Crisis-Critical Intellectual Property: Findings from the COVID-19 Pandemic
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Within national and international innovation systems a pandemic calls for large-scale action by many actors across sectors, to mobilise resources, developing and manufacturing Crisis-Critical Products (CC-Products) efficiently and in the huge quantities needed. Nowadays, this also includes digital innovations from complex epidemiological models, AI, to open data platforms for prevention, diagnostic and treatment. Amongst the many challenges during a pandemic, innovation and manufacturing stakeholders find themselves engaged in new relationships, and are likely to face intellectual property (IP) related challenges. This paper adopts an IP perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic to identify pandemic related IP considerations and IP challenges. The focus is on challenges related to research, development and urgent upscaling of capacity to manufacture CC-Products in the huge volumes suddenly in demand. Its purpose is to provide a structure for steering clear of IP challenges to avoid delays in fighting a pandemic. We identify 4 stakeholder groups concerned with IP challenges: (i) governments, (ii) organisations owning existing Crisis-Critical IP, described as incumbents in Crisis-Critical Sectors (CC-Sectors), (iii) manufacturing firms from other sectors normally not producing CC-Products suddenly rushing into CC-Sectors to support the manufacturing of CC-Products (new entrants), and (iv) voluntary grassroot initiatives that are formed during a pandemic. This paper discusses IP challenges related to the development and manufacturing of technologies and products for (i) prevention (of spread), (ii) diagnosis of infected patients and (iii) the development of treatments. We offer an initial discussion of potential response measures to reduce IP associated risks among industrial stakeholders during a pandemic.
Crisis, pandemic, intellectual property, licensing, patent pledge, compulsory licensing, incumbents, new entrants, COVID-19