Trade secrets and the battle against Covid

David S Levine
2020 Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice  
The unprecedented Covid-19 global pandemic has brought to the forefront many challenges associated with exclusive rights, information sharing, affordability of medical treatment, and innovation. As I wrote for STAT in July 1 , it has raised questions like how we provide effective diagnostics, treatments and vaccines quickly and safely to the public. More specifically, how do we ensure that sufficient quantities of these health products are produced, that they are affordable, and that they are
more » ... and that they are equitably distributed globally? Trade secrets play an enormous role in vaccine development, as well as the creation of diagnostics and treatments. From information like genomic data, to biologic resources, manufacturing know-how and negative information like research dead-ends, trade secrets pervade the battle against Covid. 2 In that sense, finding Covid vaccines is no different from any other innovation schema, with trade secrecy operating alongside and in conjunction with patents, copyrights, and trade marks on the incentive side of the ledger. However, in the Covid space, there are a few significant differences. At their centre is the basic issue of whether the sharing of certain trade secret information would be a net benefit for the world, resulting in more rapid development and expanded supply capacity of and/or more affordable vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics. These are open questions, but there are good reasons to think that the answers would be "yes" because of three public health priorities: speed, adequacy of supply, and affordability. While the development of a Covid vaccine may be similar in process and methodology to any other vaccine development process, the continual loss of life, scale of economic impact, and general rendering of lives V C The Author(s)
doi:10.1093/jiplp/jpaa164 fatcat:qr5nudqbhfcftlxb6jdjkk6fcq