Patents as political tools?

This case is a very good example of how much the granting of patents (or the non-granting!) can amount to a political decision of a state, rather than simply a commercial one.

The Venezuelan Government has recently rejected the application to file two patents by Bayer for antibiotic moxiflocaxin on the basis that the product was not new.  The reason why it was not “new” was because a few years earlier Bayer tried to patent its antibiotic but was rejected because the law of the time, Industrial Property Law 1956, excluded pharmaceutical patents.  However, the decision to apply the reinstated 1956 law in 2009 is on the basis of the Andean Community Decisions which states that a patent must be examined under the law in force at the time the application was filed.

I think the reasons given for rejection by the Venezuelan Minister of Commerce are confusing and are not convincing, especially when she justifies this decision by claiming that “Bayer would put everyone’s health at risk” even if moxiflocaxin does not appear on WHO’s essential medicines list.  The socialist approach of the Venezuelan government is obvious, and one wonders how much political agendas determine IP rulings in other jurisdictions.

You can read about the case here (even though unfortunately it is only in Spanish!)

Post written by Francesca Re Manning, consultant to CAS-IP

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