Managing IP’s COVID-19 resource hub
Our stories make sense of what the fast-moving developments mean for practitioners, counsel and all other stakeholders globally
The full list of stories can be found below.
As COVID-19 continues to tread a destructive path in all areas of society, nearly every industry and profession has been affected. The intellectual property world is not exempt from these changes, of course, and the people and systems within it face uncertain times. At Managing IP we are endeavouring to make sense of what the fast-moving developments mean for practitioners, counsel and all other stakeholders globally.
Despite the widespread damage and affliction caused by COVID-19, it seems that – for the time being at least – patent portfolios have been largely unaffected.
As Managing IP’s reporter Charlotte Kilpatrick found in a recent article, budget constraints have not forced in-house counsel to cut their portfolios to save on renewal costs. Instead, the pandemic has only made IP departments apply more scrutiny when examining their portfolios.
However, although the crisis has not forced many departments to slash budgets yet, in the meantime they could seize the opportunity to do a little spring-cleaning of their patent assets.
Law firms globally can expect in-house counsel to send them a wave of COVID-created litigation work in the next few months despite many external lawyers being asked to reduce their rates, according to a survey by Euromoney’s Legal Media Group (LMG) and Euromoney Thought Leadership Consulting.
In May, LMG – whose titles include Managing IP, ITR and IFLR – surveyed 435 senior legal and company officials about the impact of COVID-19 on their legal work. General counsel, heads of legal and other figures including chief executives, all from a range of countries and industries and companies of various sizes, took part.
In asking what type of work counsel will send to external law firms in the next three months, we found that nearly a third (31%) of respondents will be keeping advisers busy with litigation/dispute resolution. This represented a significant jump from the 15% figure when we asked the same question but applied it to the situation today.
Judges and litigators told Americas editor Patrick Wingrove about how the COVID-19 courtroom shutdown has highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of holding hearings on virtual platforms.
Judges cannot conduct jury trials virtually at the moment, but they have endeavoured to hold judicial conferences that don’t require in-person hearings.
While this development has shown that there are inherent communication shortcomings when conducting hearings from afar, they said, online hearings have been shown to work and – more than that – to create case management efficiencies.
The US is not the only country to experiment with digital justice, of course.
In India, courts have risen to the need for virtual trials since the country went into lockdown in March. On April 6, the Supreme Court issued a number of directions to courts across the country to facilitate hearings through video conferencing.
However, there is some way to go, as Asia reporter Karry Lai found out by speaking to lawyers in the country. From practical problems such as poor internet connections and power cuts to wider debates of open justice and access to proceedings, Indian courts are facing a myriad of challenges in virtual trials.
After speaking with in-house sources at pharma companies, reporter Charlotte Kilpatrick learned that they have mixed emotions about mounting pressure from governments, the World Health Organization and research institutions to give up patent rights to find a cure for COVID-19.
Innovators are eager to find a vaccine, but the threat of having their IP seized leaves some companies wondering what precedent this pandemic will set.
Other in-house lawyers told Charlotte that compulsory licensing could create problems down the line when researching vaccines. A better alternative to compulsory licensing is to strengthen public and private sector collaborations that are working hard to find COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.
“Many people will come out of this and realise that they probably didn’t need to be doing a lot of the things they were.” That was the prediction of one lawyer trying to foresee the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to senior reporter Max Walters, a mixture of in-house IP counsel and private practice lawyers predicted that if we get accustomed to doing business effectively over apps like Skype and Teams then it may reduce the need for regular international travel to meet clients and colleagues.
One lawyer also predicted that some law firms may look to scale back their office space – and save money in the process – should home working become far more common.
Stay up to date
As our reporters and editors provide more insight on COVID-19 developments, we will update the below list of stories for you.
IT problems put justice on hold in France [April 23]