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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.

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the world and having a devastating impact on many people’s lives. As countries go into lockdown and ramp up protection measures, the virus is treading a path of disruption in all areas of society.

The IP 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 these fast-moving developments mean for practitioners, counsel and all other stakeholders globally.

US courts shutdown shows virtual opportunities

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. You can read the full article here

Compulsory licensing jitters

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.

Known as compulsory licensing, the provisions would allow governments to waive patents without the consent of the rights holder. By doing this, governments ensure that generics companies can produce enough of the product to guarantee wide access and low prices. With the COVID-19 death tolls rising steadily every day, more countries including Israel and Canada are looking to strengthen their laws around compulsory licences.

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. You can read the full article here.

Other in-house lawyers tell Charlotte that compulsory licensing could create problems down the line researching future 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. 

Pulling together

The hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine is also making the scientific and pharmaceutical community rethink the benefits of the open source model for developing therapeutic treatments.

In another article by Charlotte, academics, researchers and in-house pharma attorneys said that through radical sharing and collaboration, open source medicine will help accelerate the discovery of a COVID-19 treatment and lead to cost-savings for companies and patients.

Much like open source forums for software, open medicine involves freely sharing data, know-how and tools with the wider community. Early stages of research are done in collaboration with universities and pharma companies, and all results are shared with each member. You can read the full article here.

Jet-set lifestyle on the wane?

“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.

A mixture of in-house IP counsel and private practice lawyers predict 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 predicts 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. Read more about these predictions and others in the full article.

Age-old practices

COVID-19 has already turned many people’s professional (and personal) worlds upside down, with remote working becoming mandatory and age-old practices being put to the test. To find out how IP lawyers and owners have been affected, our senior reporter Max Walters has spoken to several specialists about the overall impact on IP office procedures and more. You can read the full article here.

The pandemic has also shut courtrooms and moved justice online. Charlotte Kilpatrick spoke to Mr Justice Colin Birss of the England and Wales High Court to find out how he is adjusting to ruling not from the bench, but from his barn. Barristers and solicitors say there have been a few teething issues, but for the most part justice continues with the help of Skype and WhatsApp. You can read the article here

Fast-moving landscape

These articles provide just a taste of how impactful COVID-19 is likely to be on IP. The race to innovate may throw up incredibly challenging questions, perhaps some that have never been tested before. We are already seeing reports that a medical device company in Italy – one of the worst-affected countries – has threatened to sue volunteers who 3D printed a valve used for life-saving treatments. Amid a global health crisis, many people would support actions that potentially violate IP rights if it means saving lives. But IP owners would probably argue that such treatments wouldn’t exist without their investment and monopoly. It is in times like these when we really see the tension between public need and private interest. You can read our article on reactions to compulsory licensing here

Stay up to date

As our reporters provide more insight on COVID-19 developments, we will update the below list of stories for you.

COVID crisis leaves patent portfolios untouched, for now [June 4] 

Remote working increases risk of trade secret divulgence [June 4]

Survey: In-house to shift COVID litigation work to law firms [May 26] 

Trial and error: India’s virtual courts experiment still needs work [May 26] 

Three quarters in-house counsel want remote hearings in future [May 20] 

Health bodies push for COVID patent pool to fight ‘IP hoarding’ [May 20]

Five US judges: counsel help needed to ease COVID backlog [May 11]

DPMA chief: early tech use helped ease COVID-19 strain [May 7]

Virtual hearings seen as creative compromise in Germany [May 7] 

A stranger's guide to pharma IP collaboration during COVID-19 [May 7]

Little and often: in-house reduce time on external counsel calls [May 5]

COVID-19: Chinese courts offer practical tips for virtual trials [May 4]

Compulsory licensing could create more problems than it solves [April 23]

IT problems put justice on hold in France [April 23] 

Courts shutdown shows virtual opportunities and challenges for US judges and litigators [April 20]

Cheese and wine protections face uncertainty amid COVID-19 [April 16]

COVID-19 brings open source medicine into the limelight [April 16th]

Trainee schemes ‘50% less effective’ after COVID-19 shutdown [April 14]

COVID-19 puts spotlight on compulsory licensing jitters [April 9]

UK judge and lawyers rise to virtual court challenges [April 9]

How IP department heads keep calm and carry on [April 2]

How patent pooling can speed up a COVID-19 vaccine [April 2]

COVID-19: Lawyers' jet-set lifestyle may decline post-crisis [April 1] 

How IP litigators are navigating the COVID-19 shutdown [March 27]

COVID-19: Patents are not adequate incentives for vaccine research [March 17]

In-house fear ‘serious challenges’ amid COVID-19 shutdown [March 17]

Global research rush spurs COVID-19 patent challenges [March 12]

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