Meet the CC Summit Presenter: Dr. Muhammad Zaheer Abbas

Ony Anukem

Our ‘Meet the CC Summit Presenter’ series is taking us across the world, next up we head to Australia. Meet Dr. Muhammad Zaheer Abbas, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Faculty of Business and Law, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, Australia. He has undertaken extensive research on public health dimensions of intellectual property laws. He has written about TRIPS Agreement’s public health flexibilities, like compulsory licensing (Journal of World Intellectual Property, 2018), parallel importation (Journal of Generic Medicines, 2021), and patent opposition (Global Public Health, 2020). He has evaluated the possibility of invoking trade-related security exceptions (ANZSIL Perspective, 2021), the practical implications of ‘vaccine nationalism’ (South Views 2020), and the importance of localized supply chains (South Views, 2021). He has also analyzed policy options like patent pooling (Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 2020), tiered pricing (Journal of Generic Medicines, 2020). Abbas has also considered the implications of free trade agreements (Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal, 2018) and evergreening (Journal of Generic Medicines, 2019) for affordable and equitable access to essential medicines. He has been providing expert commentary on the issue of access to vaccines and other COVID-related health technologies during the current pandemic.

Based in📍: Brisbane, Australia

Summit Session: Inefficiency of the TRIPS Agreement’s Article 31bis Mechanism: The Bolivia-Biolyse Case

How did you get involved with Creative Commons?

I was introduced to Creative Commons by Professor Matthew Rimmer – previously my PhD supervisor, and currently my colleague and mentor at the Faculty of Business and Law, Queensland University of Technology, Australia.

Why are you an advocate for Open?

I have been advocating for improved access to affordable medicines for almost a decade now. I have mostly dealt with patent law barriers in accessing innovative health technologies. I understand the access barriers posed by copyright laws in the domain of education and science. I advocate for Open, as it is the way to more equitable and inclusive outcomes.

“Better sharing is key to a brighter future. We need to adopt inclusive and equitable approaches in terms of sharing the knowledge and resources, making sure that no one is left behind.”

What is your proudest achievement?

I am a modest early-career academic researcher eager to learn and contribute positively to society. I will see it as an achievement if I remain focused and consistent in making my humble efforts.

What is the best part of what you do? What is the most difficult part of what you do?

The best and satisfying part of my academic work is that it is motivated by concerns for humanity and aimed at protecting the public interest. It is frustrating that mostly nothing is done at national and international levels to address the adequately highlighted public policy concerns.

What is the biggest setback you have experienced? How did you overcome it?

Life has been kind to me so far.

If you could only leave people with one message from your summit presentation, what would it be?

We must always raise our voice for justice and fairness. The safeguard mechanisms – like compulsory licensing – that we put in place in response to HIV/AIDS are not delivering their intended results. There is a need to revisit and fix the broken systems if we are serious in suppressing the current COVID-19 pandemic in a timely manner.

What was the best career advice you ever received?

Make values based decisions and try to build goodwill. Be humble, open-minded, and respectful, and acknowledge the contributions of others. 

What would you like to say to Creative Commons on our 20th anniversary?

Keep up the great work!

What does ‘Better Sharing, Brighter Future’ mean to you?

Better sharing is key to a brighter future. We need to adopt inclusive and equitable approaches in terms of sharing the knowledge and resources, making sure that no one is left behind.

Reserve a spot at the 2021 CC Global Summit, taking place virtually on September 20-24! Register here >>