Today, a coalition of some of the largest national business associations in the world – BDI (Germany), Canadian Chamber, CBI (UK), FKI (Republic of Korea), MEDEF (France) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – released an open letter to government leaders seeking partnership in removing obstacles to innovation access, maintaining strong intellectual property (IP) protections, and encouraging smart global collaboration through existing technology licensing models.
The letter outlines the business community’s instrumental contribution to the pandemic response, noting that businesses have assumed considerable individual risk by diverting resources to accelerate the development and deployment of critical medical equipment – including COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines – and creative and educational content people need. The letter emphasizes that this historic mobilization has been made possible through alliance building between the private sector and public sector and non-profit sector; but suggests there is more work to be done to unleash unbridled innovation.
“Now more than ever, we need intellectual property-driven innovation to win the fight against COVID-19,” said Patrick Kilbride. “Intellectual property will be the foundation of every vaccine, treatment and cure we mobilize; it’s critical that we nurture those foundations, not uproot them. That’s why we’re asking the governments to maintain their effective protection. The system to deliver the solutions we need is already in place. Instead of weakening that system or searching for new ones, governments should urgently focus their efforts on removing the barriers that are hindering the efficient approval and distribution of solutions.”
The letter identifies three main tenets governments should concentrate efforts on:
- Maintain strong IP protection. Recognize the critical role effective IP protections have played and will play in defeating the virus and uphold and promote those protections accordingly.
- Remove trade barriers. Unnecessary regulatory requirements, taxes, tariffs, export bans, stockpiling and distribution burdens will only hurt the dissemination of COVID-19 innovations.
- Keep working systems in place and avoid creating new ones. The unprecedented volume and progress of research and development collaborations shows that IP is already being licensed effectively through existing programs. We do not believe new programs or initiatives are necessary to support IP licensing.
The coalition contends that, together, these actions will “support the timely and effective development and delivery of innovative and creative solutions to this pandemic.”