[Ip-health] IAM's 9 Mar 2021 article "Covid-19 patent landscape confusion is a big concern for life sciences organisations"

Aleksandr Belinskiy abelinskiy at aol.com
Sun Mar 14 16:14:59 PDT 2021

>From IAM's  9 Mar 2021 article "Covid-19 patent landscape confusion is a big concern for life sciences organisations"...
What we know about covid-19 patent filings so far
To gain early insights into what this IP landscape will look like, IAM spoke to Osmat Azzam Jefferson, Professor of Law and Technology at Queensland University of Technology and product lead at The Lens – an open platform that provides data on patent holdings and scholarly articles in the life sciences.Using The Lens’ patent database, Jefferson has been able to chart emerging trends in the covid-19 patent map. Given that most major patent offices have pursued fast-track policies since the beginning of the pandemic, more information is available than would otherwise be the case at this stage.It suggests that there are 1,410 inventions (simple patent families) pertaining to covid-19, corresponding to 1,551 patent records filed since 10th January 2020, Jefferson states. These relate to 1,347 published patent applications and 117 issued patents.  China’s CNIPA has received more filings than any other registry, followed by WIPO, the USPTO and the UKIPO. Internationally, filings are focused on antivirals-RNA viruses, diagnostics and therapeutics. 
Potential freedom-to-operate and medical access problems...The lack of clarity in ownership rights and licensing information “can lead to onerous licensing and possible litigation,” Jefferson cautions, while patent claims filed before the pandemic “may stop further use of [a newly-released] product or put an impost on it”.Uncertainty may even deter investment in new technologies, she cautions. Patents, if insufficiently understood or improperly licensed, “could create a crisis within a crisis, slowing the pace of coronavirus research and impeding rather than facilitate access” to therapeutics and diagnostics....
What this says about the IP system
For Jefferson – an advocate of a more open innovation model – the pandemic has “exposed pre-existing fault lines in our innovation system”. As the ecosystem becomes more complex and dynamic, with patentees making increasingly broad claims: “Freedom-to-operate barriers will become more difficult and expensive to navigate, requiring businesses (or those that can afford) to take up multiple licences early on to avoid risks of infringement.”Among her suggested changes are move towards a more transparent mapping of innovation partnerships, opportunities, risks and trajectories” – including faster patent publications – and an amendment of the current patent system in healthcare and food systems away from the “right to exclude” and towards “a right to include”.While many of IAM’s readers may not be persuaded by these proposals, it is certainly important for life sciences organisations to keep a watchful eye on the fast-changing covid-19 patent landscape.
Adam Houldsworth, Author | Life sciences reporter

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