COVID-19 calls some Intellectual Property into question

On Behalf of | May 15, 2020 | Firm News

Most business sectors in the US have taken a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic as the new novel Coronavirus has swept rapidly across the globe, shuttering businesses and causing an economic nosedive.

Another disruption is in the interest of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), which is currently being called into question out of a need to produce mass numbers of devices, tools, and equipment to help fight the pandemic and reduce the spread of the virus.

Certain products and knowledge realms protected under IPR laws may require shifting to greater accessibility for the common good. This can include physical products, but scientific and medical knowledge is subject as well.

Agreements and pledges to allow IPR access

Several education institutions in the US have announced a “COVID-19 Technology Access Framework,” which essentially pledges to allow IPR licensure holdings to be deployed in any attempts to fight, slow, and eliminate the virus and its spread.

A similar pledge exists among tech firms and businesses. This gesture is temporary, has limitations on it and stipulations for anyone accessing the products or knowledge, but it represents a unique lifting of pressure off of what is sometimes a contentious issue.

Protecting against price gouging

The company 3M filed a lawsuit in a Manhattan court attempted to prevent exploitation and price gauging among defendants utilizing the company’s N-95 mask design. There may be additional lawsuits in the future as more IPRs are released for the benefit of the public good.

While the altruism is needed in this moment of national crisis, it’s important to ensure against exploitation or improper use of IPR licensing, as 3M made the effort to do. An attorney with experience handling intellectual property law can provide guidance on protecting your own IPRs in a time of uncertainty.