By Sarah Gabriele
On April 27, 2023, the European Commission proposed new legislation that would allow companies to make drugs without the patent holder’s consent in emergency situations. The proposed legislation constitutes a step forward in the European Union’s effort to harmonize patent law in the Union, after the establishment of Unitary Patents and the European Patent Court.
In its proposal, the EU Commission acknowledges that intellectual property rights, and, in particular, patent rights play an important role in access to medicine, especially during public health crises. The COVID-19 crisis demonstrated how the need for protecting and incentivizing innovation clashed with the need to make products widely available. To solve this tension, the Commission recognizes that patent law already offers a solution: compulsory licensing.