Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

H.E. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli (Norway)
United States of America
46.   The previous interventions of the United States on the agenda item concerning IP measures in the context of COVID-19 stand. As stated previously, intellectual property plays an incentivizing role in the development of new technologies to combat this deadly pandemic and supporting economic recovery. 47.   In past meetings, the US highlighted the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) COVID19 pilot programme which prioritizes examination of certain patent applications claiming a product or process subject to an applicable Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval for COVID19 use, and a companion Fast-Track Pilot Program for Appeals Related to COVID-19. As of 28 September 2021, 505 applications have been granted prioritized examination status in the USPTO's COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program, and as of 2 August 2021, 120 patents have issued from applications granted priority status under this pilot programme. 48.   The pilot programme was originally set to expire after the USPTO accepted 500 applications into the programme. As of 16 August 2021, the USPTO had accepted 476 applications into the programme, and there were 52 requests to participate that had not yet been acted upon. To ensure that applicants are not refused access to the pilot programme due to delays in the USPTO's consideration, the USPTO has modified the programme to consider any requests filed on or before 31 December 2021, even if an applicant's request has not been acted upon until after the USPTO has accepted 500 requests. The USPTO would evaluate whether to terminate or extend the programme during this extension period. Further information on the USPTO's initiatives on life science technologies can be found on the page of USPTO.gov. 49.   In addition, earlier this year the USPTO launched a category of its Patents for Humanity Program for inventions that address the COVID-19 pandemic. This would provide business incentives for patent applicants, holders, and licences whose inventions track, prevent, diagnose, or treat COVID-19. 50.   Patents for Humanity Award winners receive a certificate to accelerate USPTO processing for one eligible matter (such as an ex parte re-examination proceeding or a patent application), as well as public recognition of innovation that benefits humanity. Award winners may also transfer their acceleration certificates to third parties, including for compensation, and can leverage the acceleration certificate to obtain funds to help commercialize their inventions, transforming innovative ideas into deliverable goods and services. 51.   The application period for the new category ended on 30 September 2021 and the USPTO is currently judging phase of this programme. For more information about the programme, we encourage to visit the on the USPTO website.
20. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to this item at its next meeting.
14. The Chair recalled that this agenda item had been discussed in the Council since its informal open-ended meeting in June 2020 and had been on the Council's agenda at its formal meetings since then. In light of broad support – in principle – for a continuation of these exchanges at the Council's last meetings, the item was on the agenda to facilitate exchange of views on measures undertaken as the pandemic persists.
15. He referred to the compilation "COVID-19: Measures Regarding Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights" that was available from the WTO website, which contained a non-exhaustive list of IP-related measures taken in the context of COVID-19, compiled by the Secretariat from official sources and verified by the Members concerned. This list was updated continuously, even if the rate at which new measures are brought to the attention of the Secretariat was slowing down. He thanked those Members that had informed the Secretariat of measures that should be included in this list, as well as any update or information on the expiry – or end of application – of such measures, and encouraged others to do the same.
16. The Chair recalled that in earlier meetings of the Council and at the General Council, a number of Members had asked the Secretariat to provide and compile data on the number of voluntary license agreements regarding COVID-19 vaccine production over time, and on the projected and observed volume of vaccine dose production under these agreements. At the Council's June 2021 meeting, the Secretariat had presented an initial set of data from different sources under this agenda item. The Chair invited the Secretariat to provide an update on the data compilation.
17. The Secretariat took the floor to present document RD/IP/45.
18. The representatives of the European Union; the United States; Switzerland and South Africa took the floor.
19. The Chair thanked the Secretariat. In view of the continued interest on this agenda item, he proposed that the Council agree to revert to the item at its next meeting, so that the exchanges can once again take place, including on the basis of the updated Secretariat document of COVID-19 related IP measures.
20. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to this item at its next meeting.
IP/C/M/103, IP/C/M/103/Add.1, IP/C/M/Rev.1