KEI statement to Committee on Development and Intellectual Property on WIPO project on IP and Competition Policy

Knowledge Ecology International made the following intervention today at the 6th Session of the WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP).

KEI statement to WIPO CDIP 6 on Agenda item 5

Thank you Ambassador and congratulations on your appointment as Chair of this Committee.

With respect to the progress report on relating to Annex XI in Document CDIP/6/2 on IP and Competition Policy, we offer a comment on the WIPO symposium on “Enforcing Antitrust Law with Reference to Intellectual Property Assets: New Developments and Perspectives” held on October 25th, 2010.

We object to the fact that this symposium did not contain any consumer voices, something that the proponents of the Development Agenda clearly would not have intended.

There is no shortage of consumer perspectives on this topic. For example, the Treatment Access Campaign (TAC) South Africa has used competition law to address excessive pricing of HIV medicines. Civil society groups in Thailand have used competition law to challenge with withdrawal of drug registrations by Abbott following the issuance of compulsory licenses in that country. Brazilian civil society groups have raised competition concerns in drug patent issues as well. A number of public health, development and consumer groups have raised concerns about the use of exclusionary licensing practices for patents on AIDS drugs, and the uses of contracts with suppliers of active ingredients of pharmaceutical drugs to cut off supplies from generic products. KEI and Richard Stallman asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Union to block a merger involving a leading free software platform for database services. Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, PIRG, Public Citizen and KEI have been involved in numerous disputes involving the licensing practices of information and medical technologies. There have been concerns over the refusals to license ritonavir for co-formulated versions of AIDS drugs.

We also note with concern that the four private companies WIPO invited to participate represent a very selective sliver of the industry perspective, namely that of companies on the receiving end of anti-trust inquiries and sanctions in various jurisdictions including the European Union, the United States and South Africa with a reputation for continued abuse. Companies that have successfully made best efforts to ensure compliance with competition rules and have pro-actively worked with antitrust authorities to resolve antitrust concerns were missing entirely as are representatives from the overwhelming majority of industry which never came in conflict with competition law.

The International Bureau’s implementation of the Development Agenda’s mandate on Intellectual Property and Competition Policy should take into account the views of consumers, and more diverse industry perspectives.