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Australian businesses repurposing products to fight COVID-19 – don’t lose sight of the IP ownership

Rebecca Hegarty ||

Like many governments around the world, in response to COVID-19, the Australian government has called for any business that can, to repurpose its offering to support the need for medial and other items which are in short supply.

Amongst the many examples of companies that have led the way are:

  • The Armani Group, who has converted all its four Italian production sites to produce single-use medical overalls for the individual protection of health-care providers fighting the coronavirus; and,
  • Louis Vitton owner LVMH, who has repurposed the production lines of its perfume and cosmetic brands to produce large quantities of hydroalcoholic gels (hand sanitizer) for health workers in France.

Evidently, this change in purposing has required a high degree of innovation whether in the process or product. Some existing products are unavailable due to limited supplies of the reagents used to manufacture them which again has sent owners and innovators to reconsider work arounds.

Anytime there is innovation, there ought to be a conversation around ownership and commercialisation. Often the quickest way to kill a potential product is to have owners at war, and we aren’t just talking about innovations that are for profit. Even potential products that could be not for profit suffer from these problems.

If you are working on new innovative technologies or partnering with another party or parties to sort out a solution, make sure you record the ideas as they arise and who came up with each element. That way you can track back and have a sensible conversation based on recorded facts when it comes time to have a conversation about commercialisation and ownership. Remember there are more ways to demonstrate value than money. Particularly now when generosity is major news, gifts with attribution rights can be just as valuable.

If you have any questions in relation to any of the information in this blog, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a lawyer in Coleman Greig’s Intellectual Property team, who would be more than happy to assist you.

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