Tech innovators commit to making their full collections of patents available to the public, free of charge, for use in ending and minimizing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
April 20, 2020 at 4pm EDT
Amazon, Facebook, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), IBM, Microsoft, and Sandia National Laboratories announced today that they are joining the Open COVID Pledge by making all of their patents freely available to the public for use in the fight against COVID-19. Together, the group holds hundreds of thousands of patents and is offering to grant a temporary license that enables the public to utilize any of the pledgors’ patents in the research, development, and deployment of medical equipment, network products, software solutions, and other technologies to assist in this urgent public health crisis.
The Open COVID Pledge, launched by an international coalition of legal experts, scientists, and technologists, is an effort that encourages companies, universities, and researchers to make their intellectual property available free of charge for use in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and minimizing the impact of the disease. Those who make the Pledge help ensure that uncertainty around intellectual property rights will not slow or impede urgently needed solutions in this critical time.
“Amazon, Facebook, HPE, IBM, Microsoft, and Sandia National Laboratories are demonstrating their vision and leadership by putting global health first,” said Jorge Contreras, professor of law at the University of Utah, and one of the authors of the Open COVID Pledge. “They are granting free and legal access to their patents to empower those addressing this pandemic to create and implement life-saving tools and technology.”
“It’s terrific to see them using the standard licenses we’ve made available at opencovidpledge.org or have declared compatible with the Open COVID Pledge,” said Diane Peters, General Counsel of Creative Commons and one of the Open COVID Pledge’s authors. “This approach makes it easy for users of the licensed material to quickly understand the legal terms that are offered to them. By reducing complexity and ensuring interoperability with other licensed content, these companies are welcoming innovators all around the world to build upon their IP and create new solutions that might put an end to the pandemic.”
“Microsoft is always looking for ways to use our patents to contribute to positive outcomes, and the fight against COVID-19 is one of the most urgent issues of our time,” said Jennifer Yokoyama, Chief IP Counsel of Microsoft. “Pledges and open licensing like this effort can help spur innovation, especially in a crisis like this one. Researchers, scientists, and others working against the virus should be able to develop and deploy effective solutions at scale without needing to worry about the threat of patent litigation.”
“The patent system was created to promote progress, and we don’t believe that patents should ever be used to exploit innovation at the expense of the people it was meant to serve,” said Jeremiah Chan, Facebook’s Director and Associate General Counsel, Head of Patents. “The Open COVID Pledge aligns with Facebook’s goal to support communities and empower innovators, and we’re proud to join like-minded companies to aid the fight against this pandemic.”
“HPE’s patent portfolio covers numerous technologies, such as supercomputing, swarm learning, and location-based services, that can aid in the global fight against COVID-19,” said Brett Alten, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “The Open COVID Pledge aligns with our purpose to advance the way people live and work by enabling organizations to freely use and combine our innovations with their own technologies to create breakthrough solutions to combat this disease. We encourage other innovators to join us in this pledge.”
“We support efforts to speed the development of preventative measures, treatments, and cures during this outbreak,” said Scott Hayden, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Intellectual Property at Amazon. “This commitment is a part of our ongoing efforts to support customers, employees, and communities around the world during this difficult time.”
“IBM is committed to using our technology and expertise to drive meaningful progress in this global COVID-19 fight,” said Dr. John Kelly, Executive Vice President, IBM. “IBM has always been a company that fosters innovation and it is our hope, in making our technology more widely available, we can provide valuable tools researchers and scientists can use to stop the spread and find cures for this pandemic.”
“This isn’t just a public health crisis; it’s also an economic crisis,” said Susan Seestrom, Sandia’s chief research officer. “Companies need new ways of doing business. They need cybersecurity tools so they can operate remotely. They need advanced manufacturing techniques to produce goods that are in high demand. If Sandia intellectual property can help, we want to lower barriers to people getting it.”
About Open COVID Pledge
The Open COVID Pledge calls on organizations around the world to make their patents and copyrights freely available in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pledge was developed by the Open COVID Coalition, an international group of scientists and lawyers seeking to accelerate the rapid development and deployment of diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, medical equipment and software solutions in this urgent public health crisis. To make or support the Pledge, visit https://opencovidpledge.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.