In this Statement, the authors take a position on the waiver of intellectual property (IP) protection currently being considered by the members of the World Trade Organisation. The waiver was initiated by India and South Africa as a measure to enable rapid access to affordable medical products that are necessary to combat Covid-19. The initiative gained momentum after the US decided to support it. The authors do not consider this path to be expedient. The Statement presents factual and legal arguments why a comprehensive waiver of IP protection is unlikely to be a necessary and suitable measure towards the pursued objective. Overall, it argues that IP rights may so far have played an enabling and facilitating rather than hindering role in overcoming Covid-19. The global community might not be better off if IP rights are waived, neither during nor after the pandemic. There are more efficient and direct ways to supply developing countries with vaccines quickly – if the industrialised countries are willing to do their share.
Also published as: Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition Research Paper No. 21-13