COVID-19: civil society calls on WIPO to take a stand

Global groups representing researchers, educators, students and the institutions that support them ask WIPO to take a stand so that IP systems are a support, not a hindrance, in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic​

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Position paper & statement
EIFL and partners
April 2020

On 3rd April 2020, EIFL joined more than 140 organizations and individuals from 33 countries in an open letter to the Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Dr. Francis Gurry, calling on WIPO to ensure that intellectual property (IP) systems are a support, not a hindrance, in global efforts to tackle the coronavirus crisis, and its consequences.

The open letter highlighted how the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a bright light on the importance of limitations and exceptions to IP rights to scientific discovery and human flourishing. It urged Dr. Gurry to use his position to:

  • Encourage WIPO member states to take advantage of flexibilities in the international IP system that permit uses of IP-protected works for online education, research, access to medicine and culture;
  • Call on all rightsholders to remove licensing restrictions that inhibit remote education, research and access, including across borders;
  • Support the call by Costa Rica for the World Health Organization to create a global pool of rights in COVID-19 related technology;
  • Support countries’ rights to enact and use exceptions to trade secrets and other intellectual property rights needed to achieve universal and equitable access to COVID-19 medicines and medical technologies. 

This pdf version is the version of the open letter as of 12pm on 3rd April 2020. The letter remained open for endorsements after this date.