Malaphor: Digital Health Law in Canada

health + tech in law = mixing chalk + cheese

How a COVID vaccine patent waiver could provide real world data on the value of patents

This week, President Biden expressed his support for a proposal before the World Trade Organization (WTO) for waiving certain patent protections for COVID vaccines. In summary, if the proposal goes forward, countries such as India and South Africa would be permitted to exempt the application of vaccine patents within their border without being subject to a trade complaint from other countries. I won’t go into further details of the proposal, if you are looking for one, check out the one at Ars Technica here.

Given the US’s history in pushing for increasing IP rights in bilateral or multilateral trade agreements over and above the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement standards that apply to all WTO members, Biden’s support for this vaccine patent wavier is a pretty big deal. Obviously, the companies that have developed and are selling these vaccines are resistant to the proposal.

Photo of a staff member of the USTR upon hearing President Biden supporting the vaccine patent waiver proposal
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Is a wave of digital health patent litigation coming?

Representative drawing of Canadian Patent No. 2,233,794, entitled “ Method and apparatus for the management of medical files”

At least since the last century, the introduction of significant advances in technology is often accompanied by patent litigation. Many people will be aware of the numerous lawsuits brought in relation to computers or connectivity in the last couple of decades. However, they may not be aware that before that, there had been patent lawsuits in relationship to the incandescent light bulb, the electric steam iron and even zippers.

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