State Use Provisions for Patent Law, and Expropriations: Some Comparative Law Guidelines for South Africa during the Covid-19 Crisis and Beyond

  • Mikhalien Du Bois UNISA
Keywords: intellectual property law, Constitutional property law, patent law, state use of patents, government use of patents, Crown use of patents, patent utilisation, public use, TRIPS Article 31, TRIPS exceptions, expropriations, takings, national disaster, national emergency, COVID-19.

Abstract

This article views section 4 of the Patents Act 57 of 1978 against section 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 and Article 31 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights of 1994 (hereafter TRIPS). The purpose is to find a suitable framework for the state/government use/utilisation of patented products or processes for public purposes. A comparison is done with the Crown use provisions in United Kingdom, Australian and Canadian law to find a suitable approach to questions relating to remuneration for state use, the prior negotiations requirement set by Article 31 of TRIPS, and the public purposes and exclusive patent rights that would be included under state use. The COVID-19 international pandemic has caused a state of national disaster in South Africa, which is exactly the kind of situation of extreme urgency envisioned by the exception in Article 31 of TRIPS, which permits the state use of patents without requiring prior negotiations with the patent owner. In the battle against COVID-19 and its concomitant fallout, the South African government (and authorised private parties) would be permitted to utilise patent rights without explicit authorisation from the patent owner and without prior negotiations, but subject to the payment of reasonable remuneration by the government and other terms and conditions as agreed upon or as determined by a court. This may include making (manufacturing), using, exercising, and importing patented products (for example, personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals, ventilators and diagnostic tests) deemed necessary in the fight against COVID-19. Foreign jurisdictions considered in this article indicate that section 4 of the Patents Act 57 of 1978 may certainly benefit from an update to provide detailed guidance on the state use of patented products or processes for public purposes. In the interest of a timeous offensive against the COVID-19 virus, the patent provisions need a speedy update to allow state use compliant with TRIPS and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.

GS62.png

Author Biography

Mikhalien Du Bois, UNISA

Mercantile Law, Senior Lecturer

References

Bibliography

Literature

Alberts W "What is Intellectual Property?" 2007 De Rebus 45-46

Australian Law Reform Commission Genes and Ingenuity: Gene Patenting and Human Health (Australian Law Reform Commission Sydney 2004)

Banks MAL The British Patent System: Report of the Committee to Examine the Patent System and Patent Law (HMSO London 1970)

Bently L et al. Intellectual Property Law 5th ed (Oxford University Press Oxford 2018)

Biagio D "Commercial Considerations for Transactions Involving Intellectual Property" in Dean O and Dyer A (eds) Dean and Dyer Introduction to Intellectual Property Law (Oxford University Press Cape Town 2014) 360-389

Bodkin C Patent Law in Australia 2nd ed (Thomson Reuters Sydney 2014)

Bowrey K, Handler M and Nicol D Australian Intellectual Property: Commentary, Law and Practice (Oxford University Press South Melbourne 2010)

Burrell TD Burrells South African Patent and Design Law 4th ed (LexisNexis Durban 2016)

Cornish W, Llewelyn D and Aplin T Intellectual Property: Patents, Copyright, Trade Marks and Allied Rights 7th ed (Sweet and Maxwell London 2010)

Davison MJ, Monotti AL and Wiseman L Australian Intellectual Property Law 3rd ed (Cambridge University Press Port Melbourne 2016)

De Carvalho NP The TRIPS Regime of Patents and Test Data 5th ed (Wolters Kluwer International Alphen aan den Rijn 2018)

Du Bois M "Intellectual Property as a Constitutional Property Right: The South African Approach" 2012 SA Merc LJ 177-193

Du Bois M "Justificatory Theories for Intellectual Property Viewed through the Constitutional Prism" 2018 PELJ 1-38

Du Bois M "The Appropriate Scope of Property Rights in Patents" 2018 SAIPLJ 67-91

Du Bois M and Shay RM "Regulation at the Edge of the Property Concept: Judicial Treatment of Intangible Interests" in Muller G et al. (eds) Transformative Property Law: Festschrift in Honour of AJ van der Walt (Juta Cape Town 2018) 419-446

Gerntholtz ROP Principles of South African Patent Law and a Comparative Reference to German Patent Law (Juta Cape Town 1971)

Grant T "Patents" in Dean O and Dyer A (eds) Dean and Dyer Introduction to Intellectual Property Law (Oxford University Press Cape Town 2014) 237-282

Hoops B "Expropriation without Compensation: A Yawning Gap in the Justification of Expropriation?" 2019 SALJ 261-302

May C and Sell SK Intellectual Property Rights: A Critical History (Lynne Rienner London 2006)

Nielsen J and Nicol D "Whither Patent Use without Authorisation in Australia?" 2008 Fed L Rev 333-364

Nielsen J et al. "Another Missed Opportunity to Reform Compulsory Licenses and Crown Use in Australia" 2014 AIPJ 74-92

O'Sullivan C and Rolls C Practical Guide to Australian Patent Law (Lawbook Co Sydney 2003)

Park C, Prabhala A and Berger J Using Law to Accelerate Treatment Access in South Africa: An Analysis of Patent, Competition and Medicines Law (UNDP New York 2013)

Ramsden P A Guide to Intellectual Property Law (Juta Cape Town 2011)

Reichman JH and Hasenzahl C Non-voluntary Licensing of Patented Inventions: The Canadian Experience (UNCTAD-ISTSD Capacity Building Project on Intellectual Property Rights and Sustainable Development Geneva 2002)

Reichman JH and Hasenzahl C Non-voluntary Licensing of Patented Inventions: Historical Perspective, Legal Framework under TRIPS, and an Overview of the Practice in Canada and the United States of America (UNCTAD-ICTSD Capacity Building Project on Intellectual Property Rights and Sustainable Development Geneva 2003)

Rushing S "Plugging the Leak in § 1498: Coercing the United States into Notifying Patent Owners of Government Use" 2012 Vand J Transnat'l L 879-916

Van Caenegem W "Patent Law – A City Council is an 'Authority of a State'" 1995 QLSJ 555-559

Van Caenegem W Intellectual Property Law and Innovation (Cambridge University Press Melbourne 2007)

Van Caenegem W Intellectual Property Law in Australia (Wolters Kluwer Law and Business Austin 2010)

Van der Merwe A "The Law of Patents" in Van der Merwe A et al. Law of Intellectual Property in South Africa 2nd ed (LexisNexis Durban 2016) 357-427

Van der Walt AJ Constitutional Property Law 3rd ed (Juta Cape Town 2011)

Van der Walt AJ and Shay RM "Constitutional Analysis of Intellectual Property" 2014 PELJ 52-85

Vaver D Intellectual Property Law: Copyright, Patents, Trade-marks 2nd ed (Irwin Law Toronto 2011)

Vawda YA "Analysing South Africa's Compulsory Licensing Jurisprudence: Is There Room for the Public Interest (PI) in Intellectual Property (IP)?" 2019 SAIPLJ 182-198

Vawda YA Compulsory Licensing Jurisprudence in South Africa: Do we have our Priorities Right? (South Centre Geneva 2018)

Vawda YA and Shozi B Eighteen Years after Doha: An Analysis of the Use of Public Health TRIPS Flexibilities in Africa (South Centre Geneva 2020)

Viljoen S "Expropriation without Compensation: Principled Decision-making instead of Arbitrariness in the Land Reform Context (Part 1)" 2020 TSAR 35-48

Case law

Australia

General Steel Industries Inc v Commissioner of Railways (NSW) (1964) 112 CLR 125

Stack v Brisbane City Council (1995) 32 IPR 69

Canada

MacDonald v Canada (1906) 10 Ex CR 338

South Africa

Ausplow (Pty) Ltd v Northpark Trading 3 (Pty) Ltd 2011 4 All SA 221 (SCA)

Ensign-Bickford (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd v AECI Explosives and Chemicals Ltd 1999 1 SA 70 (SCA)

Letraset Ltd v Helios Ltd 1972 3 SA 245 (A)

Merck Sharp Dohme Group v Cipla Agrimed (Pty) Ltd 2015 BIP 101 (SCA)

Premier Hangers CC v Polyoak (Pty) Ltd 1997 1 SA 416 (A)

Roman Roller CC v Speedmark Holdings (Pty) Ltd 1996 1 SA 405 (SCA)

Schlumberger-Logelco Inc v Coflexip SA 2000 3 SA 861 (SCA)

United Kingdom

Dixon v London Small Arms Co Ltd (1876) 1 App Cas 632 (HL)

Dory v Sheffield Health Authority [1991] FSR 221

Feathers v The Queen [1865] 6 B&S 257

Henry Brothers (Magherafelt) v Ministry of Defence [1999] RPC 442

IPCom GMBH & Co KG v Vodafone Group Plc [2020] EWHC 132 (Pat)

MMI Research v Cellxion [2009] EWHC 1533 (Pat)

Patchett's Patent [1967] FSR 249

Patchett's Patent [1967] RPC 237

Pfizer Corporation v Ministry of Health [1965] AC 512

Legislation

Australia

Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, 1900 (UK)

Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 2 and Other Measures) Act 9 of 2020

Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 2 and Other Measures) Regulations, 2020

Patents Act 83 of 1990

Patents (World Trade Organisation Amendments) Act, 1994 (Cth)

Canada

COVID-19 Emergency Response Act SC 2020 c 5

Patent Act RSC 1985

South Africa

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Designs Act 195 of 1993

Expropriation Act 63 of 1975

Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Act 38 of 1997

Patents Act 37 of 1952

Patents Act 57 of 1978

United Kingdom

Patents Act, 1977

Patents, Designs and Trade Marks Act, 1883 (IMP)

Statute of Monopolies, 1623

Venetian Statute, 1474

United States of America

Patents Act 35 USC

Tucker Act 28 USC

Government publications

Australia

Review of Legislation in the Fields of Patents, Layout-Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits, Protection of Undisclosed Information and Control of Anti-competitive Practices in Contractual Licences, Response to the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, World Trade Organisation, Geneva (1997)

South Africa

Draft Expropriation Bill, 2019 (GN 1409 in GG 42127 of 21 December 2018)

Draft Intellectual Property Policy of the Republic of South Africa Phase 1 2017 (Gen N 636 in GG 41064 of 25 August 2017)

Intellectual Property Policy of the Republic of South Africa Phase 1 2018 (Gen N 518 in GG 41870 of 31 August 2018)

International instruments

Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (1994)

Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health (2001)

Internet sources

Alexander GS 2013 Ownership and Obligations: The Human Flourishing Theory of Property https://scholarship.law.cornell.edu/facpub/653/ accessed 30 August 2020

Australian Government: Advisory Council on Intellectual Property 2005 Review of Crown Use Provisions for Patents and Designs https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/acip_final_report_review_of_crown_use_provisions_archived.pdf accessed 30 August 2020

Hay K et al. 2020 COVID-19: When Do Private Patent Rights Give Way to the Public Interest? https://corrs.com.au/insights/covid-19-when-do-private-patent-rights-give-way-to-the-public-interest accessed 3 April 2020

Australian Government: IP Australia 2020 Public Consultations: Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 2 and Other Measures) Act 2020 https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/about-us/public-consultations/intellectual-property-laws-amendment-productivity-commission-response accessed 12 March 2020

Published
2020-09-15
How to Cite
Du Bois, M. (2020). State Use Provisions for Patent Law, and Expropriations: Some Comparative Law Guidelines for South Africa during the Covid-19 Crisis and Beyond. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 23, 1-35. https://doi.org/10.17159/1727-3781/2020/v23i0a8150
Section
Articles