Making the case for strong intellectual property rights in Chile and Latin America

For countries like Chile looking to reduce dependence on the export of natural resources, innovation will be key. Knowledge-based industries from life sciences to film form the basis of economic growth in most OECD countries, their growth and investment encouraged by a strong framework of intellectual property rights.

Latin American countries such as Chile hold much promise due to their biodiversity, good science base and entrepreneurial citizens. Yet there is scepticism in policymaking circles in Chile and elsewhere in Latin America about the potential of innovation, and role of intellectual property rights, in particular in debates about public health. This most recently has manifested itself in attempts to by the legislature undermine intellectual property rights by making it easier to issue a compulsory license for medicines.

This was the backdrop to a one day dialogue of regional think tanks on innovation and development, convened by Geneva Network hosted in the offices of Centro de Estudios Publicos in Santiago, Chile.

Thinkers and experts from thirteen international, pro-market think tanks came together to give their perspectives on these important issues. Represented organisations included Libertad y Progreso (Argentina), MacDonald-Laurier Institute (Canada), Libertad y Desarrollo (Chile), Fundacion Eleutra (Honduras), Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (USA) and Instituto de Ciencia Politica (Colombia).

Among the conclusions of the day:

  • Latin America will need to prioritise innovation if it is to meet its social, demographic and economic challenges.
  • In an era of globalization in which knowledge-based industries form the bedrock of the most successful economies, intellectual property rights (IPRs) must be considered as fundamental market institutions, alongside physical property rights and the rule of law. By contrast, government attempts to co-opt IPRs through for example compulsory licenses create enormous uncertainty for domestic and international investors.
  • Strengthening domestic intellectual property rights is often viewed as a “cost” of trading with wealthier countries, to be resisted or watered-down. It is, in fact, necessary to meaningfully participate in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy.
  • As knowledge-based goods and services are an increasingly important component of global trade, policymakers should look to the trading system to create a level playing field and high standards of protection.

Clearly, enormous challenges remain if Latin American countries are to become more innovative and participate more meaningfully in global value chains and international innovation networks. But the opportunity is there: it is up to the current generation of policymakers to seize it.

Panel discussion at the World Trade Organization: IP as a Driver for Innovation

The U.S. Mission Geneva cosponsored today’s discussion on IP as a driver for Innovation at the WTO (World Trade Organization). A panel of four expert speakers looked at how IP incentivizes creativity in the arts, business and technology, unshackling human potential to address the world’s many challenges. The event featured four speakers: Carsten Fink, Chief Economist of the World Intellectual Property Organization, Dr. Keith Nurse, Senior Fellow at the University of the West Indies and founder of the CaribbeanTales incubator, Dr. Jonas Pollard, head of the Hemolytics project at the Adolphe Merkle Institute, and Jason Kang, CEO and Co-Founder of Kinnos. The session was moderated by Philip Stevens, Director of Geneva Network.

To see photos from the event click here.

Indian innovation competitiveness

Indian thought leaders’ policy dialogue on health, innovation and competitiveness

In the run up to the 2019 general election, the Indian government has prioritised healthcare delivery and promoting innovation and competitiveness in the country, including in the health and life sciences sector.

To feed into this discussion, Geneva Network organised a half day roundtable in Mumbai to assess the state of play, and also to brainstorm policy reforms that could accelerate progress. The roundtable included 15 thought leaders from Indian think tanks, universities and NGOs, in addition to participation from around 20 individuals from the private sector.

The first panel, moderated by Ali Mehdi of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), looked at the status of the newly launched Ayushman Bharat scheme, with a particular focus on how the private sector can partner with the government to ensure the success of the scheme.

The second panel, moderated by Aman Gupta of Strategic Partners Group, examined the reforms necessary to make India a leading life science investment destination and to promote innovation within the country. The discussion focused on intellectual property reforms, regulation and trade policy, with a particular reference to the lessons from China’s policy reforms.

The outputs of the discussion will be released as a white paper co-published by Invest India, Institute for Competitiveness India and Geneva Network, for distribution to Indian government stakeholders.

Malaysian Roundtable on Innovation and Access to Medicines

Galen Centre’s Azrul Mohd Khalib gives an overview of Malaysia’s Government Use License

In 2017 the Malaysian government issued a Government Use License for a Hepatitis C medicine. Following the recent change of government, Geneva Network in collaboration with local partner the Galen Centre organised a half day round table to assess the impact of this policy and to emphasise the important role of intellectual property rights in facilitating access to, and innovation of, new medicines.

Geneva Network’s Philip Stevens began the day by outling the linkages between innovation, IP and economic development, followed by Azrul Mohd Khalib’s, of the Galen Centre, overview of the timeline of the government use license and its negative impact on various international IP and innovation rankings. This theme was further explored by Chew Phye Keat, past president of the Malaysian Intellectual Property Association, who emphasised the need for predictability and transparency in the deployment of flexibilities in IP law, which is arguably lacking in the Malaysian context.

The Geneva Network delegation visits the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia

Prof. Mark Shchultz of Southern Illinois Law School explained the important role of IP in protecting the market-building investments necessary to launch a medicine in a new country, while Indonesia’s Widya Wihardijono emphasised the importance of IP to pharmaceutical innovation. Ong Mei Ching of cancer access charity, the Max Foundation, concluded by explaining the complexity of getting drugs to patients, particularly in resource-poor settings in Asia.

During the visit to Kuala Lumpur, Philip Stevens of Geneva Network, Azrul Mohd Khalib and Prof. Shcultz also visited the offices of local stakeholders to share views on Malaysian innovation, access and trade issues.

Geneva Summit for pro-innovation thought leaders and think tanks

WIPO DG Francis Gurry makes introductory remarks, next to Geneva Network’s Philip Stevens

As WHO member states gathered in Geneva for the 2018 World Health Assembly, Geneva Network co-ordinated a summit for pro-innovation think tanks and thought leaders from around the world. Thanks are due to the World Intellectual Property Organisation which kindly offered meeting facilities and lunch in its headquarters building.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry started the day with an overview of the main challenges and opportunities facing the global IP system, and subsequent panelists discussed, amongst other topics, the role of IP in facilitating investment and economic development; the real barriers to access to medicines; IP-related developments in the global trading system, including NAFTA; and a discussion of how IP is being used by entrepreneurs in developing countries to fulfil unmet health needs. While in Geneva, some participants met with country missions to discuss how best to advance pro-innovation policies at the World Health Assembly.