Coronavirus Outbreak – How the Tech Giants are Easing Patents for a Greater Cause

The tech giants, most of the time, do every possible thing they can to keep their fundamental and crucial innovations under their purview. The most obvious way for them to do the same is via filing Patent Applications. Many of the widely-known tech companies out there file for thousands of patents every year. For instance, in 2019, IBM received a total of 9,262 patents and topped the business technology companies’ list of the most frequent patent recipients for the 27th year in a row. Moreover, companies, including Microsoft and Intel, are never far behind in this scenario as well.

IBM’s chief patent counsel, Manny Schecter, said in an article in 2018 that patents and the corresponding inventions are sometimes used as a currency for innovation. While keeping all such aspects in mind, something far away from the norms has to happen for the patent status quo to be disrupted, which, at present, is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Open COVID Pledge

At the beginning of this month, all the tech giants mentioned above, along with HP Enterprise, Amazon, Facebook, and many others, joined a new initiative known as the Open COVID Pledge. To the specific, the tech companies are proactively setting aside the digital norms for allowing other companies out there to use their Intellectual Property (IP) temporarily and free of charge in efforts to combat the novel Coronavirus. In particular, the Open COVID Pledge is indeed like a superset of open-source licensing and Creative Commons for undoubtedly a difficult situation.

The best thing about this pledge is that all these tech companies, along with a couple of patent holders and laboratories, love their patents, and yet, they are willing to see the utmost importance of the better cause. The Chief IP Counsel at HP Enterprise, Brett Alten, wrote last week in a blog post that patents provide a competitive edge by granting the respective owners the exclusive right to prevent others from exploiting their unique innovations and inventions; however, in tough situations like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, cooperation holds more importance than the competition in all aspects.

The most engaging part is that the initiative or pledge came to life as a consequence of several academic and legal experts realizing a need, steering it, and then building something exceedingly robust for the tech giants to reply upon conveniently. As a part of the steering community, the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Creative Commons, Diane Peters, wrote in the blog post last week that the initiative came together very quickly due to the exigent circumstances. She further noted that Creative Commons is now looking forward to working efficiently with various policy experts and talented international legal professionals on the subsequent steps to make the Open COVID Pledge an impactful and fruitful reality.

According to some experts, there are a few complicating factors involved as well to make the pledge work since it deals with patents. The most critical aspect lies in the fact that some of the tech companies taking part in the initiative are not using the license created for the pledge specifically, and instead, using a separate license in the spirit of the Open COVID Pledge, which includes companies like Intel and IBM.

Nonetheless, it is undoubtedly incredible to come up with such an accomplishment in a short span. At the moment where so much is in the air, and a lot of technological innovation is the need of the hour, the Open COVID Pledge can provide ways to determine effective treatments and cures for the deadly Coronavirus. For more visit:

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