Auto companies volunteering to make critical medical supplies such as respirators and ventilators to stem the COVID-19 outbreak must carefully navigate product liability and intellectual property concerns that could end up thwarting their efforts to aid first responders in the public health crisis, experts say.
Ravi Mohan, an IP partner at Rutan & Tucker said they’ll have to be aware of who owns the designs for products and whether they need to get licenses for those designs.
“Ventilators are a crowded IP space,” says Mohan, who co-chairs the firm’s Automotive practice. “It’s possible that you would be stepping on someone’s toes from an IP standpoint, so it’s unclear if companies are going maverick or collaborating with someone.”
It’s therefore important for any of these companies trying to promulgate technology that’s not their core competency to not rush a product to market, and to spell out rights and liabilities in their joint venture and other agreements.
“You can say we pivoted this auto chassis line to ventilators within two weeks and that sounds great, but if you put a product in the marketplace and if something goes sideways, the risk is really high,” Mohan said.
Automakers’ Shift To Med Supplies Comes With Legal Hazards (subscription required)(subscription required)