The world is battling a pandemic of a scale that hasn't happened in a century. There are currently 3.23 million cases worldwide, with nearly 230,000 succumbing to the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2.
As governments worldwide mobilize to respond to the crisis, corporations are too, particularly in the automotive industry. Carmakers started the production of critically-needed ventilators, face masks, face shields, PPEs, and other relevant components. Now three of them are taking it a bit further.
Nissan, Toyota, and Honda, the three leading Japanese automakers, have just signed a joint declaration with 16 other companies and 1 university to basically make available all their intellectual property when used to contribute to activities related to COVID-19 response.
Called the Open COVID-19 Declaration, it states that the members “will not assert any patent, utility model, design or copyright during the time of this crisis, against any activities whose purpose is stopping the spread of COVID-19, including diagnosis, prevention, containment, and treatment.”
The statement makes it clear that the world needs the rapid development of drugs, vaccinations, medical equipment, and products related to mitigating and controlling the spread of the coronavirus. The effort requires “a new kind of cooperation” with governments, the private sector, and the academe, and so the members are effectively waiving their intellectual property rights on their patents and designs for anything related to fighting the pandemic.
What that means is that if a third party wants to use any patent from any of the members on a respirator or a drug, they won't be billed by the owner of the patent.
Nissan, Toyota, and Honda are just the three automotive firms that are part of this group, but we wouldn't be surprised if these companies had patents or designs or proprietary parts that can prove to be useful. Case in point: Ford used in-seat cooling fans to produce powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) for front liners.
Other members of the “coalition” include IT companies, camera or optical equipment manufacturers, and even a company that specializes in seasoning (and MSG): Ajinomoto. Even Chanel is part of the group.
Below is the full list of the members of the Open COVID-19 Declaration:
Ajinomoto Co., Inc.
GenoConcierge Kyoto, Inc.
Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
Konica Minolta, Inc.
LSI Medience Corporation
Mitsui Knowledge Industry Co., Ltd.
NEC Solution Innovators, Ltd.
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
ROHM Co., Ltd.
Toyota Motor Corporation
Tsubakimoto Chain Co.
Yahoo Japan Corporation