The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) released its ninth annual International IP Index, “Recovery Through Ingenuity,” which gathers data from 53 global economies to evaluate the status of the global intellectual property (IP) environment. Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the key insights from this year’s report, revealing trends that reinforce existing evidence that IP protection is crucial for an effective response to COVID-19 and other global health crises.
Despite the many global challenges faced as a result of COVID-19, GIPC’s findings revealed that IP protection continued to move the world forward. At the outset of the pandemic, the public and private sectors entered into IP-enabled partnerships that allowed for the development of life-saving innovations at unprecedented speeds.
Recognizing the role of innovation to tackle current and future challenges 32 of the 53 economies benchmarked showed improvement in their IP landscape in the past year. Such investment in IP is directly correlated to economic advancement; for example, the GIPC reported that economies with strong IP landscapes hosted over ten times more clinical trials and had more than double the level of innovation output, as compared to economies with weaker IP systems.
Of the more than 1,600 active COVID-19 clinical trials, almost two-thirds utilized existing medicines registered for different indications, reinforcing the fact that IP enables development of life-saving innovations further down the line.
The report also found that past IP protections played a vital role in the swift development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. Of the more than 1,600 active COVID-19 clinical trials, almost two-thirds utilized existing medicines registered for different indications, reinforcing the fact that IP enables development of life-saving innovations further down the line.
Unfortunately, despite the wealth of data pointing to the benefits of IP, certain economies made efforts to diminish or eliminate IP protection during a time when innovation was critical for global health. GIPC’s research points to a handful of countries that implemented harmful policies, such as compulsory licensing for COVID-19 therapeutics. Some countries also took steps to advocate for removing IP protection on COVID-19 medicines, devices and technologies on a global scale through the WTO’s TRIPS waiver – which would do more harm than good.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is clear that the global response must utilize our most effective tools to end this health crisis. The findings from the GIPC report confirm existing evidence that points to the value of IP protection in the fight against the pandemic. In order to secure global safety and wellbeing now, and in the years to come, countries must take the necessary steps to bolster protection and support for IP.