Yale commits to COVID-19 technology licensing principles, maximizing access to innovations that can help address the pandemic

Today, Yale University signed on to a set of technology licensing principles designed to incentivize and allow for broad and equitable access to university innovations during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

These principles are expressed through the “COVID-19 Technology Access Framework,” originally established on April 7, 2020, by Stanford University, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The framework is intended to establish a model by which critically important technologies that may help prevent, diagnose, or treat COVID-19 infections may be deployed for the greatest public benefit without delay.

The Framework’s guidelines provide for non-exclusive, royalty-free licensing of intellectual property rights for most types of technologies during the pandemic and for a short period afterward. Licensees commercializing these urgently needed innovations will be required to distribute the resulting products as widely as possible and at a low cost that allows broad accessibility.

Yale is delighted to join university colleagues around the country in pledging our intent to develop and deploy critically important technologies to fight COVID-19 infections without delay,” said Michael Crair, Yale’s vice provost for research, William Ziegler III Professor of Neuroscience, and professor of ophthalmology & visual science. “Fighting this pandemic requires cooperation and coordination amongst all levels of academic, corporate and government partners, and barriers imposed by intellectual property or licensing agreements have no place in limiting our response to this global crisis.”

Yale has long championed measures to bring the benefits of scientific and technological research more readily to the public. In 2007, the university was a co-author and signatory to the statement, “In the Public Interest:  Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology” (PDF), which addressed the dual goals of nurturing future research and promoting its broadest possible benefit to society. Two years later, Yale led the development of the “Statement of Principles and Strategies for the Equitable Dissemination of Medical Technology” (PDF), which offered a statement of goals and licensing practices designed to promote improved health in developing countries.

Under the new, COVID-19-centered framework, signing institutions have made the commitments outlined in the following shared statement:

COVID-19 Technology Access Framework

We strongly believe that while intellectual property rights can often serve to incentivize the creation of new products, such rights should not become a barrier to addressing widespread, urgent and essential health-related needs. To address the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are each implementing technology transfer strategies to allow for and incentivize rapid utilization of our available technologies that may be useful for preventing, diagnosing and treating COVID-19 infection during the pandemic. To achieve our common goal, we each individually commit to the following guidelines:

  1. We are committed to implementing COVID-19 patenting and licensing strategies that are consistent with our goal of facilitating rapid global access. For most types of technologies, this includes the use of rapidly executable non-exclusive royalty-free licenses to intellectual property rights that we have the right to license, for the purpose of making and distributing products to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19 infection during the pandemic and for a short period thereafter. In return for these royalty-free licenses, we are asking the licensees for a commitment to distribute the resulting products as widely as possible and at a low cost that allows broad accessibility during the term of the license.
  2. We are committed to making vigorous efforts to achieve alignment among all stakeholders in our intellectual property, including research sponsors, to facilitate broad and rapid access to technologies that have been requested to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. We are committed to making any technology transfer transactions related to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic our first priority, and to minimizing any associated administrative burdens.