Intellectual Property in a Pandemic: The Proposed COVID-19 WTO Waiver

In October 2020, India and South Africa filed a request at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to create an exemption from an international treaty known as TRIPS (Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) for technologies, drugs, and vaccines used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. If the WTO adopts the waiver, countries could refuse to issue and protect IP rights for those technologies.

Some argue that the waiver is a necessary measure that would give a boost to the global fight against COVID-19, but others contend it would do little to help defeat the current pandemic and could hinder future innovation. An expert panel joined us to discuss the proposed waiver and weigh the arguments on each side of the debate.

In October, members of RTP’s Intellectual Property Working Group published a white paper on the same topic, which you can read here.

Andrei Iancu


Irell & Manella LLP

David Kappos


Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP

Arti Rai

Elvin R. Latty Professor of Law

Duke University School of Law

Saurabh Vishnubhakat

Professor of Law

Texas A&M University School of Law

Intellectual Property

The Federalist Society and Regulatory Transparency Project take no position on particular legal or public policy matters. All expressions of opinion are those of the speaker(s). To join the debate, please email us at

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