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Being an Intellectual Property (IP) attorney, I am paying close attention to how the pandemic of CoVID-19 is impacting the trademark and copyright arena. 

Physical Access

Local governments and federal entities have restricted public access to means by which people apply for or extend deadlines for trademarks, patents, and copyrights. Many court buildings are closed while other government offices have limited staff present. In addition, potential applicants are avoiding public places due to exposure concerns.  

The good news is that various IP deadlines have been extended and paper applications have been made available online, even in other parts of the globe. In some cases, extensions are being granted along with proof that the current crisis has rendered a person unable to meet application requirements.  

Rules and Regulations 
In other news, intellectual property concerns have surfaced in regards to fighting CoVID-19. Doctors and scientists pressured to find a cause and cure for the virus have been faced with an ethical dilemma– do they violate patent law in order to reproduce items like ventilators? On the other side, should doctors and scientists keep their data exclusive, or should they share findings with the public in hopes of a unified front? 

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) shared their considerations on the matter, stating that it’s important for all parts of the globe to have access to affordable solutions to eradicate CoVID-19. WIPO asserted that Intellectual Property is a probable barrier to these solutions. Although IP regulation influences competition and creation in the free market, it recognized the need for flexibility in licensing arrangements. 

In fact, on March 25, 2020, WIPO announced that the organization and many other philanthropic agencies were uploading millions of chemical formulas to the WIPO patent search engine, Patentscope. It’s encouraging to witness a world agency recognizing a need and collaborating with creators and researchers alike to lay down competition and cost in order to fight a global pandemic. 

Until next time, I’m Francine D. Ward, keeping up with everything you need to know about CoVID-19 and Intellectual Property law. 

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Francine D. Ward
Attorney-At-Law, Author, Speaker

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