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

H.E. Ambassador Dr. Lansana GBERIE
United States of America
59.   The previous interventions of the United States of America on the 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 in supporting economic recovery. 60.   In past meetings, the United States highlighted the US Patent and Trademark Office COVID-19 pilot program which prioritizes examination of certain patent applications claiming a product or process subject to an applicable FDA approval for COVID-19 use, and a companion Fast-Track Pilot Program for Appeals Related to COVID-19. 61.   As of 21 June 2022, 961 applications have requested prioritized examination status in the USPTO's COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program, 623 of which have thus far been granted. The pilot program was originally set to expire after the USPTO accepted 500 applications into the program, but this application limit has been removed. The pilot will include all qualifying patent applications received by midnight eastern time on 30 June 2022. 62.   Also, as mentioned previously, in 2021 the USPTO launched a category of its Patents for Humanity Program for inventions that address the COVID-19 pandemic. The winners will be announced for this program by fall 2022. The United States Copyright Office also made adjustments in response to the pandemic. To assist creators affected by the pandemic, the Copyright Office temporarily adjusted statutory deadlines for copyright owners under the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act). The CARES Act authorized the Register of Copyrights to temporarily adjust statutory deadlines for copyright owners and other affected parties if she determined that a national emergency declared by the president was generally disrupting the normal operation of the copyright system. 63.   Several adjustments were made. For example, adjustments allowed affected copyright owners to receive additional time to register a work in order to be eligible for certain remedies in infringement actions, provided additional time for submitting documentation for certain statutory licenses and termination notices, and authorized 'secure tests', which are handled under special registration rules, to include tests normally administered at specified centres but temporarily administered remotely.
The Council so agreed. The Council took note of the information provided and the statements made; and agreed to revert to this item at its next meeting.
11. The Chair recalled that this item had been discussed in the Council since its informal open-ended meeting on 19 June 2020 and had remained on the Council's agenda at its formal meetings since then.
12. The item was on the agenda to facilitate exchange of views on measures undertaken as the pandemic persisted, and the Chair referred to the compilation "COVID-19: Measures Regarding Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights" on 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. That the list was being updated continuously, even if the rate at which new measures were brought to the attention of the Council had slowed considerably since the last meeting. He encouraged Members to inform the Secretariat of any measures which should be included on the list, as well as any update or information on the expiry – or end of application – of such measures.
13. The Chair recalled that paragraph 5 of the Decision on the TRIPS Agreement agreed at the 12th Ministerial Conference (WT/MIN(22)/30) required Members to "communicate to the Council for TRIPS any measure related to the implementation of the Decision, including the granting of an authorization" as soon as possible after the adoption of the measure. Depending on the nature of measures that Members might adopt under the TRIPS Decision, there could be an overlap between such communications and notifications of laws and regulations under Article 63.2, which were being covered under item 1. To the extent that this was not the case, he suggested that the Council provide an update on such communications under this agenda item in the future.
14. The Chair further noted that paragraph 24 of the Declaration on the WTO Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Preparedness for Future Pandemics agreed at the 12th Ministerial Conference (WT/MIN(22)/31) read: "Relevant WTO bodies would, within their fields of competence, and on the basis of proposals by Members, continue or initiate work as soon as possible, to analyse lessons that had been learned and challenges experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. A stocktaking exercise would be taken of the work by WTO bodies under this declaration yearly at the General Council until the end of 2024, based on the reports of those relevant bodies."
15. He suggested that, as the Council had already initiated discussions on COVID-19-related experiences in the field of IP under this agenda item since June 2020, delegations continue these exchanges, as directed by paragraph 24 of the Declaration, and that the Council would treat any proposals that Members might make in this regard under this item.
16. The representatives of South Africa; China; Sri Lanka; Pakistan; and the United States took the floor.
17. The Chair proposed to revert to the item at the next meeting to ensure that the exchanges could continue, including on the basis of the following:
a. the updated Secretariat compilation of COVID-19 related IP measures,
b. any communications that might be received from Members under paragraph 5 of the MC12 TRIPS Decision, and
c. any proposals Members might wish to make in the context of paragraph 24 of the WTO Declaration on Pandemic Response.
18. The Chair further suggested to rename the item as "IP and COVID-19" for the next Council meeting, in light of the different matters being covered by this item.
19. The Council so agreed. The Council took note of the information provided and the statements made; and agreed to revert to this item at its next meeting.
IP/C/M/105, IP/C/M/105/Add.1, IP/C/M/105/Corr.1