Creative Commons Is Now Leading the Open COVID Pledge—Here’s What That Means

We’re pleased to announce today that Creative Commons is taking on leadership and stewardship of the Open COVID Pledge.

Earlier this year, CC joined forces with an international group of researchers, scientists, academics, and lawyers seeking to accelerate the development of diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, medical equipment, and software solutions that might be used to assist in the fight against COVID-19. The result was the Open COVID Pledge, a project that offers a simple way for universities, companies, and others to make their patents and copyrights available to the public to be utilized in the current public health crisis.

Users of Creative Commons licenses will be familiar with the Open COVID Pledge’s approach. Like CC licenses, the Open COVID Pledge offers free, standard, public licenses that anyone can use to remove unnecessary obstacles to the dissemination of knowledge.

Amazon, Facebook, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NASA JPL, Sandia National Laboratories, and Uber are among the dozens of companies and institutions that have used the Open COVID Pledge to make their patents and copyrights open to the public in support of solving the COVID-19 pandemic. As Creative Commons takes on this new leadership role in the project, we’re energized by the potential to expand its international scope, reach, and impact.

We’ll continue working with large companies to unlock their intellectual property (IP) rights in the pursuit of saving lives. But we also aim to team up with smaller startups, universities, and even individual innovators—especially in parts of the world that aren’t well-represented by the project’s current list of pledgors and supporters and that hold patents and other IP critical to the fight against  COVID-19. We’ll achieve this goal by collaborating with members of our worldwide community, including leading organizations in the international arena working on copyright and IP policy, such as the WHO and other UN bodies. We will also leverage the expertise and our deep relationships with the Creative Commons Global Network. Stay tuned for more information on these internationalization efforts, including ways to get involved in expanding the project in your country and region.

We believe this initiative will have a profound impact beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The common set of values, tools, and principles for the responsible use of IP in the public’s interest formed during this particular crisis can and should be used as a necessary model for addressing other crises, such as climate change. We hope to carry this conversation and model forward.

As CC takes on leadership and stewardship of the Open COVID Pledge, we are mindful of the many who contributed to its beginnings. In particular, we thank our co-collaborators for their expertise and collaboration in forging this project and helping it come to life. They have provided and will continue to provide critical strategic input into the future of this project and its growth. 

You can support the effort by encouraging your company, university, or research team to make the Open COVID Pledge. Visit opencovidpledge.org or contact us at ocpinfo@creativecommons.org for more information.

The post Creative Commons Is Now Leading the Open COVID Pledge—Here’s What That Means appeared first on Creative Commons.

Victory! EFF Defends Public’s Right to Access Court Records About Patent Ownership

“The public’s right of access to court proceedings is well-established as a legal principle, but it needs constant defending. In part, that’s because private parties keep asking publicly-funded courts to resolve their disputes in secret. As we and others have written before, this problem is especially great in patent cases, where parties on opposite sides of a case often agree with each other to keep as much of the litigation as possible hidden from view. That deprives the public of material it has every right to see that could affect its rights to engage, like documents establishing (or undermining) a patent owner’s right to bring suit on the basis of a patent which they claim to own….

The Federal Circuit’s decision is a victory for the public, which has waited far too long to see court records to which it has a strong presumption of rightful access. It is also a defeat for Uniloc, which tried, but failed, to avoid the default rule of public access throughout these proceedings. We hope this outcome sends a strong message to Uniloc and other patent litigants that their preference for secrecy cannot overcome the public’s right to know what happens in our courts.”

Italy will require pharma to disclose public funding for R&D

“Amid growing clamor for more transparency from the pharmaceutical industry, Italy has become the first country to require drug makers to disclose data about public funding for any of their medicines during negotiations over pricing and reimbursement.

As a result, the Italian Medicines Agency, known as AIFA, will have insight into various costs, such as R&D and marketing, that drug companies incur, as well as data on revenue, patents, and prices offered to other countries, according to a decree published last week. The decree is notable, in part, because Italy is a Group of Seven country with a significant market for the global pharmaceutical industry….”

 

Trade policy response to COVID-19 examined in Committee report – News from Parliament – UK Parliament

“[The unanimously adopted report from the International Trade Committee] also recommends the Government consider adjusting intellectual property provisions to allow for compulsory licensing of therapeutic drugs or vaccines against COVID-19, as a means of ensuring they can be made available as quickly, widely and cheaply as possible..”

Countries Are Adapting Intellectual Property Laws to Prioritise Health During COVID-19

“Intellectual property (IP) rights can potentially impede mass production of existing health products, as well as innovation and research and development of new products. IP rights can be exercised by their owners to grant or withhold from licensing the technology required for manufacturing or further developing a product. If a license is denied, the technology will not be available for other firms to manufacture or supply.

Usually, a bundle of several IP rights can exist around a particular technology. It is very common patenting strategy in the pharmaceutical industry to take separate patents on the main compound of a drug and a large number of secondary patents on different formulations and combinations, dosage, as well as other possible therapeutic use of a drug. This can make it difficult for follow on innovators to invent around the thicket of IP rights….

Through a resolution of the World Health Assembly on COVID-19, member states of the WHO have recognised the possible need for countries to adopt measures to ensure that IP rights do not constrain global equitable access to health technologies for COVID-19 through the full use of the flexibilities of the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) as well as voluntary pooling of patented technologies, data and know-how….

A number of flexibilities available under the TRIPS Agreement can be applied by governments to ensure that IP rights do not constrain innovation and availability of health technologies required for responding to COVID-19….

It is time for developing countries to review the extent to which such measures can be adopted, or what changes, if any, need to be introduced into their legal regimes so as to be able to act effectively and timely to address the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic….”

Intellectual Property Conservancies

Abstract:  Conservancies, which hold real property in trust for public purposes or administer easements restricting future uses of private property, are a successful means of securing public benefits within the system of private property ownership. They have been widely encouraged by governments, through tax regulations. Most of us are generally familiar with the idea that property owners may deed rights or donate easements limiting future development or exploitation to a non-profit organization, while continuing to live on their land or in their historic property. With the increased attention that businesses and individuals are paying to the value of knowledge assets, it should be no surprise the conservancy metaphor is now being extended to intellectual property (IP).

Intellectual Property Conservancies (IPCs) are being conceived as a means to provide public benefits by making digital content donated, or licensed to them, freely available and by ensuring its long-term preservation. As such, they would offer free public access to intellectual property as a way of ‘leveling the playing field’ for rich and poor individuals, and rich and poor countries. The Knowledge Conservancy (http://www.knowledgeconservancy.org) is a non-profit IPC incorporated in August 2000; here, the author, who was involved in its planning, explores the issues any such organization will face.

IPCs are digital libraries and therefore have all the problems associated with digital libraries. In addition, IPCs face a large number of challenges that most digital libraries do not confront. These include:

Obtaining content donations (persuading IP owners of the benefits of giving, possibly without any tax advantage)
Obtaining financial contributions (persuading philanthropists and the general public of the value of free public access)
Obtaining usable digital assets
Creating metadata to support discovery, rights management and preservation
Providing access to potential readers worldwide
Providing long-term, or even ‘perpetual’, access.

EIFL endorses Open COVID Pledge | EIFL

“EIFL has pledged its support for the Open COVID Pledge that seeks to remove barriers to the use of intellectual property (IP) to help end and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Pledge was developed by the Open COVID Coalition, an international coalition of legal experts, engineers and scientists who are calling on companies, universities and other organizations to make their patents and copyrights temporarily available free of charge to accelerate the rapid development and deployment of diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, medical equipment and software solutions in this urgent public health crisis….”

The NIH claims joint ownership of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine – Axios

“The National Institutes of Health may own intellectual property that undergirds a leading coronavirus vaccine being developed by Moderna, according to documents obtained by Axios and an analysis from Public Citizen.

Why it matters: Because the federal government has an actual stake in this vaccine, it could try to make the vaccine a free or low-cost public good with wide distribution, if the product turns out to be safe and effective.

The big picture: The NIH mostly funds outside research, but it also often invents basic scientific technologies that are later licensed out and incorporated into drugs that are sold at massive profits. The agency rarely claims ownership stakes or pursues patent rights, but that appears to be different with this coronavirus vaccine….”

Big Pharma Attacks Coronavirus Price Controls

“On April 15, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., along with Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, laid out basic principles for the development and pricing of coronavirus therapies and vaccines. Their demands were simple: Pharmaceutical companies should have to set reasonable prices for their drugs and vaccines used to treat or prevent Covid-19. They should be required to make the costs of research and manufacturing of these products public. During the pandemic, the legislators said, companies should not be able to profit exclusively from these potentially lifesaving drugs.

“Exclusivity determines who has access, who can manufacture, and how we scale up production to meet the need,” the members of Congress noted in a press release at the time….

Few have spoken out against the protections that were designed to ensure equitable access to lifesaving medicines — at least publicly. But privately, a coalition of conservative groups attacked the proposed patient protections as “dangerous, disruptive, and unacceptable.” In a May 7 letter, representatives of 31 groups, including Hudson Institute, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, and Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, called on Congress to reject the drug pricing guidelines and defended patents and the exclusive right to profit from drugs as “America’s great assets.” …

Perhaps most galling to the Democratic lawmakers is the fact that the vast majority (if not all) of the drugs they seek to protect from exorbitant pricing have been developed at least in part with taxpayer dollars. Between 2010 and 2016, every drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration benefited from science funded with federal research through the National Institutes of Health, according to the advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs. During that time, taxpayers spent more than $100 billion on that research.

Although American taxpayers are the “angel investors” of pharmaceuticals, as Doggett put it, many cannot afford the treatments they’ve bankrolled….

On Friday, the World Health Organization unveiled a global effort to pool intellectual property, data, and research related to Covid-19. While 36 countries have already announced their support for the project, the U.S. was not among them. Just as WHO was detailing its plan to broadly share the benefits of scientific advancement, President Donald Trump was announcing his plan to withdraw from the global organization.”

New Report – How COVID-19 is Changing Research Culture – Digital Science

“The report key findings include: 

As of 1 June 2020, there have been upwards of 42,700 scholarly articles on COVID-19 published, 3,100 clinical trials, 420 datasets, 270 patents, 750 policy documents, and 150 grants.

Preprints have rapidly established as a mainstream research output and a key part of COVID-19 research efforts. They started at relatively low levels in early January 2020 and accounted for around one quarter of research output by the beginning of May 2020.

To date, more than 8,300 organisations have been involved in supporting COVID-19 research, with over 71,800 individual researchers identified as working on COVID-19 research.

The highest intensity of research into COVID-19 began in China and gradually migrated west mirroring the movement of the virus itself.

While the US and EU have both now published more than China in journals such as The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA, China continues to benefit from an early mover advantage and continues to enjoy the lionshare of the citations. While research in the field is clearly moving quickly, it currently remains anchored to China’s early publications.

A density map of global COVID-19 paper production shows there are three to four major centres of research: an extended area in China composed of several cities—Wuhan, where the virus is alleged to have started, Beijing and Shanghai; Europe, specifically Italy and the UK, two of the harder hit countries; the US’s east coast research corridor including Boston and New York; and finally, a lighter focus from the Californian institutions on the West coast.

The top producing institution of COVID-19 research (since the beginning of 2020) is in China, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, followed by Harvard University and the University of Oxford.

The top healthcare producers of COVID-19 research (since the beginning of 2020) are Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, then Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

While the proportion of internationally co-authored work is steady, the vast majority of research on COVID to date has been unusually authored within countries.

At the time of writing, 156 grants totalling at least 20.8m USD have been awarded to COVID-themed researchers in public institutions.

Much of the clinical trial initiation activity in January and February is sponsored by China and this then begins to fall off in March, April and May. We see a similar wave for Europe and the US, but shifted back by two months, beginning in March….”