Intel, Mozilla, Creative Commons and a number of other organizations have joined the Open COVID Pledge in an effort to make intellectual property (IP) available in the fight against Covid-19.
To support the pledge’s goal, companies, institutions and universities will give free licenses to their patents, copyrights and other property rights to anyone developing technologies to aid in the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of the virus.
The licenses will be effective from December 1, 2019 and will last until a year after the WHO declares that the pandemic is officially over.
Companies that make the pledge will be required to adopt the Open COVID license, create a custom license that accomplishes the intent of the pledge or identify existing licenses that support the pledge’s goal.
Open COVID Pledge
The Open COVID Pledge is intended to prevent researchers and entrepreneurs from being sued for any tools they create during the pandemic. Once the world returns to normal, hopefully companies will be able to work together to come up with commercially reasonable license terms, though they can also reassert their IP rights if they choose.
Director of the Stanford University program in law, science and technology, Mark Lemley explained that organizations and universities can use the Open Covid Pledge’s model license or use their own, saying:
“While we have written a model license anyone can use, many universities and companies have their own license language and terms, and that’s fine. We are encouraging them to commit to the pledge, and they can do that while implementing the pledge with their own license terms.”
So far, the Open COVID Pledge has received expressions of support from DLA Piper, Unified Patents, the Idea Laboratory for Intellectual Property, Fabricatorz Foundation, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, the University of Utah S. J. Quinney College of Law and the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University Washington College of Law.
Executive vice president and general counsel at Intel, Steven Rodgers noted in a blog post that the chipmaker is making its IP portfolio available to scientists and researchers, saying:
“We are … giving COVID-19 scientists and researchers free access to Intel’s vast worldwide intellectual property portfolio — one of the world’s largest — in the hope and belief that making this intellectual property freely available to them will save lives. We will continue to invent — and protect — our intellectual property, but we offer it freely to those working to protect people from this pandemic.”