On January 21, 2020, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (Institute) applied for a national patent for the use of remdesivir, an experimental drug developed by Gilead Sciences Inc (Gilead), which is currently being tested for its potential to fight coronavirus.

In 2016, Gilead applied for a Chinese patent for the use of remdesivir to treat coronavirus. The coronavirus family includes COVID 19, the novel virus responsible for the outbreak in Wuhan, China. Gilead has yet to be granted this patent. Last month, the government-run Institute, based in the city at the center of the outbreak, also applied for a patent for the use of remdesivir to treat the specific coronavirus COVID 19. The Institute acknowledged that there are “intellectual property barriers” associated with its application but said it acted to “protect national interests.”

Under World Trade Organization rules, a country has the right to declare an emergency and compel a company to license a patent to protect the public. The country would then be required to pay a license fee that is deemed fair market value. However, in this case, there is speculation that China might be able to avoid that fee if the patent were to be granted to the Institute. In order for the Institute’s application to be approved, the Institute must prove that the use of remdesivir for treatment of the COVID 19 coronavirus strain in particular is inventive despite Gilead’s disclosure of the use of the same product for other coronaviruses.

Summary By: Alessia Monastero


20 02 26

Disclaimer: This Newsletter is intended to provide readers with general information on legal developments in the areas of e-commerce, information technology and intellectual property. It is not intended to be a complete statement of the law, nor is it intended to provide legal advice. No person should act or rely upon the information contained in this newsletter without seeking legal advice.

E-TIPS is a registered trade-mark of Deeth Williams Wall LLP.