Patents and the Open COVID Pledge

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Earlier this year, we announced the creation of the Open COVID Pledge. The aim of the group is to remove intellectual property (IP) barriers which could interfere with the development of new diagnostic tests and treatments for the coronavirus. Companies who take the pledge agree to make their IP assets available for free until one year after the World Health Organization declares the pandemic has ended.
 
Ten companies quickly took the pledge and became founding members, including several with significant IP holdings. Here are some highlights of what is available.
 
IBM has been in the number one spot on our annual top 50 list since its inception, and has made thousands of patents related to artificial intelligence (including Watson) and biological viruses available. IBM promised not to assert their patent rights against any organization using these technologies to fight the coronavirus,  including others contained in patent applications, until the end of 2023. Read their full statement.
 
Sandia National Labs is a well-known contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy and other government agencies. In addition to their national security work, Sandia also has strengths in scientific research, including a recent breakthrough which uses proto-cells that carry drugs to knock out targeted cancer cells. Currently a team of researchers are working on two CRISPR-based technologies; the first sends temporary reprogramming codes to your body that will inhibit virus infection, and the second is a nanoparticle delivery system to protect the codes until they get to the right cells and modulate the body’s response. If successful, both will be available for use under the pledge.
 
Hewlett Packard Enterprise is part of the U.S. Supercomputing Resources to Fight COVID-19 partnership, allowing researchers to use their supercomputing software and AI tools for free to speed up the search for COVID-19 diagnosis technologies or treatments. Their Wi-Fi and location-based services were used to establish and operate pop-up clinics, including a ferry in Genoa, Italy. Another technology well suited to help researchers is cryo-electron microscopy, which shortens the time to drug discovery and development.
 
See the full list of founding adopters and later pledgors.