ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Legal and Consumer Issues

COVID-19 Vaccines

The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and National Disaster Management Act, 2005 grant the Government of India a great deal of autonomy and control in declaring an infectious disease as a pandemic and in suspending citizen’s rights. Three distinct but related legal issues regarding the government’s handling of intellectual property rights under the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement of the World Trade Organization, consumer rights, and product liability for the COVID-19 vaccines are discussed, as the raging pandemic has created uncertainties in the implementation of these laws.

 

Various intellectual property rights (IPRs) protect COVID-19-related technologies: testing kits and vaccines under patents; masks and personal protection equipment under designs, trademark; and copyright. (About 2,070 patents have been filed on such techno­logies globally; 63 patents filed in India, and three filed by Indian organisations).1 Unauthorised use of such products would constitute infringement of IPR, and autho­rised use would increase their costs because of royalties, making them expensive to address pandemic needs. To resolve this, on 2 October 2020, India and South Africa (ISA) issued a joint statement before World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) council requesting a waiver for

implementation, application, and enforcement of Sections 1 (copyright), 4 (industrial designs), 5 (patents), and 7 (undisclosed information) of Part II of TRIPS […] in relation to prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19 (emphasis inserted). They expect the waiver to continue until widespread vaccination is in place globally, and the majority of the world’s population has developed immunity […]. (WTO 2020)

It is interesting to inquire and understand as to why the Indian government made this request, when provisions relating to compulsory licensing were already available under TRIPS, and was integrated in the Indian Patent Act (IPA), 1970.

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Updated On : 10th Apr, 2021

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