COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND GREEN INNOVATION: EXPLORING SOCIAL ASPECTS OF IPR ON WORD IP DAY
Timing: From 11:00 AM to 12: 30 PM (April 26, 2020; Sunday)
Mr. K.M. Gopakumar
Legal Advisor & Senior Researcher
Third World Network
Prof. T.C. James
Visiting Fellow, RIS
Prof. (Dr.) Raman Mittal
Professor-In-Charge, Campus law Centre, Faculty of Law University of Delhi
Dr. Kshitij Kumar Singh
Assistant Professor of Law Campus Law Centre, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi
COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND GREEN INNOVATION: EXPLORING SOCIAL ASPECTS OF IPR ON WORLD IP DAY
On the World IP day, we are conjoining two subthemes with one common thread of social aspects of IP. The second theme is a thoughtful selection by the WIPO as the theme of the World IP Day 2020 while the first one is superimposed by a virus shaking the whole world and overshadowing whatsoever other themes and subthemes could be possible. However, both the themes prompt us to explore the social aspects of IPR, which is largely ignored in IP practices. IP by its very nature is based upon a composed model that seeks to strike a delicate balance between rewarding the inventors and creators on one hand and promoting the public good on the other. Both “Covid-19 Pandemic” and “Innovation for Green Future” have prompted us to revisit this balance and examine the prevailing IP practices.
The inbuilt mechanism of IPR with inherent flexibilities to absorb the emergent situations such as Covid-19 is under scanner, the pandemic raises questions as to the licensing practices including compulsory licensing, prioritizing fields of research and innovation, (e.g. the prioritizing innovation in life saving essential drugs, innovation in vaccine development that has been left as a less-priority area) the accessibility and affordability of patented drugs and testing kits and the application of relevant provisions relating to emergent situations. In this regard, it is overwhelming to see the increasing trend of collaboration among various companies by opening the gates of patented technologies for a common cause; promoting accessibility of medical tools, testing kits and other necessities. Giant IT companies are making patent pledges to refrain from exercising their exclusive rights for a particular period of time. Many countries are amending their lP laws to make it compatible with the needs of the given situation; companies are releasing funds and shifting their manufacturing from their respective mainstream production to production of masks and sanitizers. However, certain reports show that some businesses are allegedly exploiting this emergent situation by maximizing their benefit through the strong assertion of IPR. Most importantly, this emergent situation raises questions about the fair-play in non-emergent situations, do these intellectual property players pay the same heed on these concerns in normal situations, aligning with the more sustainable use of their rights. There is always some economic angle involved in IPR practices, however, it is not their use but abuse that creates the problem. When the purpose is lost, the balance is leaning more towards profit making and not towards public welfare. A judicious exercise of power is always the key.
In line with the fair and sustainable practices, the World IP Day theme, “Innovate for Green Future”, also requires a responsible and more sustainable behavior of IP community. IPR could be helpful in promoting green innovation by prioritizing those innovations, which provide technological solutions to environmental problems e.g. climate change; promoting judicious exercise of intellectual property rights e.g. patents in this area may allow open collaboration and access to technologies through eco-friendly licensing strategies including open and collaborative model; environment-related signs, symbols and words (using the prefix “eco”, “enviro”) may be considered as trademark to promote eco-friendly goods in the market, plastic free/recycled items could be promoted through designs. WIPO Green is a wonderful initiative, enabling an online platform that seeks to connect providers and seekers of environment friendly technologies. Due to lockdowns and decreased human activities, one can see the relishing environment with phenomenal decrease in pollution and significant improvement in the ecosystem. This clearly reflects that who is responsible for environmental-degradation. Sustainability is the key and IPR could be a helping tool in promoting eco-friendly practices. IPR, if practiced in full conformity with its objectives and social responsibilities, could be instrumental in achieving the goal of green future.
Structure of the Webinar
There are four panellists including the moderator, who deliberate upon the topic by touching upon the area of their expertise in tune with the theme of the Webinar.
The Webinar will have two aspects
- General Background and the Discussion pertaining to COVID-19 Pandemic and IPR
- The Discussion on World IP Day Theme (“Innovate for a Green Future”) and Final Takeaways