Crown can patent Australian COVID-19 cure
As Australian scientists and researchers work to develop a cure to coronavirus, it is possible that the Crown could use its patent rights to such a locally devised proven vaccine.
There have been “may wild rumours circulating” about private entities patenting a cure for coronavirus and exploiting the cure to earn trillions of dollars, says EAGLEGATE Lawyers principal Nicole Murdoch.
However, in the event of an Australian-developed cure, there are legislative exceptions via which the Crown could patent it, she said.
“We are being warned to prepare for the ‘long haul’, with the possibility that extreme measures just implemented could last for up to 18 months until a coronavirus vaccine is fully developed. This has raised the question of who would financially benefit from the patent rights to any vaccine?”
“The hunt is happening worldwide, but we need to appreciate that, in Australia certainly, there is an exception in the Patents Act for Crown use,” she explained.
Ms Murdoch said that the exception originated in war time, so that during such periods, the Crown could “exploit intellectual property – for a fair price”.
“Thus, if our population was at risk, the government could step in and make use of the cure,” she advised.
Ms Murdoch outlined that it is not widely appreciated that “something as esoteric as a virus cure” could be subject to patent laws, but it is a form of intellectual property, and as such, can be legally protected and sold.
Speculation on who could own and profit from a coronavirus cure “is just one of the wild rumours swirling about on social media pages now”, she mused.
“Among the rumours is one that spraying chlorine or alcohol on your body will kill the virus (the World Health Organisation says it won’t work), nor will gargling with mouthwash or rinsing your nose with a saline solution. And, in case you’ve not heard this one, WHO says eating garlic will not prevent infection but there is substantial fictional lore that it wards off vampires,” Ms Murdoch’s statement noted.