PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESS, PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

IP Giveaway by Biden Admin Remains a Bad Idea for U.S. Innovation and Leadership

By at 30 March, 2022, 10:25 am

NEWS

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. – In May 2021, the Biden Administration announced it would support a petition before the World Trade Organization to “waive” vital intellectual property (IP) rights for COVID-19 vaccines, which would essentially undercut the IP rights that have been the cornerstone of America’s promotion of free enterprise, economic growth, innovation and opportunity both at home and abroad. With the weak rational behind the harmful waiver non-existent, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) president & CEO Karen Kerrigan reiterated alarm about the Administration’s ongoing support for the waiver, and urged President Biden to walk it back. The draft waiver of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) undermines IP protections for Covid-19 treatments, vaccines, and diagnostics, and Kerrigan said that weakening U.S. IP rights undercuts President Biden’s pledge to make the U.S. the hub for the world’s “arsenal of vaccines” along with legislative efforts in Congress to bolster U.S. competitiveness.

“This move supported by the Biden Administration undercuts American innovation and competitiveness. Moreover, vaccines are widely available across the world and the problem continues to be distribution, hesitancy, and poor healthcare infrastructure in those countries where uptake is not as strong. This IP giveaway will not strengthen the global response to defeating this pandemic or future ones, but it does plays into the hands of nations that continually work to weaken IP rights and protections,” said Kerrigan.

In a March 29, 2021 letter to officials within the Biden Administration, SBE Council joined business and IP leaders expressing strong support for U.S. leadership in helping to ramp-up the development and manufacturing of COVID-19 supplies and treatments to end the pandemic. The letter also outlined deep concerns concerning the waiver, including efforts by those countries signing the waiver that have “longstanding goals to weaken IP rights.” Kerrigan added that 20 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be produced in 2022, which is more than enough to meet the vaccination goals of the World Health Organization.

SBE Council chief economist Raymond J. Keating observed:

“Among the reasons why the U.S. leads the world in pharmaceuticals, including on the vaccines front, are our strong IP protections. Undermining property rights means reducing incentives for risk-taking, reining in innovation, and reducing new and improved treatments for existing ailments, as well as for future diseases and pandemics. America cannot lead, either innovatively or on free-enterprise advocacy, if we support this evisceration of IP rights and protections.”

Kerrigan said it is not too late for the Biden Administration to reconsider its support for the IP giveaway:

“No rationale exists to compromise – or weaken – U.S. intellectual property. Vaccine doses are plentiful and petitioning countries must make internal improvements to strengthen uptake and distribution. We call on the Biden Administration to pull its support for the IP waiver, and reaffirm America’s commitment to strong IP rights and protections and the many positive benefits those protections create.”

Related content:

Vaccines are Saving Small Business, International Business Times Op-ed, April 4, 2021.

No Intellectual Property Rights, No New Vaccines – Small Business Insider blog, April 1, 2021.

CONTACT:

Karen Kerrigan, kkerrigan@sbecouncil.org

Raymond Keating, rkeating@sbecouncil.org

SBE Council is nonpartisan advocacy, research and education organization dedicated to protecting small business and promoting entrepreneurship. For more than 25 years, SBE Council has worked on and advanced a range of private sector and public policy initiatives to strengthen the ecosystem for strong startup activity and small business growth. Visit www.sbecouncil.org for additional information. Twitter: @SBECouncil

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