Legislative Committee in Ecuador approves resolution on compulsory licensing of patents relating to the coronavirus

For more on KEI’s work on COVID-19, see keonline.org/coronavirus.

Today, the Education, Culture, Science and Technology Commission of the National Assembly in Ecuador approved a resolution asking the Minister of Health to issue compulsory licenses over patents related to coronavirus technologies. The resolution also asks the Minister of Health to use article 510 of the Código Ingenios, a provision that allows the competent authorities to authorize third parties to access undisclosed information, including clinical test data.

There is also a strong article on transparency:

Article 5.- Urge the Ministry of Public Health of Ecuador to request the Global Observatory on Health R&D of the World Health Organization (WHO) to collect information on the costs of research and development directly associated with vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, supplies, and other useful technologies for COVID-19 surveillance, prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment, including investments made by public sector institutions, private sector institutions, and charities.

The National Assembly is the legislative branch of the government of Ecuador. The Education, Culture, Science and Technology Commission, integrated by 12 lawmakers, is a permanent body of the National Assembly. The resolution was proposed by legislator Jimmy Candell Soto and approved unanimously by the Commission. Hernán Núñez Rocha, former director of the patent office who led the agency during the approval of the Código Ingenios in 2016; and Ecuadorian lawyer Diego Morales Oñate, testified in favor of the resolution during a hearing held online today.

A PDF version of the resolution approved today is available here: https://www.keionline.org/wp-content/uploads/ES-Ecuador-CL-resolution.pdf

An English version of the resolution translated by KEI is available here: https://www.keionline.org/ecuador-CL-coronavirus-resolution

Commentary from Ecuador

  • Hernán Núñez Rocha, former director of the patent office in Ecuador

“International intellectual property treaties, as well as the norm of the Andean community, empower Ecuador to take exceptional measures in cases of emergency and public interest. In this regard, the Código Ingenios has several rules that allow the use of the intellectual property system for the benefit of fundamental rights.

“The Commission has promulgated a landmark resolution, as it requests the government to implement measures that allow access to proprietary technology, as well as all undisclosed information related to the Coronavirus, including test data.

“This resolution is a clear example of the provisions of the Código Ingenios, which establishes the need to weigh intellectual property rights with fundamental rights, to guarantee an adequate balance between owners and users. In addition, it contemplates additional measures in cases of national emergency, as effectively provided in the cited resolution.

“If in situations like the current one, the intellectual property system cannot provide solutions for the benefit of the population, we should necessarily rethink the model.”

Daniel Ruiz Calvachi, constitutional lawyer in Ecuador

“It is important to guarantee at this time the constitutional right to health and to protect this right over private interests. Coordination between the different State institutions is necessary to operationalize this measure. It is necessary to request the National Government to take measures that guarantee the health of doctors and medical students who are treating those affected.”

Diego Morales Oñate, lawyer in Ecuador

“Law should always be present to change the reality of people and the world, as a social and justice instrument of transformation, during this crucial moment for the planet, as it is evident in the lagged performance of the world’s economy. We need to start thinking in a new world and that a utopia is possible. Ecuador has made a huge leap aiming towards just that, the National Assembly with the help of the Education, Culture, Science and Technology Commission have created a route to be able to place free or low-cost medication for the people, using intellectual property norms, such as patents, by means of compulsory licenses. We hope to find and access the cure, so we can all embrace as we did before.”