Annual World Life Sciences Conference

Wednesday 27 July 2022

Özge Atilgan Karakulak
Gun & Partners, Istanbul


Alejandro Luna
Olivares, Mexico City


Dr Deepa K Tiku
K&S Partners, Gurgaon


At the recently concluded 8th Annual World Life Sciences Conference in Paris, friends and colleagues across the world finally met in person to discuss a wide array of topics from different sectors of the healthcare and life sciences industry. The International Bar Association (IBA) was the responsible host, and the conference was co-presented by the IBA Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law Committee, the IBA Technology Law Committee and the IBA Healthcare and Life Sciences Law Committee. The conference co-chairs this year were Özge Atilgan Karakulak and Alejandro Luna Fandiño, both Co-Chairs of the IBA Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law Committee, Yuval Horn, Member of the IBA Technology Law Committee Advisory Board and Cécile Théard-Jallu, Vice-Chair in the IBA Healthcare and Life Sciences Law Committee.

The conference was hosted in the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel in Paris and was concluded with a tour of one of the most charming Parisian neighborhoods, Montmartre. The beautiful city with its delicious food and wine, in addition to a great atmosphere and a carefully curated program and top-notch panels only added to the quality of content that this conference presents.

Some key sessions included discussions regarding intellectual property stakes to tackle the Covid-19 virus and other diseases, the development of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare and the sharing of health data in support of innovation and patent Infowars. There were further discussions regarding recent changes and opportunities in medical and recreational cannabis, new investment models in life sciences companies and international transparency and cooperation for pricing/reimbursement. The panel on ‘Beyond data protection: wider legal and ethical considerations around data collection and use’, for instance, shared interesting thoughts around the various Intellectual Property (IP) rights subsisting in data in a pharmaceutical context, concerns surrounding ownership of, and rights to use, data both in a traditional research and development context as well as data generated through data mining and AI.

Specifically, the panel on ‘Compulsory licensing or competition arrangements: a new way to access medicines and vaccines?’ comprised an interesting combination of speakers who discussed the fascinating overlap of anti-trust or competition law and IP in the wake of the global pandemic and how the governments provided capital, pharmaceutical companies, large and small biotechnology companies collaborated and universities pooled knowledge. The panel provided perspectives from the pharmaceutical industry, IP and the proposed waivers at the World Trade Organization for Covid-19 vaccines and how, even with the waiver, regulatory roadblocks and problems of scale still remain. The panel provided insight as to how (or if) the intellectual property or competition laws of different countries helped the innovation of new medical technologies related to Covid-19 and recent discussions and examples around business rationales, voluntary/compulsory licensing, antitrust and key contractual issues. The Indian landscape came out as a case in example. The panel also discussed collaborations between competitors and how competition must be rephrased as ‘Coopetition’! The panel was wonderfully moderated by Özge Atilgan and Jason Jardine prompting questions from the audience leading to an engaging exchange.

For the second time the conference also included a moot court to engage the audience. This year placed focus on vaccine liability in Covid-19. The moot was based on a hypothetical case scenario about the infringement of patent rights and know-how in the context of a supply agreement for the manufacture and distribution of Covid-19 treatments worldwide. A claimant and respondent counsel team presented their positions and legal arguments, and afterwards dispute resolution experts mediated and arbitrated the dispute in accordance with recognised legal standards and international practices. Both teams discussed relevant legal, contractual, and statutory issues in life science disputes, as well as procedural considerations particular to international arbitration and mediation proceedings and cross-border provisional measures and their enforcement. The introduction was made by Lorenza Ferrari, Daniel Reich, and Alejandro Luna. In charge of the arbitral tribunal was Phillipp Groz, Dr Pierrick Le Goff and Daniel Reich, and the mediator in charge was Conna A Weiner.

A total of 145 participants, from 38 different countries, took part in the conference this year. Everyone seemed very happy and satisfied with the year’s programme, and the weekend. We are already looking forward to participating next year!