COVID-19 and IP


Sir Robin Jacob

COVID-19 and IP

As the race to find ways to combat the pandemic intensifies, competition laws and state aid laws should reflect the crisis situation, but compulsory licensing is unlikely to lead to victory, Sir Robin Jacob argues.

Silent enim leges inter arma: Cicero used these words in his speech on behalf of Titus Annius Milo, who was on trial for murder in 52 BC. They are loosely translated as: “In times of war, the law falls silent.”

Lord Atkin did not agree. In Liversidge v Anderson (1942), decided in the middle of World War 2, he said: “In this country, amid the clash of arms, the laws are not silent. They may be changed, but they speak the same language in war as in peace.”

Cicero or Atkin?

What then of IP in a time of pandemic? Cicero or Atkin? Can governments simply override all IP rights which cover anything to do with COVID-19? Or can they do so if the law allows?

COVID-19, pandemic, licensing, IP rights, medicines, vaccines, testing kits, trade secrets, competition law, inventions, patents, profiteering, big pharma