2020 will be remembered for the many challenges spurring from the COVID-19 pandemic, and hopefully for the amazing ways innovators stepped up to find solutions. It is this kind of progress that underscores the essential nature of a strong intellectual property system. Here are some key themes as we reflect on another year of IP Progress:
Innovation can achieve amazing things.
Toward the beginning of the year, we highlighted notable achievements improving the lives of individuals across the world – including wearable technology advancements, solar energy yield improvements and other green technology as celebrated on World Intellectual Property Day. But as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, we saw a new wave of innovation rapidly come to the aid of society, which expressly focused on addressing COVID-19. These new inventions helped prevent the spread of the disease, diagnose illness quicker and even help care for patients more effectively.
The progress in 2020 underscores the essential nature of a strong intellectual property system.
COVID-19 has shown that the intellectual property system works.
The onset of the coronavirus pandemic brought rapid and unprecedented collaboration between and among public and private entities focused on creating lifesaving solutions. These collaborations sought to find new applications of existing technologies, discover novel technologies and identify new ways to speed innovation to those who need it. This progress is possible because of an intellectual property system that protects and rewards innovators, while giving clear pathways to collaboration with other entities to advance society.
World leaders must continue to support intellectual property and the key mechanisms that drive progress.
At this year’s two-part World Health Assembly, leaders called for increased innovation and collaboration – recognizing these elements as key to driving solutions to our greatest challenges. Supporting a strong intellectual property system will continue to drive partnerships and progress, as we have seen through mechanisms like patent licensing. Rejecting policies harmful to innovation such as compulsory licensing and remaining focused on addressing the real barriers to medicine access will remain critical to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and other global health challenges in the months and years ahead.