Journal of Business Ethics:1-14 (forthcoming)

In response to the great crises of the COVID-19 coronavirus, virtually all new technologies protected by patent rights have been used in practice from diagnostics, therapeutic, medical equipment, and vaccine to prevention, tracking, and containment of COVID-19. However, the moral justification of patent rights is questioned when pharmaceutical patents conflict with public health. This paper proposes a revised approach of deciding on how to address the conflicts between business ethics and patent protections and then compares the different mechanisms of clearing patent thickets. Our findings highlight that patent pledges may not only contribute to achieving the maximized substantive justice of the public but also help patent pledgors fulfill procedural justice. The advantages of patent pledges have attracted many patent holders to make public statements during the COVID-19 pandemic. In contrast, the disadvantages of a free license may make patent pledges not sustainable for a long time without the related supporting measures. Our findings will be helpful for policymakers or company managers to make an appropriate decision on rationally utilizing patent portfolios for fighting against public health crises.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-021-04873-6
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A Pluralistic Account of Intellectual Property.D. B. Resnik - 2003 - Journal of Business Ethics 46 (4):319-335.

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