June 27, 2005

AIDS, patents and Brazil

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:26 am by thelawthoughts

This link is great news. In essence, Brazil has decided to break the patent on the AIDS drug sold by Abbott Labs, a US drug company.

Under the TRIPs Agreement, which every WTO Member is obliged to sign up to, countries have an obligation to protect the patents of any drug which remains inside the patent protection period of 20 years. So far, so good. Drug companies have their patents as well as an iron-clad mechanism to prevent governments in developing countries from taking their ‘rightful’ profits.

I am in favour of intellectual property protection in general, but not for life saving drugs such as AIDS anti-retrovirals. Governments of developing countries tend to be on the same side. Indeed, in Art 31 of the TRIPs Agreement, a government is entitled to ‘compulsorily licence’ a drug their citizens cannot afford, in times of national emergency. I have argued in a recent essay and would argue again here that the AIDS crisis in developing countries is indeed a time of national emergency. In essence, this means governments can produce the drug internally and sell it at generic cost, effectively short-circuiting the patent of the drug company.

This sounds very useful and, according to the provisions of the TRIPs Agreement, is useful. However, drug companies tend to get a bit shirty when this mechanism is actually invoked. A group of drug companies took their case to the South African Constitutional Court to prevent the government producing their patented drugs generically. Also, when Brazil last threatened to invoke the compuslory licensing mechanism, the US took them to the WTO Dispute System. Subsequently, Brazil decided that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea.

As I see it, whenever the mechanism is triggered, drug companies and governments of countries in which these companies are incorporated go nuts. Even though this is a perfectly valid course of action, those holding patents over the drugs will do anything they can to prevent their drugs being administered without them getting the profit.

It is wonderful to see a government actually tell these drug companies where to get off. The mechanism is in place for a reason, because as a society we need to recognise how important life saving medicines are. The rights of those suffering these diseases conflict with the rights granted for patent protection. However, where WTO law provides for the overriding of these rights, a valid exercise of that right by a developing country government should not be challenged.

I will watch with interest to see where this case heads in the near future.

June 22, 2005

Most shoplifted items

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:12 pm by thelawthoughts

Interested in finding out which items are most shoplifted? Click here. Funny that most of them are drugs. Also interesting the list is headed “Organised Retail Theft”.

Home schooling

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:56 pm by thelawthoughts

I didn’t realise people would actually do this to their kids. Surely, kids who are taught at home are not very well adjusted. Parents cannot be expert in every subject category and surely these kids are not receiving a proper education.

Further, if you don’t want to send your kids to a high school, you can hardly then pressure the school to provide extracurricular activities for your home schooled child. If you want to teach your child at home and he or she wants to join the athletics team, then you may just have to organise a track meeting in the backyard and get all your kids involved.

June 17, 2005

Shortened Copyright durations

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:51 pm by thelawthoughts

An interesting US law would shorten the duration of copyright to 50 years. After this period, the owner must pay $1 to maintain their copyright. If they don’t, it lapses. Therefore it is easy to maintain a copyright for a longer period, however those who, for example, have passed away and no longer ‘need’ their copyright, have it lapse and the work moves into the public domain.

Child Sex Offender

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:41 pm by thelawthoughts

From Crim Prof Blog, this is truly scary. A child molester with, the police believe, up to 36,000 victims.

UN Reform

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:35 pm by thelawthoughts

It is good to see the US finally backing UN reform, even if it is not as extensive a reform as has been proposed. The US is prepared to allow two new permanent members of the Security Council, one is likely to be Japan, the other one of Brazil, India, South Africa and (I think) Germany.

I read somewhere the other day that the proposal was to expand the Council to 25 Members, 10 of them permanent. This would accommodate the big countries seeking a permanent seat. However, these countries, as part of their proposal, were to obtain veto power. That seems to me to be slightly ridiculous. The veto system is essentially unworkable as it is, it would be counterproductive to expand the number of countries whose consent is required before action can take place.

Anyway, at least movement is afoot.

June 16, 2005

Self Defence Craziness

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:05 am by thelawthoughts

I am just catching up on my reading (the May 14th Economist) and found, on page 36, an assertion that Florida has just passed what they call a ‘right to shoot’ law. In essence, The Economist says, this law gives a citizen the right to shoot a person who attacks them on the street. Now, I haven’t read the legislation (can’t find it here), but Good Lord! What kind of craziness is that?

I am reminded of a friend who recently did an essay on Australia’s recent enactment of anti-terrorism laws. In essence, she found there was no need for these laws, as the crimes they provided for fit into the definitions of existing crimes, such as murder etc. Surely, the existing laws of self-defence would be sufficient and, if they are not, then is it right to pass legislation which provides for what might be found as excessive self-defence in this one situation? Why not allow a person to shoot another if the second is a road rager?

My point is that self defence as a doctrine should encapsulate rules, which should be applied to the specific situation, rather than setting out the special situations themselves.

June 13, 2005

Italy’s assisted reproduction

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:51 am by thelawthoughts

Seems that not many people, 13% in fact, care in enough in Italy to vote on whether assisted reproduction laws should be relaxed. What do we think of our own assisted reproduction laws? Anyone want to comment?

June 1, 2005

Amnesty Report absurd?

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:06 am by thelawthoughts

In response to Amnesty’s report last week, which I believe placed the US with Sudan and Zimbabwe as the worst human rights offenders in the world, was labelled ‘absurd’ by George Bush. Think what you will, I think Amnesty has a point.