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How Patent Abuse Could Hurt the Fight Against the Pandemic

Slate – Scientific research that is funded by the public should be available to the public. “Scientific research that is funded by the public should be available to the public. That commonsense principle is no more apparent than in the middle of a public health crisis. And for the most part, researchers and journal publishers are doing what they can to make papers related to COVID-19 available to the public. Several countries have committed to making the coronavirus-related research they fund available to the public. Even the big academic publishers—notoriously reluctant to adopt open access policies—are making COVID-19-related research available to the public without the embargo period allowed under current law…Over the past decade, new rules at the federal and state level have guaranteed that the bulk of government-funded scientific research is available to the public that paid for it (albeit with that pesky one-year embargo period). But over that time period, universities and other government grantees have ever more aggressively filed patents on that same body of research. And unfortunately, some of those patents have fallen into the hands of bad actors. Even as open access has made strides toward becoming the default for government-funded research, patent trolls have made it more difficult for practicing companies to use that knowledge…”

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