Underscoring the significance of utilizing intellectual property (IP) in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19), the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Monday publicly unveiled a new online database that acts as a patent “marketplace” aimed at facilitating the voluntary licensing and commercialization of key technologies related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19.
The goal of the “Patents 4 Partnerships” initiative is to bring together patent owners who want to make their technologies available for licensing and entities who have an interest in and the ability to commercialize these technologies. The USPTO stated in a press release about the platform that it provides “the public with a user-friendly, searchable repository of patents and published patent applications related to the COVID-19 pandemic that are indicated as available for licensing.”
Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for IP and USPTO Director, said Monday that the platform’s initial focus on technologies tailored to fighting the pandemic “shows how innovation can contribute to the nation’s response to this critical health emergency.”
“Patents 4 Partnerships is a meeting place that enables patent owners who want to license their IP rights to connect with the individuals and businesses who can turn those rights into solutions for our health and well-being,” Iancu said. Besides promoting licensing efforts, the online marketplace also serves to “disseminate valuable patent information” that can be leveraged to help the nation during this time.
Because of the current public health situation, technologies such as personal protective equipment, disinfectants, ventilators, testing equipment and components thereof, and life science patents focused on biotherapeutics, antibody testing and vaccine-related cures, comprise the bulk of the current database. Of course, in the future, the hope is when there is less of an immediate need for technologies solely focused on COVID-19, the platform may be expanded to include other technologies to serve the general purpose of facilitating licensing efforts between entities.
A small snapshot of some of the over 175 technologies currently listed on the platform include:
The online user interface of the Patents 4 Partnerships database is straightforward, and allows users to easily search and sort information with several variables. One can search by keyword, inventor name, assignee, and issue date. The database indicates whether the licensing status of the listed technology is currently “available,” or “unknown” by the USPTO. The platform also offers a link to sources that include the licensing information for each specific technology.
Since Monday, the majority of database listings and information on the platform has been culled from various public sources, including the USPTO itself, the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC Business), the AUTM Innovation Marketplace (AIM), universities, and a variety of federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs databases.
IP owners are encouraged to use the database by submitting additional technologies that they believe are related to the COVID-19 crisis. Users, and specifically potential licensees, are invited to send comments through the link provided on the main page of the platform and should directly reach out to IP owners in order to start licensing and commercialization efforts to produce the critical technologies that address needs right now because of the pandemic.
Companies with the financial resources, manufacturing capacities, and ability to operate within a space outside of their traditional business models may take advantage of the opportunity the Patents 4 Partnerships platform provides to cross-collaborate and license innovative technologies that work towards the prevention, cure, and continued fight against the effects of COVID-19 on the United States and the rest of the world.
For our clients, we have formed a multidisciplinary Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force to help guide you through the broad scope of legal issues brought on by this public health challenge. We also have launched a resource page to help keep you on top of developments as they unfold. If you would like to receive a daily digest of all new updates to the page, please subscribe now to receive our COVID-19 alerts. One of our many resources includes a list of current known IP office closures and extensions around the world.
If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact the authors, Kenneth J. Davis, Andrew J. Gray IV(Silicon Valley), or any of the members of Morgan Lewis’s COVID-19 Intellectual Property Working Group:
Jason C. White
Christina A. MacDougall, Ph.D.
John V. Gorman