The world is facing a pandemic. It’s an unforeseen health crisis and the entire world is going through it. The COVID-19 virus is highly contagious and deadly. There is no vaccine and it’s very difficult to trace the contact and source of the virus. Most of the countries are in a lockdown and non-essential services are suspended.
However at the same time, there are essential services that need to be active. There are health professionals, police, social workers, community helpers who are out in the field interacting with hundreds of people every day and are highly vulnerable. We have already heard of deaths of sanitation workers, doctors, nurses who got infected while performing their duty. At the same time there has been news from all over the country about a shortage of PPE kits for frontline Corona warriors. The frontline warriors depend on PPE equipment like gloves, face masks, face shields, and goggles to prevent themselves from the infection.
This is a rather long process and in the current scenario, which requires instant manufacturing of the PPE kits, this process needs government intervention. As per reports, and as published in Financial Express, a leading business paper, “The Indian Navy has taken the initiative to manufacture Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Naval Dockyard with the involvement of Naval doctors, and successfully completed Testing and has got them validated by ICMR approved Testing Lab. This is the first time that a patent for PPE, an item which is very critical for those in the health sector is being filed.”
As quoted in Financial Express, “According to the Indian Navy, “As a step further to facilitate the mass production of these PPE for all, they have applied for a patent for the PPE design and material. This Naval PPE patent has further been filed by Intellectual Property Facilitation Cell of Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Science and Technology. The Naval PPE is unique in terms of specialized fabric researched and used to achieve better ‘breathability’ while meeting the stringent PPE Standards. This makes the PPE useful for medical staff working in hot and humid Indian climates.”
Also, many countries are adopting Compulsory Licensing of Patents. Compulsory licenses are authorizations by a sovereign state that allow a third party to manufacture, use, sell and/or distribute a product which has been patented, without obtaining consent or explicit permission/license of the patent owner. An international legal agreement called Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights governs the provisions related to compulsory licensing. This understanding exists between all the member nations of the World Trade Organization including India.
It’s imperative that we gear up our system and encourage domestic manufacturers of repute. With domestic production, India can control both the quality and price of PPE kits. China has also been increasing the price of PPE kits owing to high demand. Hence, the government needs to take certain strategic decisions on policy of PPE sourcing. It needs stronger quality control measures, safety regulations and price regulations to ensure that treatment is available to people at affordable prices and at the same time our frontline warriors are protected from the infection. To understand more about this, you can talk to the team at Rahul Dev, who are experts in patent law.