Importance of Provisional Patent Filings in the Time of Pandemic

Date : June 27, 2020

Current Scenario:

The world is going through a rough phase and COVID-19 has created a catastrophe in everyday lives. In these hard times, each and every industry is doing a bit to overturn the impacts caused by the spread of COVID- 19. This is evident from the rapid rise in donations starting from protective masks, sanitizers, ventilators and many other life-saving drugs.

patentThe governments along with the FMCG, Pharma and Medical devices companies are taking the center stage in alleviating or eradicating the spread of the killer COVID-19. FMCGs are the frontline contenders with the hand wash/sanitizer systems, while the medical devices companies are focusing on the production of protection devices as well as the diagnostic systems. The pharma companies are mainly focusing their research on identifying the potential vaccine candidates and re-assessing the potency of the existing anti-viral drugs that are previously tested for Ebola, SARS, and HIV, for their potential use in COVID-19 treatment.

Opportunities:

However, the new pandemic has been a game-changer for many enterprises. Small scale industries through large scale industries have adapted to the current business environment, where we can see the maximum number of new products being launched ranging from hand sanitizers, surgical masks and personal protective equipment, Sidha / Ayurveda products, as well as tech apps/products for the detection of the spread of COVID-19. One well-known example is that the textile/fashion industry has adapted to the current situation and has started producing protective aprons, face masks, etc.

Research institutions, Universities, and Individual inventors are doing their fair bit for the prevention of COVD-19 Spread. While research institutions and Universities are highly engaged in the research for new chemical entities, diagnostic equipment including rapid test and diagnostic kits; the inventors are also coming up with newer traditional treatment products, sanitizing compositions, etc. for the prevention.

Importance of protecting the inventions:

Some-day or the other, there will be a cure for COVID-19 pandemic. However, the main impact made by this pandemic is the inevitable lifestyle change of the public, which is expected to last for a very long time.

In these unprecedented times, organizations/corporations and the inventors are mainly focusing on the research and marketing of their products, then filing patent applications. Innovations made during these times might become the biggest asset to the researches and might prove to be valuable in the aftermath of the catastrophe. For any organization or a company or a researcher, patent applications will prove to be a savior in these times.

Patenting is not always a speedier process. It has its own limitations and timelines. However, protecting an invention may not always mean an application for protecting the complete invention but acquiring the priority for the invention i.e. filing the provisional application for the inventive concept at the conceptual stage itself. Filing a provisional application would not only provide us with a timeline of 12 months for coming up with the complete specification but might also help in reducing the cost of filing patent i.e. abandoning the application in case of a prior-art, or exploring the commercial viability of the invention.

Other Intellectual Property Protection Mechanisms:

There has been an array of budding inventors/companies with limited resources and are exploring their foray in newer markets, like the companies currently involved in the manufacturing of face masks, personal protective equipment, cleaning or sanitizing products including hand sanitizers, diagnostic kits, etc. Apart from patent protection, Trademark protection and company registration are vital for the growth of the business and marketing of recognizable products. These might legally protect the product from being used without the permission of the source company.

After we beat the pandemic, there may be a need for these companies to focus their attention on stimulating the economy and helping us bounce back. For some companies, this will mean utilizing the innovations that they have created during the pandemic.

Today, a company’s ability to capitalize on its inventions is frequently tied to its patent portfolio. Filing a patent application is likely not at the top of most companies’ list of priorities right now, especially companies operating with limited resources. It’s a good idea for companies to seek counsel from the very beginning of the patent application process.

Although these may not seem practicable at this moment, there are reasonably economical steps that companies can take, even on their own if needed, to protect potential patent rights, such as filing a provisional patent application.

Author: Govindhaswamy Srinivasan, a Principal Associate - Patents at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates, and IP Attorneys.  In case of any queries please contact/write back to us at support@ipandlegalfilings.com