IP is a Necessary Prescription for Innovation

This week, the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) participated in the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) annual international convention, which brought together thousands of participants representing biopharmaceutical companies and associations from over two dozen countries under one roof in Boston, Massachusetts.

We took this opportunity to engage business leaders, international and U.S. government officials, and emerging startups on the importance of intellectual property rights to their industries and countries. GIPC organized two panel discussions on intellectual property (IP), the first focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement and the second on the recent use of compulsory licensing in India.

Panel attendees were treated to a frank discussion on TPP IP policies featuring Probir Mehta, Deputy Assistant for Intellectual Property & Innovation for the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and Joe Damond, Vice President of International Affairs at BIO. They agreed that trade agreements need to foster strong IP rights environments in order to attract investment and research and development. Both panelists stressed the importance of the TPP in providing a template for trade agreements going forward.

Our second panel examined the recent decision of the Indian government to issue a compulsory license for Nexavar, a cancer drug manufactured by Bayer. The featured panelists were Dr. M.K. Bhan, Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology of India; Joe Damond, BIO; and Mary Critharis, Sidley Austin.  Dr. Bhan provided fascinating insight into the recent case in India, stressing that this case was not a warranted use of a compulsory license and that compulsory licenses should be used only in extreme emergencies. This perspective was shared by the other panelists who worried that the Nexavar compulsory license has created uncertainty in the Indian IP rights landscape and could open the door to future cases. All who participated emphasized the importance of enhanced cooperation between industries and governments to promote sound IP policies, and therefore greater certainty for innovators in India.

BIO also provided an important opportunity to expand IP Deliver’s “Voices of IP” feature, which is the GIPC’s pro-IP international campaign. We had the pleasure of interviewing innovative companies, international biotech associations, and government officials about the importance of IP in delivering breakthrough technologies to the world. These voices will be posted on www.IPDelivers.com in the near future, but we can tell you that independently we heard the same message over and over again: without intellectual property, innovation is impossible.

In a live webcast from the BIO Buzz Center, the GIPC delivered that message and promoted the immense importance of IP to the biotech industry, the global economy, and our own national economy. With BIO’s host state, Massachusetts, home to an astounding 1.3 million IP-intensive jobs, we were proud to have been a part of this incredible forum. What has become readily apparent is that those from industry and government regard intellectual property as an instrumental component of human advancements, investment, and jobs and the GIPC will continue to harness that sentiment to promote strong IP rights around the world.

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