The McGeorge Alternative Summer Advantage Program (“McGeorge ASAP”) is a self-directed volunteer summer legal research project created by alum Lexi Purich Howard and Asst. Dean of Career Development Molly Stafford in response to COVID-19. The program matched McGeorge students who lost summer opportunities due to the pandemic with local attorneys for guidance on a research project on the topic of the student’s choosing. This week’s ASAP paper was authored by Samuel Kim (3L, 2021) under the mentorship of Christian Camarce (’07), a director in Sterne Kessler’s Electronics Practice Group.
“Given the current situation the world is experiencing with coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) — in which over 600,000 people have died worldwide, including about 150,000 deaths in the United States alone — corporations and universities race to develop a vaccine to slow the spread of the virus. Patents play a vital role in the research to develop the vaccine. Patents provide a safeguard to patent holders to exclude others from exploiting their innovations. With respect to vaccine-related patents, patent holders can exclude others from practicing various vaccine-related aspects concerning, for example, micro-organisms in a living but recombinant state, antigens and antibodies, and processes relating to methods for producing the vaccine.
This paper discusses aspects of patenting vaccine-related innovations in the United States in three sections. Section I describes patents and their purpose. Section II surveys patent requirements and whether a COVID-19 vaccine can be patentable. Finally, section III discusses the possible moral and ethical dilemmas that vaccine developer may face in view of deciding whether to obtain a vaccine-related patent…”