Do we need new IP laws to better cope with future crises?


Do we need new IP laws to better cope with future crises?

Corona Borealis /

Attempts to reassure ventilator manufacturers that they will be protected from IP litigation revealed holes in the UK statute book, argues Debra Goldwyn of Wedlake Bell.

In early April, Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, wrote to the UK parliament’s Public Accounts Committee. His letter notified it of the decision to protect companies supporting the UK government in its struggle to increase the nation’s stock of ventilators. These machines were urgently needed to assist in treating the expected high numbers of seriously ill COVID-19 affected patients.

Gove pledged that the government would indemnify these companies against the financial burden of any IP infringement claims (as well as product liability claims) as a result of their producing “rapidly manufactured ventilator systems” to help in the crisis.

This promise followed the government’s mid-March “call to action” plea to UK companies, with suitable manufacturing abilities, to volunteer to help increase the National Health Service’s (NHS) stock of ventilators. At that time, the NHS was believed to have just over 8,000 ventilators in its inventory.

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