We Need an Open-Source Approach to Weed Out Bad Quality Patents

“Open-source development can solve these problems. Everyone has an interest in ensuring that only valid patents get issued. Patent owners cannot continue to spend millions of dollars defending their patents. And accused infringers cannot continue to face the decision to modify their products, spend millions in litigation or risk billions in patent damages.

Solving this problem in a fair, fast, and thorough way will require a cooperative effort. This immediately brings to mind an open-source approach. Open-source software (OSS) is a significant driver of freedom, trust and innovation in the digital age….”

We Need an Open-Source Approach to Weed Out Bad Quality Patents

“Open-source development can solve these problems. Everyone has an interest in ensuring that only valid patents get issued. Patent owners cannot continue to spend millions of dollars defending their patents. And accused infringers cannot continue to face the decision to modify their products, spend millions in litigation or risk billions in patent damages.

Solving this problem in a fair, fast, and thorough way will require a cooperative effort. This immediately brings to mind an open-source approach. Open-source software (OSS) is a significant driver of freedom, trust and innovation in the digital age….”

Google AI Blog: Announcing the Patent Phrase Similarity Dataset

“Patent documents typically use legal and highly technical language, with context-dependent terms that may have meanings quite different from colloquial usage and even between different documents. The process of using traditional patent search methods (e.g., keyword searching) to search through the corpus of over one hundred million patent documents can be tedious and result in many missed results due to the broad and non-standard language used. For example, a “soccer ball” may be described as a “spherical recreation device”, “inflatable sportsball” or “ball for ball game”. Additionally, the language used in some patent documents may obfuscate terms to their advantage, so more powerful natural language processing (NLP) and semantic similarity understanding can give everyone access to do a thorough search.

The patent domain (and more general technical literature like scientific publications) poses unique challenges for NLP modeling due to its use of legal and technical terms. While there are multiple commonly used general-purpose semantic textual similarity (STS) benchmark datasets (e.g., STS-B, SICK, MRPC, PIT), to the best of our knowledge, there are currently no datasets focused on technical concepts found in patents and scientific publications (the somewhat related BioASQ challenge contains a biomedical question answering task). Moreover, with the continuing growth in size of the patent corpus (millions of new patents are issued worldwide every year), there is a need to develop more useful NLP models for this domain.

Today, we announce the release of the Patent Phrase Similarity dataset, a new human-rated contextual phrase-to-phrase semantic matching dataset, and the accompanying paper, presented at the SIGIR PatentSemTech Workshop, which focuses on technical terms from patents. The Patent Phrase Similarity dataset contains ~50,000 rated phrase pairs, each with a Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) class as context. In addition to similarity scores that are typically included in other benchmark datasets, we include granular rating classes similar to WordNet, such as synonym, antonym, hypernym, hyponym, holonym, meronym, and domain related. This dataset (distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license) was used by Kaggle and USPTO as the benchmark dataset in the U.S. Patent Phrase to Phrase Matching competition to draw more attention to the performance of machine learning models on technical text. Initial results show that models fine-tuned on this new dataset perform substantially better than general pre-trained models without fine-tuning….”

Facilitating open science without sacrificing IP rights: A novel tool for improving replicability of published research: EMBO reports: Vol 0, No 0

“Various factors contribute to the restricted access to materials: avoiding criticism, fear of falsification and retraction, or a desire to stay ahead of peers. Commercial and proprietary concerns also play a significant role in the decision of scientists and organizations to conceal replication materials (Campbell & Bendavid,?2002; Hong & Walsh,?2009). Such motivations are more prominent as the line between academic and commercially oriented research becomes blurred. Nowadays, commercial firms commonly publish in scientific journals, whereas scientists, universities, and research institutions benefit from the commercialization of research findings and often seek patent protection. All of this cultivates an environment of secrecy, in contrast with the scientific tradition of openness and sharing (Merton,?1942)….

Instead of choosing between IP rights and replicability, we suggest an inclusive approach that facilitates replications without depriving scientists of IP rights. Our proposal is to implement a new policy tool: the Conditional Access Agreement (CAA). Recall that it is public access to replication materials that jeopardizes both the prospect of securing patent protection (as novelty and non-obviousness are examined vis-à-vis the public prior art) and trade secret protection (since the pertinent information must be kept out of the public domain). Access, however, does not have to be public. This is precisely the gist of the CAA mechanism—establishing a private, controlled channel of communication for the transfer of replication materials between authors and replicators….

The CAA mechanism would work as follows (Fig?1): When submitting a paper for publication, an author would execute an agreement vis-à-vis the journal, pledging to provide full access to replication materials upon demand. The agreement would specify that anyone requesting access to the materials can only obtain it upon signing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Under an NDA, the receiving party commits to use the information disclosed by the other party only for a limited purpose while keeping it confidential. …”

Accelerating pooled licensing of medicines to enhance global production and equitable access – The Lancet

“From October to November, 2021, the pharmaceutical firms Merck and Pfizer licensed their new COVID-19 oral antiviral medications to the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). In both cases, the drugs were licensed quickly, before they were launched, and the MPP then reached agreements with pharmaceutical firms across the globe (27 firms for Merck’s molnupiravir and 36 firms for Pfizer’s nirmatrelvir) to provide generic versions of these to roughly 100 low-income and middle-income countries. This Viewpoint examines the importance of these licences for the global production of, and access to, new medicines, during the pandemic and beyond. It would be a welcome development for these arrangements, which can generate sufficient volumes of production to avoid the supply shortages that encumbered the global vaccination response, to be an indication of a future in which new drugs have multiple suppliers in most low-income and middle-income countries. To explore that possibility, the Viewpoint highlights the political conditions that could make originator firms more inclined to license their products quickly to the MPP, and discusses how public policy can build on the opportunity created by these conditions to promote such licensing further….”

 

Accelerating pooled licensing of medicines to enhance global production and equitable access – The Lancet

“From October to November, 2021, the pharmaceutical firms Merck and Pfizer licensed their new COVID-19 oral antiviral medications to the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). In both cases, the drugs were licensed quickly, before they were launched, and the MPP then reached agreements with pharmaceutical firms across the globe (27 firms for Merck’s molnupiravir and 36 firms for Pfizer’s nirmatrelvir) to provide generic versions of these to roughly 100 low-income and middle-income countries. This Viewpoint examines the importance of these licences for the global production of, and access to, new medicines, during the pandemic and beyond. It would be a welcome development for these arrangements, which can generate sufficient volumes of production to avoid the supply shortages that encumbered the global vaccination response, to be an indication of a future in which new drugs have multiple suppliers in most low-income and middle-income countries. To explore that possibility, the Viewpoint highlights the political conditions that could make originator firms more inclined to license their products quickly to the MPP, and discusses how public policy can build on the opportunity created by these conditions to promote such licensing further….”

 

Stop Being Alchemists! | Forum

“The authors insightfully quote the Hippocratic Oath, in which physicians swear to “gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.” Observe that this statement is not preconditioned on any practical benefits of sharing knowledge. Indeed, we should recognize that the pursuit of knowledge is fundamentally iterative, where we always build on what came before. Even without practical benefits (though there are many), we have a responsibility to share our discoveries for those who follow. Open science embodies this responsibility and is a necessary condition for doing better science.

It is also instructive to examine the decades-long open-source movement, which advocates for the fundamental freedoms to use, study, build upon, and share. These freedoms align with the inherent motivation for open science. To paraphrase author and journalist Cory Doctorow, who has written extensively on this topic: the difference between alchemists and scientists is that alchemists kept what they knew a secret. They didn’t advance the art, and each one learned in the hardest possible way that drinking mercury is a bad idea….

A long-term goal should be engagement with legislators to reform copyright and patent laws, which, by default, criminalize sharing and stifle innovation….”

UPC member states to vote on full access to judgments – JUVE Patent

“On 8 July, the UPC [Unified Patent Court] Administrative Committee will vote on the final draft of the Rules of Procedure, proposing public access to all judgments and orders. …

Participating EU member states first signed off on the Unified Patent Court in 2013. However, ongoing GDPR developments have threatened the transparency of its administration and judicial output. Now a revised final version of the UPC Rules of Procedure stipulates that the public will have access to the content of all decisions and orders.

Judges will remain responsible for redacting any confidential or personal data before formally issuing the decision or order.

The proposals follow multiple professional bodies demanding that, in the interest of transparency, the Rules of Procedure should stipulate full public access to all documents. As such, the committee will consider the Rules of Procedure revisions, along with issues such as which judges will preside over UPC cases, on and from 8 July 2022. All in all, the day will be crucial for the court’s development….”

Open Science and Intellectual Property Rights: How can they better interact? State of the art and reflections

“Open science (OS) is considered the new paradigm for science and knowledge dissemination. OS fosters cooperative work and new ways of distributing knowledge by promoting effective data sharing (as early and broadly as possible) and a dynamic exchange of research outcomes, not only publications. On the other hand, intellectual property (IP) legislation seeks to balance the moral and economic rights of creators and inventors with the wider interests and needs of society. Managing knowledge outcomes in a new open research and innovation ecosystem is challenging and should become part of the EU’s IP strategy, underpinning EU policies with the new open science–open innovation paradigm. The usual justification for copyright and patents is the incentive and reward for inventors, resulting in benefits for society, fostering innovation and societal impact. Various organisations recognise the need to maintain a balance between the rights of authors and the larger public interest, particularly in education, research and access to information, and to consider the scope, extent and application of intellectual property rights (IPR) in relation to the equitable production, distribution and use of knowledge. However, there are cases of tacit tension in the relationship between IPR and open knowledge distribution noticed on a global scale in different contexts, initiatives and attitudes of the scientific community. This tension has been confirmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, where there is a concern that IPR may prevent public access to medicines, particularly vaccines. Governments, scientists, media and society at large are discussing new licensing provisions to circumvent barriers to human rights such as the right to health or the right to science, without preventing innovation. There is a clear need for reflections such as the one we present here, to address the necessary compatibility of some IPR with OS and open innovation. This report provides a critical analysis of the literature on the relation between OS and IPR protection and how they might live harmoniously, by scoping the statement ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary’. The starting point for the analysis about IPR and OS in Europe is the following hypothesis. • There are no incompatibilities between IPR and OS. ‘On the contrary the IPR framework, if correctly defined from the onset, becomes an essential tool to regulate open science’ (Barbarossa et al., 2017, p. 2). • The European Commission has a role in promoting OS and its balance with IPR. This was especially important when copyright was redefined in Europe and the European Open Science Cloud was being established. • Existing best practices have to be a source of inspiration, for example understanding how public research-performing organisations and industrial partnerships are striking a balance between IPR and open knowledge….”

Open Science and Intellectual Property Rights | European Commission

“This report presents the result of a study that explores the inter-actions and the balance between Open Science and Intellectual Property Rights. The report presents the state of the art and re-flections to scope the statement ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary’ in the context of an evolving and open Research and Innovation ecosystem. Furthermore, the report identifies concrete recommendations for policy makers and for IPR practitioners on the promotion of Open Science and its balance with IPR for better knowledge dissemination to the benefit of all.”

FFII | Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure information on software patents, enforcement of IP, trade agreements

“The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) is a European alliance defending your right to free and competitive software creation since 1999. We are working towards the mitigation of legal risks in software development. We do so by keeping software free from patents and promoting a digital infrastructure based on genuine open standards and free and open hardware and software.

The FFII famously made a difference to prevent a EU software patent directive and continues to shed light on the schemes of the patent system to enter the software sphere and detach itself from democratic and fiscal oversight. One recent example is the Unified Patent Court (UPC). A specialised court which fences patent reforms off. We rely on networking with the European Parliament members and partners from industry and civil society. Its work won the FFII the Outstanding contribution to software development prize by CNET….”

U.S., EU, India, S.Africa reach compromise on COVID vaccine IP waiver text | Reuters

“The United States, European Union, India and South Africa have reached a consensus on key elements of a long-sought intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines, according to a proposed text reviewed by Reuters.

Sources familiar with the talks described the text as a tentative agreement among the four World Trade Organization members that still needs formal approvals from the parties before it can be considered official. Any agreement must be accepted by the WTO’s 164 member countries in order to be adopted….

The document authorizes use of “patented subject matter required for the production and supply of COVID-19 vaccines without the consent of the right holder to the extent necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic”.

It said IP rights would also be waived for ingredients and processes necessary for COVID-19 vaccine manufacture, a move aimed at granting critical know-how to many countries lacking expertise, especially for advanced mRNA-type vaccines….”

Will ‘open-source’ vaccines narrow the inequality gap exposed by Covid? | Financial Times

“The Cape Town initiative is part of a new push by global health authorities, academics and philanthropists to address that and promote alternatives to “Big Pharma’s” business model, which relies on legally enforceable patent protections to raise investment to fund new drugs. The chronic lack of access to vaccines in the developing world has emboldened some researchers to embrace the concept of “open-source pharma” — an idea modelled on the free software movement, which encourages collaboration and sharing to improve code….

For months, the battle for access was centred on intellectual property rights. But the so-called Trips waiver — proposed by India and South Africa in 2020 — which would allow for flexibility in patents for the manufacture of vaccines, is still being discussed at the World Trade Organization. The hub, in contrast, aims to make the technology accessible to poorer nations and also train qualified staff to produce vaccines locally without breaking any intellectual property rules….

Even if it passes all of its regulatory hurdles, Afrigen’s will not be the first open-source vaccine to go into people’s arms, although it would be the first mRNA one to do so….

 

But the promise of the open-source model is, according to its backers, unprecedented. “A year ago we thought that if only we could get Moderna to give us the tech, the recipe, we would fast-track [vaccine production],” says Afrigen’s Terblanche. “Today, I am in a way grateful that they didn’t, because a turnkey tech transfer from a company like Moderna or Pfizer, you get a box, you sit in the box, and your freedom sits only in that box. The scientists would have learned to bake,” she says. “Now they have learned to make.” ”

Texas scientists’ new Covid-19 vaccine is cheaper, easier to make and patent-free | Texas | The Guardian

“A new Covid-19 vaccine is being developed by Texas scientists using a decades-old conventional method that will make the production and distribution cheaper and more accessible for countries most affected by the pandemic and where new variants are likely to originate due to low inoculation rates….

Patent wars over mRNA vaccines have recently heated up. Moderna and the National Institutes of Health are in a dispute over who should get credit for specific discoveries that led to a Covid-19 vaccine which has been delivered to more than 73 million Americans. If Moderna is found to have infringed on the federal government’s patent, it could be forced to pay more than $1bn.

At the same time, activists have called for Pfizer and Moderna to share the technology and knowhow for producing their vaccines, including taking the fight to the World Trade Organization. Low-income countries, which have few vaccine research and production facilities, have vaccinated just one in nine people, according to the World Health Organization. The US has fully vaccinated 67% of the population and provided a third vaccine dose to more than one-third.

Corbevax’s clinical trial data has yet to be released due to resource constraints, but Texas Children’s hospital said the vaccine was over 90% effective against the original Covid-19 strain and over 80% effective against the Delta variant. The vaccine’s efficacy against the Omicron variant is currently being tested….

After being overlooked by government organizations for funding, Bottazzi said, the developers behind Corbevax relied on philanthropic donations to get them over the finish line….

Bottazzi said the reason she and her team did not patent the vaccine was because of her team’s shared philosophy of humanitarianism and to engage in collaboration with the wider scientific community….”