Why trade secrets matter: Covid vaccine manufacturing scale-up and the WTO’s proposed IP waiver

Tuesday, September 14, 2021 - 09:00


Some argue that suspending intellectual property (IP) rights to allow any company to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines is the key to faster access for developing countries and a swift end to the pandemic. These arguments have culminated in a proposal at the World Trade Organization for a temporary global waiver on Covid-19-related IP rights.

Implementing such an IP waiver throws up many practical challenges, not least the problem of trade secrets, a key IP right that protects the complex manufacturing processes that underpin the production of Covid-19 vaccines. Without access to these trade secrets, rival manufacturers cannot make generic versions of proprietary vaccines.

Please join Geneva Network for a discussion on the role of trade secrets in Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing. A panel of global experts will shed light on how trade secrets work, how they relate to vaccine manufacturing, and the implications of the IP waiver currently under discussion at the WTO.


Speaker - James Pooley
Former Deputy Director-General, @World Intellectual Property Organization & author “Secrets: managing information assets in the the age of cyberespionage”
Speaker - Mark Schultz
Professor of Intellectual Property Law, University of Akron and co-author of the Global Trade Secrets Protection Index
Speaker - Jayashree Watal
Honorary Professor, National Law University New Delhi, former WTO negotiator for the government of India, and IP Counsellor @the World Trade Organization
Moderator - Philip Stevens
Executive Director, Geneva Network