Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Pandemic Unpatenting

Among other legislative responses to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic the Canadian Parliament packed into its COVID-19 Emergency Response Act are several amendments to Canadian patent law:
PART 12
 
R.S., c. P-4
 
Patent Act
 
51  The Patent Act is amended by adding the following after section 19.3:
 
Application by Minister
19.4  (1)  The Commissioner shall, on the application of the Minister of Health, authorize the Government of Canada and any person specified in the application to make, construct, use and sell a patented invention to the extent necessary to respond to the public health emergency described in the application.
 
Contents of application
(2)  The application must
(a)  set out the name of the patentee and the number, as recorded in the Patent Office, of the patent issued in respect of the patented invention;
(b)  include a confirmation that the Chief Public Health Officer, appointed under subsection 6(1) of the Public Health Agency of Canada Act, believes that there is a public health emergency that is a matter of national concern;
(c)  include a description of the public health emergency; and
(d)  specify a person, if any, that is to be authorized to make, construct, use and sell the patented invention for the purposes of responding to the public health emergency.
 
Cessation of effect
(3)  The authorization ceases to have effect the earlier of
(a)  the day on which the Minister of Health notifies the Commissioner that the authorization is no longer necessary to respond to the public health emergency set out in the application, and
(b)  one year after the day on which it is granted.
 
Notice
(4)  The Commissioner shall notify the patentee of any authorization that is granted under this section and provide them with the information referred to in subsection (2).
 
Payment of remuneration
(5)  The Government of Canada and any person authorized under subsection (1) shall pay the patentee any amount that the Commissioner considers to be adequate remuneration in the circumstances, taking into account the economic value of the authorization and the extent to which they make, construct, use and sell the patented invention.
 
Authorization not transferable
(6)  An authorization granted under this section is not transferable.
 
For greater certainty
(7)  For greater certainty, the use or sale, in relation to a public health emergency, of a patented invention that is made or constructed in accordance with an authorization granted under this section is not an infringement of the patent.
 
Power of Federal Court
(8)  On the application of the patentee, the Federal Court may make an order requiring the Government of Canada or any person authorized under subsection (1) to cease making, constructing, using or selling the patented invention in a manner that is inconsistent with the authorization granted under this section.
 
Restriction
(9)  The Commissioner shall not make an authorization under subsection (1) after September 30, 2020.

How extensively, and with respect to which particular patented inventions, Canada will invoke this compulsory licensing provision by the end of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic remains to be seen.

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