ATRIP Conference in Nashville and an interesting proposal for public health.

This Kat came just back from  Nashville Tennessee and the annual ATRIP (Association for the Advancement of Teaching and Research in Intellectual Property Rights) conference. It was a very well- organized conference, with particular attention to the very interesting academic programme as well as to practical details by Professor Daniel Gervais,  the president of ATRIP (2017-2019).

The conference included  an abundance of thoughtful  presentations on various  issues  central to modern IP law and the challenges facing it. These included  aspects relating to copyright (such as copyright and fundamental rights, or copyright and educational exceptions) and  patent law (gender and patent protection, patents and biomedical innovation,  patents and ethical use).

The conference programme  included a number of parallel sessions concerning spanning geographical indications, traditional knowledge, Big Data and AI. One could say that the conference had it all (or nearly all).  (For more information on the schedule see here).

Focusing on the session concerning pharmaceutical products and their impact on the development of 
the IP system the discussion  addressed  IP and pharmaceuticals  from the vantage of  access to medicines and the public health interests. The topic is usually framed  by the structure of the patent system, increased prices of patented pharmaceuticals, constraints in the production of generics and the possibilities available by compulsory licensing.

On the same subject,  but  from a different starting point, was the presentation of Professor of Intellectual Property Law and Director of the Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute, Duncan Matthews. Prof. Matthews discussed access to medicines from a competition law perspective. Following on his keynote speech delivered at an OECD workshop earlier in February this year on the subject of Recent Challenges in Competition and IP in Pharmaceutical Markets (found here), Matthews analyzed the competition-law related measures that could be used in order to meet public health needs.  

One interesting question raised was whether the competition law enforcement authorities can scrutinize practices that utilize perfectly legal strategies under the law of patents and related rights. Bridging IP rights and competition law is an on-going challenge, especially in seeking to meet public health needs on an international level. While the work of the OECD  on this issue is promising and on-going,  something that cannot be said about the work of the EU and, in particular,  the activities of its different Director Generals that seem at times to be working in opposite directions.

This is definitely a “to be continued” issue, with major  consequences for both the future of the interrelationship between IP and competition law as well as for the future regulation of the pharmaceutical industry.

ATRIP Conference in Nashville and an interesting proposal for public health. ATRIP Conference in Nashville and an interesting proposal for public health. Reviewed by Frantzeska Papadopoulou on Monday, September 16, 2019 Rating: 5

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