Compulsory Licensing of Trade Secrets: Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccines via Involuntary Technology Transfer

Queen Mary Law Research Paper No. 363/2021

Forthcoming, Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (2021)

29 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2021 Last revised: 30 Aug 2021

See all articles by Olga Gurgula

Olga Gurgula

Brunel University London - Brunel Law School

John Hull

Centre for Commercial Legal Studies

Date Written: June 23, 2021

Abstract

This paper considers how vaccine technology to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic can be made available to increase the production of vaccines. Its primary focus is on trade secrets, which are one of the main intellectual property rights protecting the complex manufacturing processes of vaccine production. The compulsory licensing of trade secrets presents some unique obstacles and consideration is given to some practical solutions that might balance the interests of technology owners and the public interest in increased access to vaccines. In particular, this paper suggests that to make the currently discussed proposals on accelerating the production of COVID-19 vaccines, including compulsory licensing of patents and the IP waiver, work, an additional mechanism of compulsory licensing of trade secrets is required. It is believed that a proposal for a new mechanism of compulsory licensing of trade secrets coupled with a discussion on the content of such licences, challenges that would need to be addressed and the potential wording of such a licence, would provide useful guidance to governments on how to make their compulsory technology transfer mechanisms more effective.

Keywords: COVID-19 vaccines, compulsory licensing, IP waiver, TRIPS, patents, trade secrets, technology transfer

Suggested Citation

Gurgula, Olga and Hull, John, Compulsory Licensing of Trade Secrets: Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccines via Involuntary Technology Transfer (June 23, 2021). Queen Mary Law Research Paper No. 363/2021, Forthcoming, Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (2021), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3872796

Olga Gurgula (Contact Author)

Brunel University London - Brunel Law School ( email )

Kingston Lane
Elliott Jaques Building
Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH
United Kingdom

John Hull

Centre for Commercial Legal Studies ( email )

Mile End Road
London, London E1 4NS
United Kingdom

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