Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, but also to symbols, names, images, designs and models used in commercial trade. 

There are two branches to Intellectual property:

Literary and artistic property, which applies to creations of the mind. On the one hand it covers copyright and concerns literary and artistic works such as novels, poems, films, musical works and works of art such as drawings, paintings, photographs, and sculpture; and on the other hand it covers other rights, that are similar to copyright, held by performing artists over their performances, by producers of sound recordings over their recordings, and broadcasters over their radio or television programs.

Industrial property which protects technical discoveries (patents), ornamental creations (drawings and models) and distinctive signs (commercial trademarks, corporate signs, domain names, other names). With regard to drugs, it concerns above all the question of industrial property rights on trade marks and patents. 

How is a drug protected by an industrial property right? 

The drug is protected by industrial property law if a patent has been filed to protect it and if it possesses a distinguishing trade mark or a protected design and model.


How is industrial property a means of effectively combating the traffic of fake medicines?

“Drug counterfeiting is not a problem of intellectual property. It is first and foremost a problem of public health. This is the fundamental point. The problems of intellectual property may exist, but they are secondary to the problems of public health. » This sentence of Prof. Amor Toumi, Advisor to the WHO, recalls how intellectual property rights, alone, cannot apprehend the magnitude and the specificities of the issues raised by fake medicine trafficking which has become a global health scourge causing the death of millions of people. This is all the more true that the drug counterfeiters copy both brand name and generic products.


How are industrial property rights violated in the case of medicines? 

Any infringement of an industrial property right is considered as counterfeiting. The manufacturing, marketing, detention, sale, offer for sale, import, export, use, production, reproduction, imitation, affixing, usage of an industrial property… without the consent of the owner of the copyright are considered prohibited by the law.


What are the limits of industrial property rights with regard to medicines? 

These limits may differ depending on the country and applicable regulations.


Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA): a treaty to respond to global counterfeiting issues? 

Initiated in 2008, ACTA or the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is an ambitious project to obtain the signing of an international treaty to strengthen intellectual property rights and gain in efficiency in the fight against counterfeiting in all its forms.