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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Pharmaceutical Patents

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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It's important to distinguish between patent-infringement and trademark-infringement, as well as misrepresentation.

My understanding of the measures reported on in the Wash Po is that they're aimed at *fake* medicines; that is products with faked trademarks, or produced by fraudsters culpable of misrepresentation (eg. by producing a drug which is not what it claims to be - many fakes, for example, are simply placebos).

I do not believe they are seizing and holding or destroying generic drugs which do not commit any of the other offences.

Whatever you views on patents (which are fairly obvious from the list on the left), I think this is an unrelated issue.

Julian:

But then you would have depraved...oops, deprived...John Bennett of a good rant about intellectual property, even if the intellectual property is trademarks, originally intended to prevent unfair competition and sometimes intended to prevent consumer confusion. But, hey, an intellectual property destructionist will rant with minimal motivation, so it is unlikely that actual facts will slow them down.

I'm afraid John B. and Julian are both right. In the former's defense, I've read a number of stories lately (though admittedly not the Wash Po article) on Customs seizures of generics based on patent infringement allegations. There's especially been quite a bit of chatter about this on the Indian blogs; many of the generics seized are from India, and get intercepted at European ports. This confiscation policy was originally intended to stem the flow of illegal drugs. But now the major pharmas and their cohorts are allegedly using the system as a method of patent enforcement.
Thanks for the comments, Anon and Gena. On the latter point, the patent seizures do raise an interesting issue - and I can certainly understand the argument that one jurisdiction shouldn't be able to impose laws on other countries where those laws do not apply. As I'm not an IP lawyer I'm unsure what the precendents are here, but I'd imagine this is unusual--and also counterproductive, as it'll just drive producers to use freer ports instead.

However, according to EU customs reports, 93% of seizures last year were for trademark infringement, NOT patent infringement (which only accounted for 6%). So it seems as if the main tale of EU seizures is being ignored, with the patent seizures hyped up somewhat.

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