[A2k] Gurry's statement: WIPO Policy on COVID and IP

Sean Flynn sflynn at wcl.american.edu
Wed Apr 8 15:12:43 PDT 2020

WIPO DG Francis Gurry has responded to the demand of many to address IP policy issues being raised by the global response to the COVID-19 epidemic. His response is that WIPO is not prepared to lead.

At the very end of his hour-long address yesterday, he shifted to what he called the “policy issues” raised by the pandemic. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-patents/u-n-agency-says-coronavirus-emergency-could-trump-some-patent-rights-idUSKBN21P1PZ

“Some of the questions that are arising are rather of a policy nature. I think it is far too early to make any reflections on this. Because we are really beginning in many respects of this crisis.” 56:06

He went on to list one “Policy consideration of an immediate nature” which is the protection of IP of small start ups.

“We are going to depend on start ups for innovation … some countries are considering delay of fees . . . to ensure that IP is protected despite lack of liquidity. . . . So this is another sort of policy consideration of an immediate nature we are looking at.” 57:00

He subsequently turned briefly and as the last item of his hour long presentation to the issue seen as the most urgent IP issue to most.

“Questions are going to be asked about access to medical supplies, access to medicines, and this is another major policy area for reflection that is almost certain to emerge from the current crisis and we are seeing activity at the national level in many countries. As I said, I think that at this stage it is premature to have any firm views about this matter. We are at the early stages of our understanding. But just to reassure you, we are reflecting on this and watching this with great attention and trying to stimulate an international discussion about some of the elements that we can see.” 57:59

He did not address at all the IP issues involved in text and data mining research that discovered the spreading coronavirus and is being used to search for its cure. Nor did he address the IP barriers being faced to online education around the world.

Our letter to Gurry asking him to address these topics remains open for signature. We will continue using it to ask that he engage these issues. We will also be sending it to DG Designate Daren Tang. Add your voice and share with your networks:
Gurry COVID Letter https://tinyurl.com/GurryCorona

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