We invite you to read the article by Samuel Toro, advisor to the NGO Innovarte, published in the newspaper El Mostrador. Samuel shares his opinion on C-TAP (Covid Technology Access Pool), a WHO initiative to promote technology transfer and access to knowledge as a tool for development and innovation through a balanced system of intellectual property rights.
Read the column directly at the source HERE
April 25th, 2023
C-TAP: a new international paradigm for technology transfer
In a recent interview in Dbox Radio.com with the prominent lawyer Luis Villarroel about the transfer of knowledge through intellectual property and C-TAP issues in the international opportunities that Chile has. The lawyer mentions that it is important to understand that knowledge is the “natural cell” of intellectual property, and that this knowledge has two characteristics: it is a non-rival good and it is not excludable. This means that access to knowledge should not be limited and should be available to everyone without barriers. Intellectual property artificially creates a monopoly on this knowledge, which leads to static inefficiency in the present, but at the same time it is hoped that this will encourage more creators in the future, and thus more knowledge. Intellectual property provides an incentive to create, but if the levels of exclusivity are not properly balanced, the system will not work.
It is therefore essential to consider the balance between exclusive intellectual property rights and access to the information necessary for innovation. If intellectual property rights are too restrictive, they can become a barrier to access to knowledge and innovation. The NGO INNOVARTE has been on the lookout and is currently working to provide public policy input to properly balance these rights.
It is important to understand that intellectual property should not be seen as a special advantage of a sector, but as a tool for development and innovation. As an example, Villarroel cites the 40-hour workday, which improved the welfare of a significant group of people, but another sector was concerned with its own productivity interests. The same goes for intellectual property. A balance must be struck. Exclusive intellectual property rights must not become a barrier to innovation and development.
In other words, it seeks to promote intellectual property for development and innovation. However, it also recognizes the need to find an appropriate balance between exclusive intellectual property rights and access to the information necessary to foster innovation. Intellectual property provides an incentive to create, but if not properly balanced, it can become a barrier to innovating and developing. In this way, we work on proposals and actions to achieve appropriate compatibility and ensure that intellectual property is seen as a tool for development and innovation and not as a particular advantage of a sector.
In the area of knowledge sharing, in this case technology, the C-TAP (Access to Technology COVID-19) initiative is of global importance to ensure that the technologies needed to treat the disease were and are available to all who need them. The goal of the initiative is the promotion of fair and transparent technology transfer through non-exclusive licenses and fair royalties.
One of the major problems in healthcare is the lack of transparency of data and clinical trials and the conditions under which discoveries are licensed. This has led to situations of inequity, where some countries pay more than others for similar technologies, or where one country is chosen over another to receive the technologies, resulting in fees three times higher in some countries. C-TAP seeks to address this problem by creating an environment for technology transfer that is equitable, transparent, and beneficial to all parties involved.
C-TAP has created a new international paradigm for technology transfer with the support of the WHO and the cooperation of many countries. The University of Chile is the first to contribute to this technology transfer system in Latin America. An example of this technology transfer is the one developed in Spain, which already has a sublicensee in Africa.
In Chile and Latin America, C-TAP was not fully implemented. Initially, an important precedent for accelerating the issue was set by the efforts of the NGO Innovarte, which gave a boost to civil society, politics and academia. The University of Chile and other governments on the continent face certain challenges as they implement public policies that seek to balance exclusive intellectual property rights with access to information necessary to foster innovation. That is why we are working today on proposals and actions to achieve a level of compatibility that is appropriate. In this sense, it is important that the governments of the different countries appoint international coordinators to be interlocutors for the plans that are currently being elaborated for the prevention of the inevitable new pandemics to come and for which there is international agreement among the member countries of the WHO.
In this regard, the establishment of public policies is relevant, which is quite feasible since incentives have been proposed for companies that invest in it, in addition to the fact that if national progress in C-TAP is considered, it would generate an unquestionable international showcase where any institution, research group, etc., that has ideas and advances, whether they are small or not, can contribute to C-TAP and generate a double virtuous situation: collaborating to new scopes in pandemic research in the world and positioning Chile, strong, abroad in matters of technological research. To accelerate this process, there are challenges in implementing public policies that seek to balance exclusive intellectual property rights with access to the information needed to foster innovation.
Mr. Villarroel emphasizes that this is a crucial and important moment for the world in relevant issues related to universal health and access, where Chile can play an important leadership role.