The coronavirus is spreading quickly around the world. Many countries have turned to lockdowns to connect the social gap and control the unfurl of the disease. The lockdown has devastatingly affected countries’ economies, notwithstanding in each zone, for example, agriculture, stock markets, factories, refineries, IT sector, and Intellectual Property.
The COVID-19 has not avoided even the field of intellectual property, yet it has no longer carried it to an end. The world of intellectual property keeps on being moving however at a slower pace.
In this article, we will discuss the effect of COVID-19 on the IP sector as well as recent new developments observed in patents and the media and entertainment industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Impact of COVID-19 on Intellectual Property Sector
An extended pandemic disaster heightened by the Covid-19 may in all likelihood push the intellectual property & legal services area right into a nosedive, much like other sectors & industries. but, the possibility of explosive growth in the intellectual property domain cannot be disregarded once the COVID situation ends as a Post-COVID world will much more likely push tech corporations for going after the licensing of their current IP portfolio to incentivize their monetary reserves.
Companies maintaining huge IP portfolios are being greatly suffering from the pandemic and consequently seeking to put in force a few obligatory measures to reduce the effect of a pandemic on their economic system. A few organizations have begun re-shuffling their IP portfolio to cut down their cost by way of minimizing the cost spent on the maintenance of patents, prosecution, and searching. To reduce the cost, besides, IP holders are even taking into account abandoning the patents, losing thoughts of IP acquisitions.
Presently, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the European Patent Office (EPO), IP Australia, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), Intellectual Property India, the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), China’s National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) and all of the IP offices around the world.
Foreign patent and trademark offices all through the world are taking steps to address the effect of lockdown on IP practitioners and their working and operations. The measures consist of extending time limits related to the prosecution of patents, copyrights, and trademarks.
Recent new developments in the IP field
- Several organizations and universities have signed the ‘Open COVID pledge’ to encourage the improvement of treatments and remedies for COVID-19. The pledge assures researchers to get entry to the technology had to mass-produce masks, ventilators, and testing kits. The development of COVID-19 diagnostic kits just a few weeks after the outbreak began is an instance of this worldwide cooperation. Governments have also actively stepped into the patent system with discussions of compulsory licensing and creating public patent pools.
- The concept of collaboration is changing from a rigid, negotiated structure to a more dynamic, more transparent system. The Pune-primarily based Serum Institute of India and the University of Oxford are co-developing a vaccine dubbed ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. The clinical trials at the university are being funded through the UK government, and the seven manufacturing companions in this venture are private entities in Britain, Europe, India, and China.
- Political leaders around the world have also been developing plans to enhance access to COVID-19-related IP rights. The EU is taking into consideration buying COVID-19-related rights to establish a publicly-owned patent pool or fund. This is an enormous development within the IP domain because it’s an exceptional effort by the governments to ensure patents don’t impede the fight towards the pandemic. Several nations are also exploring a compulsory licensing mechanism, wherein the governments authorize a third-party to make or use a particular process without the permission of the patent’s owner.
- Due to pandemic, several rights-holders have already pledged to not exclude others from the usage of their inventions. for instance, AbbVie has announced that it will not enforce its patents on lopinavir, an antiviral drug of interest towards COVID-19. Gilead has additionally sought to rescind the seven-year orphan drug exclusivity period for remdesivir.
2.Media and Entertainment Industry
- As per a report by KPMG titled COVID-19: The many shades of a crisis – A media and entertainment (M&E) sector perspective, if COVID-19 spread is largely contained by April-May, India’s economy might expand in the range of 5.3-5.7% in FY21. Unless there is a global recession with spread control in India, the nation could see the growth of 4-4.5% in FY21 and if the virus proliferates in India with a global recession, GDP growth could fall below 3%.
- The present condition is rare and could bring about a plunge in media utilization in the near term and critically, a realignment in utilization models. During the lockdown, nonetheless, certain segments of M&E are seeing utilization development, especially in TV, gaming, digital, and OTT. There has been a discernible increment in media utilization – TV, digital, and gaming – particularly during the most recent couple of weeks as individuals have stayed homebound, as indicated by the report.
- On the other hand, films, events, theme parks, etc. are seeing an emotional fall with social distancing standards set up. Further, most fragments (except news-related organizations) can’t offer new content with production.
- The Events and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) survey suggests that more than 50% of media firms have lost 90% of their business since March 2020; more than 63% of firms have suffered a loss of revenue of up to Rs. 1 crore with several firms planning to reduce their workforce by 50%.
Conclusion – Therefore, more national IP offices are expected to introduce steps to resolve the impact of the virus and may offer relief to IP holding companies and practitioners and, on the other hand, as the world is adjusting to a new environment, customer behavior is also expected to change rapidly. Lockdown has increased demand for entertainment at home, and both television and streaming platforms have seen tremendous growth that is expected to continue in the future. Even after the lockout ends and at least until the pandemic continues social distancing norms will remain and this will affect how the M&E sector works.
Author: Janhavi Sitaram Dudam,
Vivekanand Education Society's College of law, Mumbai (1st year- LL.B.)