Technology Trusts

Institutional efforts such as IAVI’s Neutralizing Antibody Consortium highlight the need to go beyond the actions of individual institutions and private-sector firms to collective action. The experiences of the Malaria Vaccine Initiative demonstrate the complex patent landscape that can result when institutions act as individuals, rather than collectively. For 10 key malaria antigens, there were 167 patent families filed by 75 different organizations. Considering just the moderate- to high-priority patents, 39 of the 167 patent families fell into that category, and they were held by 21 organizations. Of the moderate- to high-priority patents, 69 percent (27) had originally been filed by a public entity. At the time of the study, only 21 percent of those patents (8) remained available for licensing from the public entity (Shotwell, 2007).

As noted above, these types of patent thickets can stifle innovation. An alternative approach involving collective action is the use of patent pools to alter the traditional one patentee–one licensee relationship by encouraging a many-to-many exchange of intellectual property. So highlighted a program at Duke University that is working to conceptualize how a technology trust might create an enabling intellectual property environment for rare and neglected diseases (see Figure 6-1). Such a trust would not only use pool-

FIGURE 6-1 Duke University concept of how a technology trust might create an enabling intellectual property environment for rare and neglected diseases.

FIGURE 6-1 Duke University concept of how a technology trust might create an enabling intellectual property environment for rare and neglected diseases.

NOTE: MTA = material transfer agreement.

SOURCE: So, 2008.



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