Monday miscellany Part 2

The Kats say "thanks". Readers of this weblog in recent times cannot have missed the posts on the Unitary Patent System, the Unified Patent Court and the debate which has raged among the readers of those posts.  What they may not have noticed, however, is the huge amount of effort which the AmeriKat (Annsley) has expended in researching, writing, dealing with comments and emails and generally seeking to inform, to educate, to stir and to provoke this weblog's readership into obtaining a greater understanding of the issues and into engaging in discussion of them.  Annsley has done this while juggling a full workload and battling with illness. All the IPKat, Merpel and their colleagues can say is "thanks so much -- and well done!"

Around the blogs. The 1709 Blog, which specialises in copyright law, practice and commercial issues, welcomes two new team members. The first is Eleonora Roseati. Eleonora is an Italian-qualified lawyer (avvocato), who collaborates with the IP department of Bird&Bird in Milan. She is also a researcher in IP at the European University Institute in Florence, where she is about to complete her doctoral thesis on What Future for EU Copyright: Harmonisation through Case Law (and Legislation?). A law graduate from the University of Florence, Eleonora holds an LLM from the University of Cambridge. Passionate about copyright almost since her first appearance as a derivative work from her parents, she is delighted to have the opportunity to join the team of the 1709 Blog and to report juicy copyright-related news from Italy and beyond. The second is Asim Singh.  Asim, an intellectual property practitioner based in Paris, has his own IP boutique practice, Cabinet Singh.  The two new appointments, which strengthen the 1709 Blog's coverage of copyright and related rights from a civil law perspective, follows the recent return to the team of Amanda Harcourt, and coincides with a surge in activity in the field of copyright in Europe and beyond.

Chanel has obtained a wonderful contra mundum ("against the World") injunction from the Nevada District court which, reports the IPKat's friend Andy Johnstone, makes the Newzbin2 order look like kid's stuff.  The problem dealt with by the court was Chanel's need for whack-a-mole relief against pestiferous websites from which fake products are easily sold: the solution is a temporary restraining order ('TRO'). Details can be found via Eric Goldman's Technology and Marketing Law Blog here and on Ars Technica here.  The full text of the order is here.  Adds Andy, what is interesting is the order to Google and others to de-list the offending sites. How feasible is this, he wonders.

From Dr Burcu Kilic (Global Access to Medicines Program, Public Citizen) comes a reminder that the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health is now ten years old -- but that its benefits don't float down from the skies: they have to be worked for.  Burcu writes:
"The Doha Declaration aimed to establish a fair balance between the need for access to medicine and and protecting patents, copyrights, and trade marks. It was a strong political statement noting that health and pharmaceuticals is an issue that demands special attention as regards the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement. WTO Members are given the freedom to provide exceptions in relation to public health policy issues and the Doha Declaration clarified this. Hence, it is widely appreciated as the only real victory for developing countries. 
... analysis of the wider picture shows that there are good things happening. By way of illustration, on the eve of the Doha+10 celebrations, public health groups in a dozen countries have launched a global campaign to challenge Abbott Laboratories’ monopolistic hold on Kaletra, a critical HIV/AIDS medicine. Generic competition has driven down global prices for AIDS drugs from more than $10,000 a year per person to less than $100. Yet, Abbott prices Kaletra at $400 in the world’s poorest countries, and much higher – from $1,000 to around $4,000 – in other developing nations. 
In countries from the U.S. to Vietnam, Brazil to Indonesia, health groups are aiming to break Abbott’s monopoly control over lopinavir + ritonavir. Campaigners say Abbott’s high prices are blocking expansion of AIDS treatment, and its anti-competitive practices are impeding new drug innovation. This global challenge of one company over one drug has greater significance. The goal is to remind national governments of the public policy tools that they already have. 
Countries have the right to issue compulsory licences. Exercising this right can also improve countries' bargaining power to obtain voluntary licences on reasonable terms, in order to import or manufacture affordable generic versions of patented and prohibitively expensive medicines.
In the United States, Vietnam and Indonesia, groups are asking their governments to authorize generic competition under rules providing for the government use of patents. In Brazil, lawyers are filing formal challenges to Abbott’s patent claims, arguing that the company has not met national standards for patentability and therefore is not entitled to extend its patent monopoly. 
Colombian health advocates are pursuing a lawsuit for a compulsory licence authorizing generic competition, as the government of Ecuador and health advocates in Thailand are seeking to expand licenses already in effect. In India, which is a key producer of generic anti-HIV medicines, civil society groups have successfully warded off Abbott's efforts to monopolize lopinavir+ritonavir, and are continuing their work to keep these drugs off patent today. Peruvian groups are asking Abbott to abandon new patent applications. Treatment providers in Sint Maarten (Kingdom of the Netherlands) and Malaysia and health groups in China have filed request letters with Abbott seeking licences to permit generic competition. More than 300 Vietnamese health groups have signed a similar letter to Abbott. 
“Acting in concert around the world, we will be better able to fight Abbott’s abuses,” said Luz Marina Umbasia, a lawyer who works on behalf of Colombian treatment groups. “This day of action marks our campaign’s beginning. We will be expanding; working for access and open competition for more medicines and with allies in new countries as we move forward.” 
... While IP scholars discuss a conceptual balance between the interests of rightholders and the public interest, people in many countries live with the failure of this balance to materialize -- and will keep on fighting for access to medicines. For more information, please check".
The IPKat has read all this with admiration -- but Merpel's not so sure.  While she sympathises with the aim of those who seek to encourage and provide affordable access to drugs that save life or improve its quality (and who wouldn't?), she wonders what sort of dialogue there has been with Abbott itself and would like to hear from the company.  Its own Global Citizenship page suggests that its aims and sentiments are not at all in conflict with those of Public Citizen. It's also easier to kick patent owners than to understand what they do and why. Is there anyone from Abbott who can explain the other side?

There's more news from Gemma O'Farrell of the conflict between McCambridge and Brennan over the real or alleged similarity between the packaging of the Irish bakers' respective bread products.  As the Kat reported last week, McCambridge won [illustrations of the respective products can be found in this report].  Now Brennan is appealing. Thanks, Gemma, for the update.
Monday miscellany Part 2 Monday miscellany Part 2 Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, December 05, 2011 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Let all those who cry out for better access to medicines around the world stick their hands in their pockets and pay for it. Stop whinging on about patent monopolies and multinational pharmaceutical companies. They are the ones developing the drugs that you are all so desperate to get hold of.

    People are dying though malnutrition, contaminated drinking water, diarrhea and other diseases that could easily be treated for pennies and NOT becaue pharmaceutical companies charge high prices to make a profit on their huge investments.

    Everyone needs to wake up and smell the coffee at the moment. Take a look at the demise of the UK pharmaceutical industry. Politicians still refer to this as a British success story and important to our economy, yet they have all missed the news over the past decade and more with closure of research sites by EVERY company operating in the UK.


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