Letter Submitted to the Office of the US Trade Representative Supporting US Opposition to TRIPS Waiver Proposal

Written March 30, 2021

On March 30, 2021, AIPLA, joined with the Intellectual Property Owners Association, the Licensing Executives Society USA and Canada, and the NY IP Law Association to express support for the United States’ opposition to the TRIPS waiver proposal being discussed at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The letter expresses strong support for equitable, widespread, and successful distribution of vaccines, medicines, diagnostics, personal protective equipment, and other measures necessary to meet the challenges of COVID-19. It also says the intellectual property rights (IP) relied on by members and their clients have fueled the innovation that has allowed for combating COVID-19 and continues to do so.

The letter explains that the TRIPS waiver proposal would waive a variety of IP rights related “to prevention, containment or treatment” of COVID-19, and says that the proposal being discussed at the WTO incorrectly portrays IP as a barrier to rapid innovation, R&D collaboration, and ample manufacturing of COVID-19 technologies. The letter expresses that this has not been the case and, on the contrary, IP protection enhances these developments. Additionally, no data is known to suggest that patents and other IP rights are hindering vaccine development or delivery.

It is also pointed out that the TRIPS waiver proposal would not just impact vaccines, but would also impact IP rights related to testing, treatments, and personal protective equipment, among other things. The letter suggests that there are no known examples where IP has been used to limit access to COVID-related technology ‒ rather innovator companies have partnered and shared IP to create tools to address the pandemic. Should the proposed TRIPS waiver be implemented, it is noted that it would have an immediate chilling effect on continued research and collaboration needed to overcome, for example, new variants of the virus, to create vaccines for children, and to develop better delivery mechanisms.

To read the full letter, please download the file.