Open Covid IP PledgeApril 23, 2020

The Open Covid Pledge is a recent initiative to assist in finding solutions to the corona virus.

In essence, companies that sign on to the pledge agree to provide royalty free, limited time licenses to their intellectual property, so that others may research, develop, use, and make publicly available technology that may fight the corona battle.  The pledge is intended to have a wide scope to cover diagnosis, prevention, containment, and treatment.  The goal is to allow anyone to discover or create medical equipment, treatments, test kits, software, biotech, and artificial intelligence which will help end the disease.

The pledge is intended to continue until 1 year after the World Health Organization declares an end to this pandemic.  The license covers patents, copyrights, and all other rights, and the promise to not file any litigation or regulatory proceedings.

Companies that have joined this pledge include IBM (which owns the most patents in the U.S.), Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Intel, Hewlett Packard, and Sandia National Labs.  Several universities with patent rights have also offered their IP for Covid 19 prevention, diagnosis and testing, such as Stanford, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, and the Innovative Genomics Institute of UC Berkeley and the University of California.

A draft of the Open COVID License was written by a group of scientists and legal experts.  Companies can use this draft or create their own similar licensing agreement, which should eliminate any fear of being sued for use of intellectual property owned by the participants.

Kirk Hartung is a patent attorney and chair of the mechanical and electrical practice group at McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC.  For additional information please visit or contact Kirk directly via email at

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