More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a clearer picture of how the patent community responded to the rush to develop COVID-19 vaccines: patent pledges.  Patent pledges are voluntary, public commitments that a patent holder makes to refrain from exercising some or all of its patent rights, including suing for patent infringement.  Prior examples of patent pledges can be found in the automotive industry (e.g., electric vehicle makers Tesla and Toyota), the software industry (e.g., IBM and Google relating to open-source code), and in the biotechnology industry (e.g., Monsanto relating to genetically modified seeds and Myriad’s pledge not to assert its DNA patents against academic researchers).  In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many patent holders pledged not to enforce patents needed for vaccine development, the frontline immunotherapy for combating COVID-19.  By April 2020, the Open COVID Pledge platform had been formed, allowing for the large-scale pledging not to enforce COVID-19 vaccine-related patents until the end of the pandemic, as declared by WHO, or January 1, 2023 (likely to be extended).

Continue Reading During a Public Health Emergency Should Patents Covering Vaccine Development Be Treated as Standard Essential Patents? (Part 1 of 2)