Beginning September 23, a free two-day workshop will address issues relating to innovation by life sciences companies, including IP and antitrust issues arising from collaborations and partnerships. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is co-sponsoring the event with the Department of Justice. The program will address the role of patents in the research and development of therapeutics, diagnostics, and vaccines — particularly during pandemics —and the relative benefits of collaboration vs. competition.

This program follows the USPTO’s recent announcement of fee waivers for certain COVID-related applications to be made available immediately, instead of 18-months after filing.  Such early available of applications is intended to foster collaboration, as we recently discussed. Earlier this year, as we also reported, the USPTO initiated a program to prioritize patent applications and trademark petitions related to COVID-19.  Quick registration of marks may support commercialization and availability of COVID-related technologies.

The role of IP in innovation of therapeutics, diagnostics, and vaccines for the COVID-19 virus has been a subject of much discussion.  Efforts to facilitate collaboration have included international proposals for pooling of patent rights, as advocated by the World Health Organization and previously discussed on our blog. In the US, legislation was proposed to delay patent rights, as we also discussed. Many patent owners have also taken action by taking the OpenCOVID Pledge and allowing their IP to be available in the fight against COVID-19.

It is now too-commonly noted that these are “unprecedented” times, but many of the suitable synonyms may similarly apply to developments relating to innovation and collaboration in the life sciences.