COVID-19: governments look to shield companies from IP enforcement


Andrew Pitts

COVID-19: governments look to shield companies from IP enforcement

Vadym Stock /

The UK government’s indemnifying of ventilator manufacturers is a smart solution to potential licensing obstacles, says Andrew Pitts of Mewburn Ellis.

A large effort is underway globally to ensure that there are enough mechanical ventilators available to treat patients during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. Medical devices such as ventilators are typically protected by intricate portfolios of IP rights, with patents playing a key role in that protection.

Due to the vast scale of the medical device business it is common for companies to pursue patent protection for their devices in as many countries as possible and to use whatever tactics are available to prolong their protection as far as possible. 

This increases the chance that relevant patents may exist in many countries around the world whose governments are desperately trying to source ventilators. In some countries, such as the UK, the government has contracted a number of high-tech companies to rapidly produce mechanical ventilators to meet the need that existing suppliers cannot.

COVID-19, coronavirus, indemnity, ventilators, production, Crown use, licence, patents, Michael Gove