovered. In such a case,



551 “Bioequivalence” refers to the similarity of active ingredients in the originator and the generic drug.
“Bioavailability” refers to the percentage of the active ingredient which reaches the patient’s blood stream. See
D. Dunlap-Hinkler, T.J. Hannigan, R. Mudambi, “Brazil Pharmaceutical Case”, paper developed for UNCTAD’s
2011 World Investment Report. Both bioequivalence and bioavailability are usually required for generic
regulatory approval, because a combination of both will demonstrate that the generic has the same therapeutical
effect as the originator drug. Generic producers obligated to demonstrate bioequivalence may do so by
measuring “the time it takes the generic drug to reach the bloodstream in 24 to 36 healthy volunteers. This gives
them the rate of absorption, or bioavailability, of the generic drug, which they can then compare to that of the
innovator drug. The generic version must deliver the same amount of active ingredients into a patient’s
bloodstream in the same amount of time as the innovator drug.” See Pugatch, p. 102, referring to FDA-CDER.
552 As opposed to the examination of the original pharmaceutical product, the DRA when assessing a
bioequivalent generic copy no longer analyzes the trials data themselves, but relies on the outcome of the clinical
trials as indicated by these data, i.e. on the prior judgment that the drug (and, consequently, its bioequivalent), is
safe and efficacious. See J.H. Reichman, “The International Legal Status of Undisclosed Clinical Trial Data:
From Private to Public Good?” hereinafter Reichman, The International Legal Status, in Negotiating Health, p.
142, referring to the Bayer v. Canada decision by the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal (1998) (referred to as
“indirect” reliance on the test data, as opposed to “direct” reliance, where the DRA, when examining
bioequivalence of a generic drug, analyzes the original data themselves).




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the drug is in the public domain and the originator company cannot prevent any competitor
from freely using it. However, in order for a competitor to be able to market a generic copy of
the drug, the local DRA must still make a judgment about the efficacy and safety of the
generic product, and this decision may require the authority to rely on the regulatory decisions
made by a DRA in a country where the originator has actually been granted regulatory
approval. Again, the originator company may argue that the generic producer free rides on the
originator’s efforts, even though the domestic DRA in these cases makes no direct use of the
test data in question (rather, it uses the foreign decision that is based on such test data).

Responding to allegations of free riding use of originators’ test data, it should be noted that
the TRIPS Agreement in Article 39 does not contain language that would prohibit the reliance
on the original test data.553 A number of free trade agreements (FTAs) have instead attempted
to give effect to the pharmaceutical companies’ claims with results that vary from one FTA to
the other, but which on the whole have grown more favourable to the pharmaceutical
companies with each successive negotiating round. In general, it may be stated that as a result
of these FTAs, the possibility for generic producers to seek marketing approval based on
bioequivalence has been largely excluded. The FTAs basically prevent DRAs from relying,
for a certain period of time, on data submitted by other parties (i.e. the data originator), based
on the assumption that the generic competitor, by asking the DRA to rely on the original data
or the resulting regulatory decision for the approval of his products, makes use of the clinical
trial data generated by the data originator (see below for details). Thus, the generic competitor
is required to repeat clinical trials for drugs that are proven to be bioequivalent to the
originator’s approved drugs. The detailed obligations that any given developing country or
LDC will owe to the pharmaceutical companies in this regard will vary from country to
country depending on the totality of the relevant agreements they have signed.

A further wrinkle arises from the Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) provision of the TRIPS
Agreement, which was never previously applicable to IP law and which was adopted without
some of the limiting safeguards, especially for regional trade agreements, which are found in
the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade’s (GATT) version of the same doctrine.554 As a
result, a country that signs an FTA with country A, obliging it to protect clinical test data by
means of an exclusive property right may find that it owes the same protection to all other
WTO members.

Undertaking clinical trials means that the applicant for regulatory approval has to undertake a
series of pre-clinical (i.e. using computers and animal testing methods) and clinical trials (i.e.
three phases of tests on a growing number of human beings) to show the effect of the new
compound on the human body, including its absorption, distribution, metabolism and
excretion.555 The costs for these trials have been subject to considerable controversy.556 No
matter what the actual figures are, generic producers can hardly be expected to bear such
expenses, as they cannot recoup them through any exclusive rights under a patent.

Considering the magnitude of the costs incurred and the time needed for the submission of
clinical test data, it is in the interest of pharmaceutical product originators to seek some form



553 While earlier drafts of the TRIPS Agreement contained language that would have made reliance on existing
test data unfair commercial use, these provisions did not survive the modifications made in the Brussels Draft
during the Uruguay Round Negotiations. See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 525.
554 See Article XXIV.5 of GATT, 1947.
555 See Pugatch, p. 97.
556 Ibid, p. 97/87.




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of protection for their data. In fact, the case for expansive patents in the pharmaceutical sector
typically relies on this argument, especially because a company needs to recoup both the costs
of approved products and the costs of failed products, which outnumber the approved ones.
This is known as the “risk premium”.557 Whether beyond patent revenues, the originator
companies should be entitled to even more compensation by other means for expenses related
to the same product is an entirely different and controversial question. In any event, apart
from the question of costs, it is in the interest of the product originator to keep the information
relating to the product’s safety and efficacy secret to prevent competitors from using it and
free-riding upon their investment. Secrecy may help the data originator maintain his lead time
advantages, in particular by rendering more difficult any reverse engineering activities by
competitors, which may be based, inter alia, on tacit knowledge or know-how not disclosed in
the patent but revealed in the testing documents and the related data.

For these reasons, the TRIPS Agreement (see the next section for details), which in Article 39
introduces the protection of trade secrets into international law for the first time, provides for
a separate type of protection of clinical test data, which has been characterized as an
expression of trade secrets law.558 As under patent law, it is essential to interpret the pertinent
TRIPS provision in a way that strikes an appropriate balance between the above-mentioned
interests of pharmaceutical product originators on the one hand and the need to ensure access
to medicines and competition by product followers on the other hand, with due regard to the
express language and the canons of interpretation applicable from international law, such as
the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and the principles of interpretation of the
TRIPS Agreement as developed by the WTO Appellate Body.559

The TRIPS Agreement framework


The TRIPS Agreement in its Article 39 (in particular paragraph 3) imposes certain obligations
for those members that do not grant marketing approval based on the recognition of prior
foreign approvals or on the basis of a mere showing of bioequivalence. Article 39.3, TRIPS
Agreement, provides that:


“Members, when requiring, as a condition of approving the marketing of
pharmaceutical or of agricultural chemical products which utilize new chemical
entities, the submission of undisclosed test or other data, the origination of which
involves a considerable effort, shall protect such data against unfair commercial use.
In addition, members shall protect such data against disclosure, except where
necessary to protect the public, or unless steps are taken to ensure that the data are
protected against unfair commercial use.”



The obligations incurred by members under Article 39.3 are toward the originators of
pharmaceutical products, who defrayed the costs of the trials, irrespective of whether these
products are patent-protected or not in the country where marketing approval is sought.560



557 See Reichman, The International Legal Status, p. 146, noting “the aggregate weight that clinical trial costs
actually have on the pharmaceutical supply chain in the United States, and … the huge risk premium built into
the pricing of medicines there, owing to the high costs of trials that result in denials of market approval.”
558 See Pugatch, p. 98.
559 On the latter, see UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, Chapter 32 (Dispute Settlement), Annex 1 (Methods of
Interpretation under the DSU), pp. 690 ff.
560 Note that Article 39 is part of Section 7 of the TRIPS Agreement (“Protection of Undisclosed Information”),
while provisions on patents are contained in Section 5.




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According to Article 39.3, TRIPS Agreement, members have to provide protection against
unfair commercial use and disclosure of, inter alia, pharmaceutical test data that were
submitted to regulatory authorities for marketing approval purposes. The scope of Article 39.3
is limited to undisclosed data on pharmaceutical and agro-chemical products that utilize “new
chemical entities”, provided that the process of originating the data entailed a “considerable
effort”. The “considerable effort” requirement may be interpreted as encompassing not only
economic factors but also technical and scientific considerations.561

In sum, Article 39.3 applies when:


 There is an obligation to submit test data for obtaining marketing authorization for
pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals;


 The pertinent information is not publicly available;
 The origination of the data involves a considerable effort (in terms of financial,


technical and scientific inputs); and
 The submission refers to a “new chemical entity”. Hence, there is no obligation with


regard to new dosage forms and new uses or combinations of known chemical entities,
even though the marketing of those may require another approval from the DRA.562 In
addition, the TRIPS Agreement does not specify what is meant by “new”. Members
are free to apply the patent concept of novelty, according to which the obligation
under Article 39.3, TRIPS Agreement, would not arise in cases where a chemical
entity, even though not approved by the domestic drug regulator, has been approved
abroad and is thus available to the public worldwide (under a worldwide approach to
novelty, see above, Section 2.4.1.1). Alternatively, members are free to consider as
“new” those chemical entities that have not received prior regulatory approval in the
domestic territory, despite existing regulatory approvals of the same entity abroad.563



The above requirements will trigger a WTO member’s obligation to protect the relevant test
data against:

1. Disclosure (Article 39.3, TRIPS Agreement, second sentence). This means that
governments and their agencies (such as the DRA) should not disclose or reveal test data to
outsiders, especially competitors of the originator pharmaceutical producer. This obligation,
however, is not absolute. Disclosure of test data is permissible:


o Where necessary to protect the public. This proviso is important in the
public health context. For example, public health authorities may need to warn
consumers about the risks of toxic side effects in pharmaceutical products, as
revealed in the clinical trials data, or they may wish their own scientific experts
to independently evaluate the grounds for an approval decision abroad.


o Where steps are taken to ensure that the data is protected against unfair
commercial use (see below).



2. Unfair commercial use (Article 39.3, TRIPS Agreement, first sentence). Unlike the
obligation not to disclose relevant test data, the government’s obligation to protect test data



561 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, p. 531.
562 Ibid, p. 522.
563 Ibid, p. 530. Note that a number of bilateral and regional FTAs make the latter approach mandatory. See, for
instance, Article 15.10.1(c) of the United States - CAFTA FTA: “For purposes of this paragraph, a new product
is one that does not contain a chemical entity that has been previously approved in the territory of the Party.”
(http://www.ustr.gov/sites/default/files/uploads/agreements/cafta/asset_upload_file934_3935.pdf).




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against unfair commercial use is expressed without any exceptions. While the TRIPS
Agreement contains no definition of what constitutes “unfair commercial use”, the term is
apparently based on the concept of “unfair competition” under Article 10bis of the Paris
Convention, which is the foundation for incorporating Section VII into the TRIPS Agreement
in the first place under Article 39.1.564 However, Parties to the Convention have never been
able to agree on the meaning of “unfair use”, because of:


 Different national legal traditions of unfair competition rules;
 Different moral standards in different countries as to what is “fair” in


competitive relations; and
 Different levels of competition prevailing in different countries.565


These are important national differences, which necessarily bear on the interpretation of the
obligation under Article 39.3 of the TRIPS Agreement to provide protection against “unfair
commercial use”, all the more so because Article 10bis of the Paris Convention only interdicts
acts of unfair competition in international trade.

The obligation to protect test data against unfair commercial use has been interpreted in
different ways (see following sections). While it is not the purpose of this Guide to contribute
to this academic discussion, the different interpretations of fairness in this context have
fundamental implications for generic producers, including those from small developing
countries and LDCs. Policy makers when implementing Article 39.3, TRIPS Agreement need
to be aware of the implications of different policy options for local pharmaceutical producers
and for access to medicines in their respective countries. For this reason, the following
sections will discuss three different modes of implementing the unfair commercial use
obligation, i.e. through:


 A misappropriation approach;
 A data exclusivity approach, including data exclusivity rules in free trade agreements;
 A compensatory liability or cost-sharing approach.566



All of these approaches have been developed in response to current national drug supply
systems, which saddle pharmaceutical companies with the costs of providing data that may be
considered a public good. 567 In recent years, proposals have been made to shift the
responsibility for funding and oversight of clinical trials into the hands of public
institutions.568 Despite the importance of this issue for the future design of pharmaceutical
R&D, an in-depth discussion would go beyond the scope and purpose of this Guide, which

564 Ibid, p. 523. Article 39.1 of the TRIPS Agreement states that:
“In the course of ensuring effective protection against unfair competition as provided in Article 10bis of the Paris
Convention (1967), Members shall protect undisclosed information in accordance with paragraph 2 and data
submitted to governments or governmental agencies in accordance with paragraph 3.”
565 See S. Ladas, “Patents, Trademarks and Related Rights: National and International Protection”, Vol. 3,
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1975.
566 For a detailed overview, see R. Weissman, “Data Protection: Options for Implementation”, in Negotiating
Health, p, pp. 151-178 hereinafter Weissman.
567 Reichman, The International Legal Status, p. 146.
568 For the idea of a public prize fund see J. Love and T. Hubbard, “The Big Idea: Prizes to Stimulate R&D for
New Medicines”. KEI Research Paper No. 1, March 2007; B. Krohmal, “Prominent Innovation Prizes and
Reward Programs”. KEI Research Note 1, 2007; J. Love, “Measures to Enhance Access to Medical Technologies,
and New Methods of Stimulating Medical R&D”. UC Davis Law Review, Vol. 40, 2007, pp. 679-715. See also
T.R. Lewis, J.H. Reichman and A.D. So, “The Case for Public Funding and Public Oversight of Clinical Trials”,
The Berkeley Electronic Press, Economist’s Voice, Volume 4, Issue 1, 2007
(available at: http://www.bepress.com/ev/vol4/iss1/art3/).




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aims to assist stakeholders in the use of TRIPS flexibilities under the existing drug
development system.


3.5.1.1 The misappropriation approach


This approach is based on an interpretation of Article 39.3, TRIPS Agreement which seeks to
facilitate, to the greatest possible extent, the early market entry of generic competitors.
According to this interpretation, Article 39.3, TRIPS Agreement obligates members to protect
test data in accordance with principles of unfair competition in international trade (i.e. Article
10bis, Paris Convention) that are expressly invoked in the chapeau clause of Article 39.1 of
the TRIPS Agreement. This means that competitors of the data originator pharmaceutical
producer must be prevented from obtaining the latter’s data through unfair commercial means
(“misappropriation”),569 and of using it for unfair commercial advantage, such as to shorten
the time and reduce the cost for reverse engineering. This leaves competitors free to either
license existing data or to generate their own (such as through reverse engineering without
unfair access to secret data), if the DRA so requires.

However, this obligation does not prevent the DRA from relying on the results of original test
data from domestic or foreign approvals when assessing the safety and efficacy of generic
competing products, based on claims of bioequivalence (“reliance”). In this connection, the
generic producer is not obliged to submit to the DRA clinical data proving the safety and
efficacy of his medicament, if he can show that the generic drug is bioequivalent to the
originator product. The fact of reliance alone on a domestic or foreign approval and the results
of the supporting test data would not of itself constitute unfair use under Article 39 of the
TRIPS Agreement.570

The misappropriation approach is favourable to generic producers, in particular those in
developing countries, as they usually cannot afford to develop their own clinical test data, for
which they would have to repeat the same clinical and toxicological tests as already
undertaken by the data originator. Such tests are time consuming and expensive, and often
represent insurmountable barriers for the market entry of small producers of generic
pharmaceutical products.571

From the generic producers’ point of view, the misappropriation approach only facilitates the
regulatory approval process of bioequivalent products, but does not concern existing patent
rights that may cover the originator’s product. As the generic product is a copy of the original
one (more or less modified), the generic producer in order to submit its product to the
regulatory authority (for purposes of demonstrating bioequivalence) will rely on lawful
reverse-engineering of the patented drug in order to understand how it was formulated. It is at
this juncture that the regulatory review (Bolar) exception becomes essential to authorize the



569 For examples of “misappropriation” see Reichman, The International Legal Status, p. 142, referring to cases
where the DRA discloses the originator’s data to a local competing firm or facilitates that firm’s access to the
data in order to provide the local producer with a competitive advantage; or where the government itself or one
of its former staff exploit the commercial advantage of having access to clinical trials data.
570 However, under certain FTAs, countries may assume tighter obligations that will prevent such reliance. See
Box 12, below, for details.
571 See Pugatch, p. 100.




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use of the patented substance for regulatory purposes in order to ensure that marketing of the
generic products may be commenced on the first day after patent expiry.572

Countries such as Argentina, Canada and Israel have, in varying degrees, implemented
misappropriation regimes.573 There is no WTO jurisprudence on the TRIPS-consistency of
this approach.574 But as observed above, members diverge considerably on what they regard
as “unfair commercial use”. While some countries may consider it unfair to let second comers
take advantage of the investments made by data originators (“free riding”), other countries
may regard as unfair to impose on financially weak generic producers, in particular those in
poor developing countries or LDCs, the same requirements as those set up for multinational
pharmaceutical companies, especially where the latter may at the same time benefit from
patent protection on the respective substance and may already have entirely recouped their
R&D investment in OECD country markets. Where this is the case, data originators no longer
need to recoup any remaining costs, and there is a risk of over-compensating the data
originator at the expense of generic price competition. Finally, some societies may view as
unethical the requirement to repeat clinical tests on substances the safety and efficacy of
which has already been approved.575

The misappropriation approach, however, has been criticized for its alleged lack of
consideration for the data originator’s substantial investments in terms of time and financial
resources, and its desire to receive a fair return upon such investment.576 As a matter of fact,
even if the R&D expenses claimed by some studies were exaggerated and methodologically
problematic,577 they are still sufficiently high to prevent generic producers from undertaking
their own clinical trials. Data originators may be deterred from investing in countries not
providing any sort of protection to or compensation of their efforts.578 On the other hand,
these arguments lose considerable weight when considering that pharmaceutical companies
normally recoup the bulk of their R&D costs in OECD countries, thus not depending on
further rent extractions from developing country markets. This applies particularly in the
context of small developing countries and LDCs, whose regimes of test data protection will
have hardly any effect on investment choices by multinational enterprises.579 Irrespective of
such arguments, in practical terms the misappropriation approach as rooted in the express
language of Article 39.3 of the TRIPS Agreement has not survived in recent bilateral or
regional free trade agreements between developing and developed countries.580 This is a
considerable weakening of sovereign power, which developing country policy makers should
be aware of.



572 For more details on this exception, see above, Section 3.1.3, and the discussion of the WTO panel report on
Canada - Patent Protection of Pharmaceutical Products.
573 See Weissman, p. 153.
574 A WTO dispute initiated by the United States against Argentina for alleged breach of Article 39 of the TRIPS
Agreement was settled at the stage of consultations. See C. Correa, “Protecting Test Data for Pharmaceutical and
Agrochemical Products under Free Trade Agreements”, in Negotiating Health, pp. 81-96 (85) [hereinafter
Correa, Protecting Test Data].
575 See Correa, Protecting Test Data, p. 93, who refers to unnecessary animal suffering or death as well as human
health risks where placebo (i.e. no treatment, no cure) is used in comparative trials.
576 For an overview of the most frequently advanced arguments, see Weissman, p. 154.
577 See Pugatch, p. 98, referring to CPTech and Frank.
578 According to Pharma-Israel, the interest group representing R&D-based pharmaceutical companies in Israel,
at least 11 products for which a data exclusivity regime would be the primary means of protection have not been
registered in Israel between 2000 and 2003, see Pugatch, p. 125.
579 Weissman, p. 154.
580 Reichman, The International Legal Status, p. 146; Weissman, p. 155.




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3.5.1.2 The data exclusivity approach


This approach accommodates, to the greatest possible extent, the interests of the product/data
originators, making a market entry of generic competitors almost impossible before the lapse
of a fixed period. According to this view, the terms “unfair commercial use” under Article
39.3, TRIPS Agreement, obligate WTO members to provide the originator company with
exclusive rights in its test data for a fixed period starting from the date of approval of the
pharmaceutical chemical entity by the DRA.581 Many OECD countries follow the exclusive
rights approach, preventing for a certain amount of time their drug regulatory authorities from
relying on original test data when assessing the safety and efficacy of generic competing
products, unless the data originator gives his consent.582 It is important to reiterate that such
TRIPS-plus regime applies also and particularly to drugs that are off-patent, thus creating a
new category of exclusive rights parallel to those of the patent system.

In theory, even a regime of data exclusivity does not prevent competitors from coming up
with their own data through their own efforts, either using the original drug where it is off-
patent, or relying on an appropriate regulatory review (“Bolar”) exception, where the original
drug is still patent-protected. As mentioned before, however, it is widely recognized that this
obligation creates insurmountable barriers for generic producers in terms of financial
resources and time. Where the protected data concern off-patent substances, a data exclusivity
regime therefore erects an important new market access barrier for generic producers.

Figure 2: Market exclusivity periods generated by patents and data exclusivity
legislation



















Source: Pugatch, p. 119. The 5-year patent extension is provided under some OECD countries’ legislation to
make up for delays in the granting of marketing approvals. This is not required under the TRIPS Agreement.



581 For this view, see International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), “The
Pharmaceutical Innovation Platform - Sustaining Better Health for Patients Worldwide”, Geneva, 2004, p. 40; J.
Gorlin, “Encouragement of New Clinical Drug Development: The Role of Data Exclusivity”, IFPMA, Geneva,
2000. A similar proposal was bracketed in the pre-TRIPS Brussels Draft of December 1990 (see UNCTAD-
ICTSD Resource Book, p. 525) and subsequently dropped from the crucial Dunkel Draft of the TRIPS
Agreement (December 1991). Data exclusivity cannot therefore be considered an obligation under the TRIPS
Agreement.
582 For an overview of the pertinent Canadian, EU and United States legislation, see Pugatch, pp. 102 – 110.


Patent term = 20 Years + 5 Years Extension




Exploitation Pre-clinical / Clinical Trials NCE


0 years 20 years 25 Drug Registration


5 years DE 10 Years
DE


Data Exclusivity = 5 years
(US); 10 years (EU)




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But the impact of data exclusivity regimes on generic producers is not limited to cases of off-
patent pharmaceutical products. Data exclusivity may also complicate generic producers’
market entry where the respective product is in addition covered by a patent. Existing data
exclusivity regimes provide terms of protection of between 5 and 10 years (sometimes 15
years for agrochemical products583), which usually end before a patent on the same product
expires. Figure 2 may illustrate the parallel terms of patent and data protection in this context.


However, there are some cases where the term of protection for the test data actually reaches
beyond the term of protection offered by the patent, in particular if the development process
for a drug (i.e. the period of pre-clinical and clinical trials) is particularly long, and the term of
patent protection remaining at the moment of drug registration (i.e. marketing approval) is
shorter than the full span of data exclusivity.584 Another important case where the term of
exclusive data protection may extend beyond the term of patent protection may arise in the
context of new uses of pharmaceutical products. As discussed above, WTO members may
elect to exclude both product and process patents on new medical uses of known
pharmaceutical products, thus preventing an extension of the patent term on the same
substance. Discovering a new use may, however, require the granting of another marketing
approval for the known pharmaceutical substance. The exclusive data rights generated by
such new approval would be limited to the terms of the new approval, thus not hindering
competitors from asking the DRA to rely on the original data for approving a generic product
only for the first indicated use.585 But where the new use is not protected by a (new) patent,
the new term of exclusive data protection for the new use could effectively extend beyond the
term of protection under the initial (and only) patent. 586 This possibility is in fact
acknowledged and promoted by the United States-Morocco FTA, which expressly lays down
the Parties’ obligation to provide a three-year term of exclusive protection to “new clinical
information”, in addition to the five-year term of exclusivity for data regarding a “new
pharmaceutical […] product”.587 As to the relationship between the term of an existing patent
and the additional three-year period of data protection, footnote 12 to Article 15.10(2) of this
FTA states that:


“[…] In addition, when a product is subject to a system of marketing approval
pursuant to paragraph 2 and is also subject to a patent in the territory of that Party, the
Party shall not alter the term of protection that it provides pursuant to paragraph 2 in
the event that the patent protection terminates on a date earlier than the end of the term
of protection specified in Article 10.2.”588





583 See Correa, Protecting Test Data, p. 89, referring to the United States – DR/CAFTA FTA.
584 See Pugatch, p. 120.
585 See R. Eisenberg, “The Role Of The FDA In Innovation Policy”, Michigan Telecommunications and
Technology Law Review, Vol. 13, 2007, pp. 345 ff [hereinafter Eisenberg]. In the context of the United States-
Morocco FTA, it has been observed that such provisions could give rise to abuse by data originators, who could
claim overlaps of usages between the generic products and their own, newly approved uses, even where the
generics are only intended to cover old uses (which is possible after the expiry of the original 5-year period of
exclusivity). Legal proceedings to dismiss such claims and to distinguish between old and new uses are likely to
create further delay for market entry of generic competitors. See Abbott, Contradictory Trend, p. 11.
586 See K. Timmermans, “Monopolizing Clinical Trial Data: Implications and Trends”, PLoS Medicine Journal,
13 February 2007 [hereinafter Timmermans],
available at http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040002.
587 See Article 15.10(1) and (2) of the United States-Morocco FTA.
588 Footnote 11 to Article 1510(1) contains a comparable provision with respect to patents and the original, five-
year term of data exclusivity.




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Although it has been stated that data exclusivity rules will rarely extend beyond existing
patent terms,589 Table 5 below shows three examples of selected drugs where this was the
case.

Table 5: Patent and data exclusivity expiration periods in the United States for selected
drugs


PRODUCT Taxol (Paclitaxel) Eprex (Epeotin
Alpah)


Arava
(Leflunomide)


PURPOSE Breast Cancer /Ovarian
Cancer and others


Severe Anemia Rheumatoid
arthritis


United
StatesMARKET
APPROVAL


Discovered in 1962
Approved in 1994/1998


2000 1998


United States
Patent Expiry


-------no patent available 2004 2001


United States DE
Expiry


2004 (Orphan Drug) 2005 2003


Source: Pugatch, p. 120 (author’s own calculations based on the database of the United States Food and
Drug Administration - Center of Drug Evaluation and Research Electronic Orange Book,
www.fda.gov/cder/ob ).



Even if cases of the sort mentioned in the above table are rare, a major concern expressed
with regard to the impact of data exclusivity on patented products relates to the effectiveness
of compulsory licenses on a patented invention, when needed for public health purposes
within the ambit of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health and the
amended TRIPS provisions.590 Production of a drug under a compulsory license will still
require marketing approval from the DRA, which under data exclusivity regimes may not be
granted without permission of the data originator (see also box 12, below, on data exclusivity
under FTAs). A similar problem arises in the context of the regulatory review exception:
while it allows generic producers to use the patented substance for submission of their
application for regulatory approval, the DRA may not immediately respond by granting
approval before the expiry of the exclusive rights in the original test data (see above, Section
3.1.3), except in the unlikely event that the generic producer is capable of producing her/his
own test data.591

The data exclusivity approach has been justified as the only means to encourage R&D in new
pharmaceutical products and to guarantee the data originator a fair return to compensate for
the efforts made. 592 However, and as observed above, interpretations of what constitutes
“unfair commercial use” vary considerably among WTO members and are possibly
influenced by their national priorities. In the related area of pharmaceutical patents, many
OECD countries until the 1970s considered the copying of pharmaceutical inventions as

589 Pugatch, p. 120, referring to a 2001 study by IMS Health.
590 See Abbott/Reichman, Section F.1.
591 In the latter case, the regulatory review exception remains of crucial importance for generic producers of on-
patent products, as test data may only be developed once the structure of the respective substance has been
understood through reverse engineering of the patented product.
592 See C. Priapantja, “Trade Secret: How does this apply to drug registration data?” Paper presented at ASEAN
Workshop on the TRIPS Agreement and its Impact on Pharmaceuticals, Department of Health and World Health
Organization, May 2-4, 2000, p. 4.




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entirely fair and beneficial to their industries.593 Most importantly, proposals to expressly
include in Article 39 of the TRIPS Agreement an obligation to provide for data exclusivity
were rejected by other Parties during the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations.594
This is a clear indication that there was no international agreement to read any requirement of
data exclusivity into the terms of Article 39 of the TRIPS Agreement.595 In addition, reliance
by drug regulatory authorities on previously approved compounds for the purpose of generic
approvals was a widely recognized practice in many countries prior to the negotiation of the
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1992, which for the first time introduced
a rule on data exclusivity for pharmaceutical products on the international level.596 In the
literature, it has been observed that “it does not seem justified to suddenly label longstanding
regulatory practices as ‘unfair’.”597 Also, it is important to note that most of the approved
drugs benefit from patent protection,598 which already provides drug developers with an
important means to recoup their investment into pharmaceutical R&D. In addition, early stage
medical research is often publicly funded in OECD countries (see below, discussion on
compensatory liability regimes). 599 From this perspective, it seems questionable whether
reliance by a DRA on the test data of previously approved drugs may actually constitute
“unfair commercial use” within the meaning of Article 39 of the TRIPS Agreement.
Obligations to introduce data exclusivity rules for pharmaceutical test data, whether contained
in FTAs or other instruments, may therefore be considered as “TRIPS-plus”.600

For policymakers, it is important to understand that even under data exclusivity regimes, there
are ways to balance the interests of data originators with the need to promote the market entry
of generic competitors. Examples will be provided under the section on policy options, below.

Before discussing the third option available for domestic implementation of Article 39.3 of
the TRIPS Agreement, it is important to further highlight the impact of data exclusivity rules
on public health policies in the context of bilateral and regional free trade agreement, in which
developing countries are increasingly being involved (box 12).601

593 Many OECD countries did not introduce product patent protection for pharmaceuticals until the 1970s, see
UNCTAD-ICTSD Policy Discussion Paper.
594 For the text of this proposal, see UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, pp. 525/526, referring to the negotiating
history of Article 39 and the Brussels Draft of December 1990.
595 According to Article 32 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, preparatory work of a treaty and
the circumstances of its conclusion may be used to determine the meaning of treaty language when other means
of interpretation, such as the treaty’s express language, its object and purpose leave the meaning ambiguous. As
discussed above, the declared purpose under Article 39.3 is the protection of certain test data, but this leaves
open at least three different ways of implementing this obligation.
596 See J.H. Reichman, “Rethinking the Role of Clinical Trial Data in International Intellectual Property Law:
The Case for a Public Goods Approach”, Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2009, pp.
1-68 [hereinafter Reichman, Rethinking the Role of Clinical Trial Data].
597 See Timmermans, p. 2.
598 Reichman, Rethinking the Role of Clinical Trial Data, p. 25, footnote 154, referring to Junod. According to
that author, between 1998 and early 2004, only 27 out of 137 drugs approved by the United States Federal Drug
Authority (FDA) were developed without “substantial patent protection”.
599 Reichman, Rethinking the Role of Clinical Trial Data, p. 27, refers to “almost thirty billion dollars a year of
federal funds that the NIH spends on upstream research in order to reduce the enormous risks inherent in early
stage medical research” (citing Rai, Reichman, Uhlir, and Crosswell).
600 According to other views, allowing generic competitors to rely on the originator’s data would grant such
copiers a significant and substantial commercial advantage, as they did not have to invest the literally hundreds
of millions of dollars and years of research effort that the originator did to generate that data in the first place.
Allowing reliance on the data would constitute ‘unfair commercial use’. See IFPMA, “Data Exclusivity:
Encouraging Development of New Medicines”, Geneva, 2007.
601 For a general overview of the interface between FTAs and public health policies, see Part I, Section C of this
Guide (Introduction).




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Box 12: The protection of pharmaceutical test data in free trade agreements

The issue of clinical test data protection is one of the most prominent areas of TRIPS-plus
developments. Many FTAs concluded by the United States, the EU and EFTA contain
obligations that go beyond the TRIPS minimum standards in the area of pharmaceutical test
data protection. Examples are the United States FTAs concluded with Bahrain; the Dominican
Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA); Chile; Jordan; and
Morocco; the recent EU FTA with Colombia and Peru; and the EFTA–Chile FTA.602 In
particular, these FTAs contain express provisions on exclusive rights in clinical test data (data
exclusivity) and (in the case of the United States FTAs, as opposed to the EU’s and EFTA’s
FTAs) provide for a linkage between the drug regulatory procedures and the patent status of a
drug. In May 2007, however, the expiry of the 2002 United States Trade Promotion Authority
led to a bipartisan understanding between United States Congress and the Administration on
the ratification of outstanding trade agreements, namely with Colombia, Panama and Peru.
This understanding resulted in amendments to the latter FTAs with respect to provisions
dealing with pharmaceutical products, reflecting concerns expressed in many quarters on the
impact of those agreements on public health policies.603 These amendments will be briefly
outlined below, to the extent they concern the protection of clinical test data. Out of the three
agreements mentioned, only the United States – Peru FTA has entered into force, as of
October 2009.


a) Minimum terms of protection

Data exclusivity obligations under the United States FTAs apply to pharmaceutical and
agrochemical test data. The term of protection is generally 5 years for pharmaceutical and 10
years for agrochemical test data, starting on the date of regulatory approval.604 A similar 5-
year term of protection for pharmaceutical test data is provided under the EU FTA with
Colombia and Peru.605 Under the amended United States FTAs with Colombia, Panama and
Peru, Parties have the possibility to reduce the term of protection to less than five years where
the test data originator has not involved considerable efforts and expenditures.606

For a DRA, data exclusivity means, in general terms, the obligation not to rely directly or
indirectly on data submitted by a product originator (first comer) in the context of approval
procedures initiated by a competitor (second comer), unless the first-comer gives his consent.



602 For the EU, the FTA with Colombia and Peru is the first agreement to contain express provisions on
pharmaceutical test data exclusivity. For EFTA, the FTA with Chile does not represent a uniform approach. For
instance, the EFTA – Egypt FTA broadly refers to Article 39, TRIPS Agreement, without further specification
(Annex V, Article 3(e) of the EFTA – Egypt FTA); EFTA’s FTA with the Republic of Korea provides that
protection of undisclosed information may be provided either through exclusivity or through a regime of
compensatory liability; see Annex XIII (Article 3) to the EFTA-Republic of Korea FTA.
603 See for example, GAO Report.
604 For example, under the United States Trade Promotion Agreements concluded with Panama as well as Peru,
exclusivity is mandated for a “reasonable period” that shall normally mean five years. This suggests that five
years will be the norm but that it can be deviated from (see Article 15.10 (2) (b) United States-Panama FTA;
Article 16.10 (2) (b) United States-Peru FTA). Older United States FTAs contain less flexible language on the
term of protection.
605 Article 224.2 of the FTA EU – Colombia/Peru.
606 See e.g. Article 16.10.2 (b), United States – Peru FTA and the implementing legislation in Peru (Decreto
Legislativo 1072, Article 5). (Full text available at: http://www.ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-
agreements.) For more details, see P. Roffe and D. Vivas-Eugui, “A Shift in Intellectual Property Policy in
United States FTAs?”, Bridges Monthly Series, Vol. 11, No. 5, August 2007 (available at
http://ictsd.net/news/bridges/).




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This means that a generic producer, after showing bioequivalence between his product and the
data originator’s product, no longer has the possibility to request the DRA to grant marketing
approval either on the basis of the originator’s data in themselves (“direct reliance” on the test
data) or on the basis of the result of these data (i.e. the approval decision, “indirect reliance”
on the test data).

While such data exclusivity is limited to the domestic context, some United States FTAs
(Australia, Bahrain, DR-CAFTA, Morocco, and Singapore) also prevent a DRA from granting
approval on the basis of test data submitted by the data originator in a foreign territory (direct
reliance on the test data) or on the basis of the results in the foreign territory of such test data
(reliance on the foreign approval decision for the originator’s product).607 Thus, in cases
where the data originator has not patented and marketed his drug domestically (e.g. for lack of
patent protection at the time the drug was discovered), a generic producer cannot request the
domestic DRA to approve his drug based on a showing of bioequivalence plus reliance on the
originator’s test data submitted abroad.608 FTA parties may require the data originator, in
order to benefit from such protection, to seek marketing approval for his drug within 5 years
after obtaining marketing approval in the other territory.609 The combined terms of data
protection in the other territory (i.e. 5 years) and, subsequently, in the domestic territory (i.e.
another 5 years) may thus add up to a total term of 10 years of data exclusivity in the domestic
territory. The new United States FTA with Peru, by contrast, provides for an option to avoid
such addition of the terms of protection abroad and at home: according to this FTA, in cases
where the Peruvian registration follows a United States registration, and occurs within six
months from the United States registration, the term of exclusivity in Peru is shortened by six
months.610 This new mechanism provides the DRA with an incentive for rapid marketing
approval in the country where the drug is approved subsequently (i.e. in general Peru), in
exchange for a shorter period of effective protection in that country.

Despite this latter development, the FTAs, by conferring upon the data originator the right to
prevent the marketing of generic products through reliance by the domestic DRA on his test
data submitted at home or abroad, represent an important TRIPS-plus development vis-à-vis



607 Such foreign territory may be any third country, even those not being part of the above-mentioned FTAs.
608 See, for example, Article 15.10.1(b) of the FTA United States - DR/CAFTA.
609 Ibid.
610 Peru FTA, Article 16.10.2(c).
611 See, for instance, Article 15.10(1) and (2) of the United States – Morocco FTA.
612 See Abbott, Contradictory Trend, p. 11.
613 Abbott, Contradictory Trend, p. 8. See also P. Roffe, “Bilateral Agreements and a TRIPS-plus World: The
Chile - United States Free Trade Agreement”, QUNO TRIPS Issue Papers No. 4, Geneva 2004, p. 26, who
observes that under the United States - Chile FTA, the link between marketing approval and the consent of the
patent holder is less explicit and, unlike CAFTA, does not include references to marketing approvals in other
countries.
614 Abbott, Contradictory Trend, p. 8. Acknowledging these concerns, the linkage requirement was made
optional under the more recent FTAs between the United States and Panama; as well as Peru.
615 See UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book, Chapter 28, p. 537. On this particular issue, USTR has replied to
Congress that the data protection provisions in FTAs would not stand in the way of compulsory licensing.
616 See United States FTC Study and EU Pharmaceutical Sector Inquiry.
617 See Article 16.10.2(d) and 16.10.4 of the United States – Peru FTA.
618 See Article 4, Decreto Legislativo 1074 of 28 June 2008.
619 See United States-Peru FTA, Article 16.10.3.
620 According to the revised version of the FTA with Peru, a Party may comply with this clause by providing a
period of marketing exclusivity for the first applicant to successfully challenge the validity or applicability of the
patent (footnote 18 of chapter 16 of the FTA).
621 In the case of the FTA with Peru, see Article 16.10.2.(e) and Article 16.13.2(a)(b).




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the TRIPS minimum standard under Article 39.3.

On top of a 5-year term of exclusivity protection, some United States FTAs (Bahrain,
Morocco) require another 3 years of exclusivity for new clinical information, i.e. previously
unapproved uses of approved products. 611 For these new uses, there may be neither
recognition of prior foreign approvals nor an independent bioequivalence examination by the
DRA based on the original data, unless the data originator gives his consent. This provision
may be seen as helping data originators “evergreen” their exclusive rights by preventing the
market entry of generic competitors. Data originators might claim overlaps of usages between
the generic products and their own, newly approved uses, even where the generics are only
intended to cover old uses (which is possible after the expiry of the original 5-year period of
exclusivity). Legal proceedings to dismiss such claims and to distinguish between old and
new uses are likely to create further delay for market entry of generic competitors.612


b) Linkage between regulatory procedures and patent rights

While the above observations particularly concern non-patented pharmaceutical and
agrochemical products, most of the United States-sponsored FTAs also contain a provision
that is likely to have an important impact with respect to patented pharmaceutical and
agrochemical products. Many of these FTAs establish a link between the regulatory approval
procedure and the patent right covering the respective product. For instance, Chapter 15,
Article 15.10.2 of the DR-CAFTA provides:


“2. Where a Party permits, as a condition of approving the marketing of a
pharmaceutical product, persons, other than the person originally submitting
safety or efficacy information, to rely on evidence or information concerning
the safety and efficacy of a product that was previously approved, such as
evidence of prior marketing approval in the territory of a Party or in another
country, that Party:


(a) shall implement measures in its marketing approval process to prevent
such other persons from marketing a product covered by a patent
claiming the previously approved product or its approved use during the
term of that patent, unless by consent or acquiescence of the patent owner;
and


(b) shall provide that the patent owner shall be informed of the request and the
identity of any such other person who requests approval to enter the market
during the term of a patent identified as claiming the approved product or its
approved use.” (emphasis added)


In other words, the decision by regulatory authorities to grant marketing approval is made
dependent on the authorization of the patent holder (paragraph (a), as quoted above), thus
linking the separate realms of drug regulation and patent law, as already discussed in the
context of the regulatory review exception. Thereby, the term of data protection is effectively
extended to the full term of a patent, which is not required under TRIPS.613 In addition, the
main burden of enforcing private patent rights is shifted away from the patent holder to the
state, i.e. the regulatory authority, which often lacks any means and experience in evaluating
the patent status of a drug.

As in the case of data exclusivity, “linkage” provisions like the one quoted above have been




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interpreted as possibly precluding governments’ possibilities to use compulsory licensing as a
means of making available low-priced pharmaceutical products.614 Since marketing approval
is independent of patent law, the third party authorized to produce a patented product under
compulsory license would arguably depend on the patentee’s consent or acquiescence for the
actual marketing of the product.615 In addition, a linkage requirement as promoted under some
FTAs deprives generic producers of the opportunity to challenge poor quality patents in patent
infringement litigation. Such litigation is contingent upon receiving regulatory approval to
market the generic copy of the patented product. Providing the possibility to challenge poor
quality patents is an important means to ensure competitiveness and innovation in the
pharmaceutical industry. As stated above, both the United States Federal Trade Commission
and the European Commission have found that generic competitors prevail in a majority of
patent litigation cases.616


The new United States FTAs with Peru, Colombia and Panama make linkage optional and in
particular do not require that regulatory authorities withhold approval of a generic until they
can certify that no patent would be violated if the generic were marketed.617 Peru has taken
advantage of this option in its implementing legislation.618

Instead, the revised FTAs require parties to provide procedures and remedies (judicial or
administrative proceedings, including injunctions or equivalent effective provisional
measures) for adjudicating expeditiously any disputes regarding patent infringement or
validity that arise with respect to a product for which marketing approval is sought.619 The
revised texts also require greater transparency in these procedures, calling on parties to the
FTA to make available: a) an expeditious procedure to challenge the validity or applicability
of the patent (so as to break the ‘link’, where applicable) and b) effective rewards for a
successful challenge to the validity or applicability of the patent.620 In other words, the revised
FTAs seek to balance the rights of patent holders with opportunities for generic producers to
challenge patented products that might prevent competing products from entering the market.
They shift the primary responsibility for patent enforcement back to the patent owner.

c) The “side letters” or “understandings” with respect to the TRIPS/Health solution

Being aware of public concerns about the impact of FTAs on countries’ abilities to promote
enhanced access to medicines, the Parties to the United States FTAs with Bahrain, the DR-
CAFTA countries and Morocco agreed on “side letters” or “understandings”. According to
these documents, the IP standards as contained in the respective FTAs do not affect the
Parties’ ability to protect public health.

Departing from the earlier United States FTAs, the amended texts of the Colombia, Panama
and Peru agreements call on the parties, in the main text and not in side letters or
understandings, to affirm their commitments to the Doha Declaration, particularly
emphasizing that the provisions on data exclusivity should be subordinated to the right of a
party to take measures to protect public health. The revised texts further oblige the parties to
respect existing waivers granted by WTO members regarding provisions of the TRIPS
Agreement.621 These changes put both the Doha Declaration and existing waivers on the same
level as other provisions in the FTAs, thus facilitating pro-public health interpretations of the
provisions on regulated products, as well as other sections of the FTA.





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3.5.1.3 The compensatory liability or cost-sharing approach


The “compensatory liability” or “cost-sharing” option seeks political acceptance on the part of
OECD governments by offering fair compensation of the data originators’ efforts without the
barriers to market entry and other anti-competitive effects occasioned by the data exclusivity
approaches. It also promotes the immediate availability of pre-existing test data for the
purpose of registering generic copies of the originator drug on the basis of bioequivalence and
reliance upon the relevant medical literature (i.e. the outcome of the originator’s submission
of clinical trials data).622

The compensatory liability option has particular relevance for those developing countries
engaged in negotiating bilateral or regional free trade agreements with OECD countries, and it
responds to developing country governments’ concerns about the public health impact of data
exclusivity regimes. Some of the FTAs by EFTA, such as the agreements with the Republic of
Korea and Lebanon, expressly provide for a compensatory liability regime as an alternative to
the exclusive protection of test data.623

The compensatory liability or cost sharing option enables countries to address pressures from
other governments by providing that reasonable compensation be paid to the data originators
for a specified period of time by any generic producer who relies directly or indirectly upon
the research outcomes those data establish. At the same time, any generic producer would
have an automatic right to rely upon the originator’s test data for this purpose. Originator
firms would have no exclusive rights in their data and could not block the granting of
marketing approvals to generic competitors based on such data. Once the cost-sharing
approach is taken seriously, there are at least three known approaches to implementing it.

Approach No 1: the FIFRA Model
One approach, put forward by Weissman, builds upon experience gained under the United
States law known as the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which
has long instituted an actual cost-sharing regime for test data results pertaining to pesticides



622 For details, see Weissman; and Reichman, The International Legal Status.
623See Annex XIII (Article 3) to the EFTA-Republic of Korea FTA.“The Parties shall protect undisclosed
information in accordance with Article 39 of the TRIPS Agreement. The Parties shall prevent applicants for
marketing approval for pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical products from relying on undisclosed test or
other undisclosed data, the origination of which involves a considerable effort, submitted by the first applicant to
the competent authority for marketing approval for pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical products, utilizing
new chemical entities, for an adequate number of years from the date of approval, except where approval is
sought for original products. Any Party may instead allow in their national legislation applicants to rely on
such data if the first applicant is adequately compensated.” (Emphasis added.) However, it needs to be
pointed out that under the United States–Republic of Korea FTA (Section 18.9.1), which was pending
congressional approval as of early 2010, the same option is not available, data exclusivity being mandatory.
According to the most-favoured nation clause of the TRIPS Agreement (Article 4), the Republic of Korea will
have to extend the same level of protection of pharmaceutical test data to any other country, including the EFTA
countries. For Lebanon, see Article 4 of Annex 5 to the EFTA-Lebanon FTA. “The Parties to this Agreement
shall protect undisclosed information in accordance with Article 39 TRIPS. The Parties shall prevent applicants
for marketing approval for pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemical products from relying on or referring to
undisclosed test or other undisclosed data submitted by prior applicants to the competent approval authorities of
the respective Parties for a period, from the date of approval, of at least six years, except where approval is
sought for original products, or unless the first applicant is adequately compensated.” (Emphasis added.)




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and certain other chemical products.624 Weissman’s approach takes account of the following
elements:625


 The actual cost of producing the data (this obliges the data originator to disclose and
document the actual costs of data generation).626 The costs of developing a clinical test
data file will normally arise in OECD markets, where the data originator normally
seeks first marketing approval. In addition, originators may claim a risk premium to
reflect possible failures in initial testing over time. Finally, the system may also
provide an obligation by generic producers to pay compensation to the data originator
for the benefit of early market entry (as compared to the amount of time needed in
case of independent replication of clinical trials).


 The proportionate global market share allocated to the generic competitors: the cost
share to be paid is apportioned to each national market, on the basis of market size and,
preferably, relative ability to pay. 627



In order to avoid over-compensation of data originators, limitations and caps have been
suggested under this approach.628 Much depends, however, on the theoretical justification for
data exclusivity, which remains controversial and altogether lacking in consensus.629



On one theory, such a regime merely compensates for lost revenue, due to the fact that a
patent was never granted in a specific territory, or if granted, was given only for a relatively
short duration. On this principle, the existence of a patent in a given territory would free the
government from any obligation to compensate the originator patentee for indirect reliance on
his clinical test data because the returns guaranteed by the exclusive patent right would be
deemed sufficient to compensate the inventor and data originator for all relevant costs of
R&D. It is true that the development of a new chemical entity (NCE) and the related
application for a patent precede activities related to the development of pre-clinical and
clinical trials data related to the regulatory approval process (see above, Figure 2). Costs
incurred to prepare the clinical test data file for the DRA may therefore differ from those costs
incurred for the preparation of the patent application with the patent office.

However, as illustrated in figure 2, above, the term of the patent will usually expire after the
data exclusivity term, especially where the patent has been extended to compensate for
lengthy regulatory approval processes or the patent granting process. As the patent provides a
powerful tool for the inventor to recoup both the investment for the invention and for the test
data (especially when based on broad structural or functional claims),630 several years of



624 See Weissman, pp. 156-159. The FIFRA provides for a cost-sharing system after a 10-year period of data
exclusivity. This cost-sharing system has been efficiently administered through arbitration, independently of the
preceding exclusivity period.
625 Ibid, pp. 155-163.
626 According to some stakeholders present at the UNCTAD peer review meeting, companies would be very
reluctant to disclose any commercially sensitive information.
627 The importance of the ability to pay has been emphasized by A.X. Fellmeth, “Secrecy, Monopoly, and Access
to Pharmaceuticals in International Trade Law: Protection of Marketing Approval Data Under the TRIPs
Agreement”, Harvard International Law Journal, Vol. 45, 2004, pp. 442 ff. [hereinafter Fellmeth].
628 Weissman, p. 155.
629 Reichman, Rethinking the Role of Clinical Trial Data.
630 See above, Section 2.5.1.3, referring to EPO jurisprudence, according to which product patent protection
extends to all possible ways of manufacturing the product as well as to all possible ways of using the product,
even uses that at the date of filing of the patent application were unknown to the inventor. Structural claims of
similar width are available under German patent law, see Ensthaler, p. 120.




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market exclusivity in addition to revenues generated by a patent in the pharmaceutical sector
could yield far more than the costs actually incurred for pharmaceutical R&D.631



Other scholars have tried, however, to justify data exclusivity regimes on various theories,
supporting the case for an independent reward over and above that provided by the patent
system as such.632 While these theories are extremely controversial and some remain skeptical
of them,633 they cannot be ignored. Hence, the proposed cap based on an existing patent may
not satisfy FTA trade negotiators, for example, to alleviate other trade pressures.

In any event, Weissman’s approach has been designed to incorporate two further limitations
to the generic producers’ obligation to compensate the data originator:634


 To the extent that the sales benefits made by the data originator reach a certain
multiple (e.g. 20 times) of the costs required to generate the data, the data originator
loses his rights to claim further compensation.


 The right to compensation expires after a certain amount of time (e.g. 5 years),
counted from the date of marketing approval granted to the data originator.


 To this list we would add an additional limitation, namely that the reasonable royalty
should not be based on market size alone, as in Weissman’s model, but should also be
adjusted for GDP per capita ability to pay.635 Generic producers in poor countries
cannot be subject to the same criteria as generic producers in OECD countries. Taking
into account the fact that data originators obtain large returns from sales in OECD
countries, the data originator would otherwise obtain preferential windfall gains
accrued from sales in poor markets, at the expense of struggling generic producers
based in developing countries.



Approach No 2: Various Royalty Models and Ability to Pay
Since Weissman’s proposals in 2003, which may be seen as providing support to Reichman’s
advocacy of a cost-sharing alternative, another scholar, Fellmeth, has devised an elegant but
still more complicated set of fairness formulas. 636 Drawing on the law and economics
literature, Fellmeth analyzes several different models, including a “Simple Divisions
Royalties Model” and a more sophisticated “Readjustable Royalties Model”, which takes into
account such factors as the initial costs of R&D, the time value of money, the number of
participants in the scheme, and their ability to pay.637



Approach No 3: Standard Royalty and Ability to Pay
The difficulty with both of these approaches, however, is that determining the true costs of
pharmaceutical R&D for any purpose, especially drug price negotiations, has proved a
daunting task that has not been satisfactorily resolved to date. An illustration of these
difficulties is provided by a noteworthy 2008 report by the OECD on pharmaceutical pricing
policies. 638 A fortiori, developing countries’ authorities would face major difficulties in
determining the R&D costs occurring on the part of the data originator. In addition, it is

631 Weissman, p. 165; Reichman, Rethinking the Role of Clinical Trial Data, p. 41.
632 See, for instance, Eisenberg, p. 345.
633 Reichman, Rethinking the Role of Clinical Trial Data.
634 See Weissman, p. 155.
635 See Fellmeth, pp. 478-500.
636 Ibid.
637 Ibid.
638 OECD, Pharmaceutical Pricing Policies in a Global Market, September 2008 (executive summary available at
www.oecd.org/document/36/0,3343,en_2649_33929_41000996_1_1_1_37407,00.html).




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nearly impossible to determine how much of the expenses incurred by the data originator has
been recouped in developed country markets.

For this reason, a simple approach may also be worth considering. On this approach,
governments willing to adopt the cost-sharing model would simply take the cost of production
of the generic producer as a proxy for determining the amount of compensation due to the
data originator. They would obligate a generic producer to pay to the data originator a
standard royalty above marginal costs of generic production for any period established to
compensate for marketing approval based on the health authority’s reliance on an originator’s
clinical test data results. Given that Canada used to impose a standard royalty of 4 per cent of
the net selling price of the drug in final dosage form on a licensee of right to use patented
pharmaceuticals until 1992,639 and given that most data originators will recoup the bulk of
their R&D expenses in developed countries anyway, a royalty comprising the generic
producer’s own marginal costs of production plus 1–3 per cent of these costs, depending upon
GDP per capita ability to pay, would seem more than sufficient. While such an approach
would give only an approximation of the real costs of the originator’s R&D, it would avoid
the transaction costs and possibly endless litigation that more complicated models might
induce. Finally, it would also be limited in time, for instance to five years, during which the
data originator would be entitled to claim compensation. Unless made impossible under the
provisions of an FTA, cost-sharing models may also be limited in their scope to drugs that are
off-patent, taking into account the fact that the patentee is likely to recoup all of his expenses
on the basis of a patent.


3.5.2 Policy options


Against the above background, developing countries seeking to implement a regime of test
data protection may wish to consider the following issues:


 If the country is involved in the negotiation of a regional or bilateral free trade
agreement with a developed country, counter-offering a cost-sharing approach would
possibly represent a feasible option and, from a public health and local production
point of view, a more balanced alternative to data exclusivity options. An example for
this option is the EFTA–Republic of Korea FTA.


 If the country is not involved in such negotiations, it is important to define the national
priorities in this context.


o Certain advanced developing countries may be the home of successful generic
companies that actively pursue medical R&D and bear corresponding costs, in
particular for the generation of test data submitted to OECD-based DRAs. The
introduction of a cost-sharing regime instead of a misappropriation approach
would nevertheless not seem to be compelling, as developing country
producers could recoup all of their costs in OECD markets, benefiting from
expansive patent and test data exclusivity regimes in these jurisdictions. In the
domestic context, a misappropriation approach would seem to be the most
beneficial option to promote generic competition in these developing countries.


o Poor developing countries and LDCs with producers that are unable to engage
in much R&D but mainly copy and re-assemble existing drugs should avoid an
obligation beyond that of Article 39.3, TRIPS Agreement (i.e. a



639 See Reichman/Hasenzahl, Canadian Experience, pp. 10, 37. This figure rose to 6 per cent in the early 1990s,
see ibid, p. 37.




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misappropriation regime). If bilateral pressure for TRIPS-plus approaches
becomes irresistible, they may consider a cost-sharing regime, but it is likely
that the burden on local producers would be too high.


 If a country has to go beyond the cost-sharing approach and adopts a regime of data
exclusivity under constraint of an FTA or in response to overwhelming bargaining
power, there are various ways to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of such a
system on local generic producers and drugs availability:640


o Exclusivity may be restricted to data on new chemical entities, excluding data
on new indications, new methods of administering drugs, or new dosages.
Chile and Egypt have followed this approach,641 and Switzerland provides
reduced terms of exclusivity for reformulated versions of existing drugs. Under
certain FTAs, such as the one between the United States and Morocco, or the
United States and Bahrain, such an approach is not possible, due to an
obligation to provide exclusive protection to new clinical information (see box
12, above).


o Countries may specify that the term of data protection shall not reach beyond
the term of a parallel patent on the same substance. This possibility used to be
expressly provided under European Community (EC) legislation and has been
implemented by Greece, Portugal and Spain.642 This approach is expressly
prevented under certain FTAs.643


o Exclusivity may be restricted to undisclosed information, as opposed to
information publicly available.644 This is also provided for under Article 39,
TRIPS Agreement.


o Exclusivity may be waived in case of compulsory licensing of patented
pharmaceutical inventions. This is the approach taken by Chile under the FTA
with the United States. 645 In this context, it should be noted that Chile’s
approach to the implementation of test data protection has been one of the
main reasons for the January 2007 decision by the USTR to include Chile on
the Priority Watch List of countries considered to show serious shortcomings
in the protection or enforcement of IPRs.646 On the other hand, the more recent
United States – Peru FTA contains an understanding that the FTA obligations,
such as the introduction of data exclusivity, should be interpreted in a manner
supportive to promote access to medicines and should not stand in the way of



640 For details, see Weissman, pp. 165-177; and Timmermans.
641 Timmermans, p. 3, referring to R. Weissman (“Public health-friendly options for protecting pharmaceutical
registration data”. International Journal of Intellectual Property Management 2006, No. 1, pp. 113–130); and to
Government of Chile, Industrial Property Law No 19.039 modified by Law 19.996 of 2005.
642 Timmermans, referring to Directive 2001/83/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6
November 2001 on the Community Code Relating to Medicinal Products for Human Use. Official Journal of the
European Communities; and to P. Ranson “Data protection in the pharmaceutical industry”. J Gen Med 1, 2003,
pp. 48–56.
643 See United States – Morocco, footnote 12 to Article 15.10(2).
644 Weissman, p. 168. Under some FTAs, even test data that has been publicly available may be subject to
exclusive protection provided it concerns a chemical entity that has not been previously approved by the
domestic DRA. See Article 15:10(1)(c) of the DR/CAFTA – United States FTA, and Abbott, Contradictory
Trend, pp. 7/8. As opposed to Article 39.3, TRIPS Agreement, the decisive criterion for the novelty of the
chemical entity is not whether it has been available to the public before, but whether it has been previously
approved by the DRA.
645 For details, see P. Roffe, “Intellectual Property Provisions in Bilateral and Regional Trade Agreements: the
Challenges of Implementation”, CIEL, Geneva, 2006 [hereinafter Roffe, 2006].
646 See P. Roffe, “Chile and the Priority Watch List: Some Considerations”, Bridges Monthly Series, no.11/2,
Geneva, April 2007, p. 18 (available at: http://www.iprsonline.org/ictsd/news/bridges11-2.pg18-19.pdf).The
legality of such challenges has been questioned, see Abbott/Reichman, pp. 980-981.




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


182


an effective utilization of the Paragraph 6 solution on compulsory licensing for
exportation to countries lacking pharmaceutical manufacturing capacities (see
also above, box 12).647


o In a related context, health authorities may waive data exclusivity when this is
deemed in the interest of public health. The EU’s domestic implementation of
the WTO 30 August 2003 Decision/draft Article 31bis system provides for a
waiver of data exclusivity in case of a compulsory license for the production
for export of drugs to countries lacking domestic pharmaceutical
manufacturing capacities.648


o A compulsory license on protected test data may be automatically issued
whenever a third party seeks market authorization for a product equivalent to
the originator’s product. This would be comparable to the cost-sharing/use-
and-pay approach, but would not be in line with those FTAs that require the
Parties to introduce exclusive rights in test data.649


o Exclusivity may be waived in case the respective product is already covered by
a patent. Again, such approach would not be compatible with those FTAs
requiring exclusive test data protection, as such protection has to be granted to
any product, irrespective of its patent status.650


o The term for data exclusivity may be shortened. See above for the example of
Switzerland regarding limitations in protection to new chemical entities. Many
of the FTAs requiring exclusive test data protection provide for a mandatory
minimum period of protection of five years or more. An exception is, again,
the recent United States – Peru FTA, which leaves Parties free to reduce the
five-year term of protection in cases where the generation of the data has not
required considerable efforts and expenditures (see box 12, above).


o Countries may condition the granting of data exclusivity on the quick domestic
registration of the drug after the first marketing approval has been obtained
abroad. Chile has issued regulations according to which failure to register a
new drug within one year after obtaining the first global marketing approval
will disqualify the drug from data exclusivity in Chile.651


o The start date of the exclusivity period may be referred to the first registration
of the product worldwide. Some FTAs like CAFTA and United States – Peru,
however, specify that the period of exclusive protection to be provided in a
country must be counted from the date when marketing approval is granted in
that country.652



While a number of the suggestions listed above are not necessarily in line with many of the
older United States FTAs, more recent approaches to test data protection under the United
States – Peru FTA and the EFTA – Republic of Korea FTA show considerably more
flexibility to allow Parties a public health-oriented FTA implementation.



647 See Articles 16.10.2.(e) and 16.13.2(a)(b) of the United States – Peru FTA.
648 Timmermans, referring to Regulation (EC) No 816/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17
May 2006 on Compulsory Licensing of Patents relating to the Manufacturing of Pharmaceutical Products for
Export to Countries with Public Health Problems. Official Journal of the European Union.
649 See Weissman, p. 173.
650 Ibid, p. 171.
651 Roffe, 2006; Timmermans, referring to Government of Chile, Industrial Property Law No 19.039 modified by
Law 19.996 of 2005.
652 See Article 15.10.1(a) CAFTA; Article 16.10.2.(b) United States – Peru.




Reference Guide to IPRs and Pharmaceutical Production in Developing Countries


183


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