Participation in WIPO-SCP 25th session in Geneva, SwitzerlandDuring December 12 to 15, 2016, JIPA dispatched Chairman Masashi Shimbo from the Medicinal and Biotechnology Committee to the WIPO-SCP (Standing Committee of the Law of Patents) 25th session, which was held in Geneva, Switzerland.
This committee was established in 1998 in order for developed countries and developing countries to hold a meeting for discussing problems, enhancing their cooperation, and providing guidance in pursuit of the international development of the patent law. Nowadays, the committee is held twice a year, and representatives of governmental agencies from all over the world as well as representatives from organizations such as NGOs as observers participate in the committee for discussions. JIPA is an official observer having a voice.
Since last year, WIPO-SCP has discussed the 5 major agenda items, "Exceptions and limitations to patent rights", "Quality of patents, including opposition systems", "Patents and health", "Confidentiality of communications between clients and their patent advisors", and "Transfer of technology", and has discussed whether the WIPO Model Law established in 1979 needs to be revised. In particular, emerging countries have directed their criticisms at patent systems related to medicines. Additionally, the UN High-Level Panel Report on Access to Medicines (* related link) was released in September 2016. The report includes the following suggestions: the maximum use of TRIPS flexibility (for example, free setting of patentability criteria and compulsory licenses) by WTO members for improvement in the situation in which emerging countries lack medicines; the enhancement of the efforts to improve public health by publicly funded universities and research institutes; and the enhancement of transparency in the information on R&D expenses, pharmaceutical prices, and pharmaceuticals-related patents. Thus, JIPA again dispatched the representative from the Medicinal and Biotechnology Committee to address the situation under the assumption that emerging countries would make more difficult requests than ever before. JIPA prepared a draft statement in cooperation with the Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations so that the representative could express, as needed, the importance of the patent system in drug discovery and the efforts to improve Access to Medicines in the pharmaceutical industry, in particular. JIPA also consulted with JPO in advance and then participated in the meeting.
Unfortunately, there were disagreements on many agenda items between developed countries and developing countries in the meeting. On the final day, the participants discussed future work, and unfortunately, they did not reach an agreement even on this topic. We left the meeting place, feeling that it would be necessary to continue discussions especially on patents and health over a long time.