Experts: World Intellectual Property Day | April 26

Published: 23 April 2021

The World Intellectual Property Day shines a light on the critical role of small and medium-sized enterprises in the economy and how they can use intellectual property (IP) rights to build stronger, more competitive, and resilient businesses. (World International Property Organization)

Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:

Gabriella Coleman, Associate Professor, Department of Art History & Communication Studies

The World Intellectual Property Day provides an opportune time to reflect on the pros and cons of national and international IP regimes. While patents, for instance, do spur innovation, they can also cost lives—as the current pandemic demonstrates. Intellectual property works best when it’s treated as one option among others. In some contexts, like a pandemic, compulsory licensing yields practical and moral benefits that outweigh the traditional monopolies afforded by patents. More so, we now have decades of alternatives schemes, largely in the open source, open science, and right to repair movements, that allow us to tangibly assess which model, for what purpose, and what time works best and for what purpose.”

Gabriella Coleman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art History & Communication Studies, where she holds the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, she conducts research on computer hackers and digital activism.

gabriella.coleman [at] (English)

Richard Gold, James McGill Professor, Faculty of Law

There are two interrelated stories about the COVID-19 pandemic that relate to intellectual property. It was by using IP that firms, such as Moderna and BioNTech, developed the platform on which they created their vaccines. It is also IP that stands in the way of developing countries being able to manufacture and sell vaccines, increasing the opportunity for the rise of new and more deadly variants. We must recognize both these aspects of IP and find ways to decrease the harms while drawing on the strengths. More sharing, more focused IP, and more collaboration form part of the solution.”

Richard Gold is a James McGill Professor and is the founding Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy. He teaches in the area of intellectual property, international intellectual property, comparative intellectual property, innovation policy and intellectual property management.

richard.gold2 [at] (English, French)

Back to top