Who would have patent rights to an Australian Coronavirus cure?

While Australian scientists and medical researchers race to find a cure for the coronavirus, a Brisbane intellectual property and patents lawyer says the Crown could use any patent rights to a locally- devised proven vaccine.

The problem is the world is awash with rumours and hysteria as the coronavirus spreads from China.

A team of Australian researchers have this month claimed they’ve found a cure for the novel coronavirus and hope to have patients enrolled in a nationwide trial by the end of the month.

University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research director Professor David Paterson told news.com.au they have seen two drugs used to treat other conditions wipe out the virus in test tubes.

He said one of the medications, given to some of the first people to test positive for COVID-19 in Australia, had already resulted in “disappearance of the virus” and complete recovery from the infection.

These news reports come on the heels of many wild rumours circulating, one of them about patenting a cure once it is created. One thriving rumour is that some global financial heavyweight will exploit the cure and make trillions from it. We are being warned to prepare for the "long haul", with the possibility that extreme measures just implemented could last for up to 18 months until a coronavirus vaccine is fully developed.

This has raised the question of who would financially benefit from the patent rights to any vaccine? The hunt is happening world wide but we need to appreciate that, in Australia certainly, there is an exception in the Patents act for Crown use.

The exception originated in war time so that in times of war the Crown could exploit intellectual property – for a fair price.

Thus, if our population was at risk, the Government could step in and make use of the cure.

It’s not widely appreciated that something as esoteric as a virus cure could be subject to patent laws, but it is a form of intellectual property and as such, can be legally protected and sold.

Speculation on who could own and profit from a coronavirus cure is just one of the wild rumours swirling about on social media pages now.

Among the rumours is one that spraying chlorine or alcohol on your body will kill the virus (The World Health Organisation says it won’t work), nor will gargling with mouthwash or rinsing your nose with a saline solution.

And in case you’ve heard this one, the WHO says eating garlic will not prevent infection but there is substantial fictional lore that it wards off vampires.

WHO is stating antibiotics do not work against the virus, as they are geared toward bacteria.

There’s so much hysteria around this virus to the point where people are stressing that letters or packages from China could carry the virus. The World Health Organisation says not.

Nor can it be transmitted via electronic means. Unfortunately computers too often have their own unique viruses. In the physical world of the coronavirus, thorough hygiene practices work best as we await the eventual cure breakthrough.