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04 January 2021
Companies, and their lawyers, go to great lengths to protect their intellectual property, as they should. But a new trend may have emerged – the granting of free licences, for a limited duration, to help with the COVID-19 battle.
On 30 March 2020 Medtronic plc announced that it was publicly sharing the design specifications for the Puritan Bennett 560 (PB 560) ventilator so that participants across different industries can evaluate options for rapid ventilator manufacturing to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, on 30 March 2020 a group of scientists, lawyers, entrepreneurs and individuals who describe themselves as "working to promote the removal of obstacles involving intellectual property in the fight against COVID-19" launched the Open COVID Pledge. The Open COVID Pledge asks that individuals, institutions, companies and other organisations that hold IP rights (specifically, patents and copyrights) pledge to allow others to use their intellectual property, free of charge, in the fight against COVID-19. The two components of the pledge are:
Granting such a licence is a bold step. Companies may be willing to grant such a licence but prefer to grant a customised license with the assistance of legal counsel. Alternatively, companies may seek rights from other entities for an endeavour that they wish to undertake as part of the COVID-19 battle. Companies should consider the issues relevant to them and enlist counsel as appropriate.
For further information on this topic please contact Linda J Zirkelbach at Venable LLP by telephone (+1 410 244 7400) or email (email@example.com). The Venable LLP website can be accessed at www.venable.com.
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