Manufacturers are being urged by governments around the world to expand production to include life-saving medical technology to tackle COVID-19. We’ve produced an alert (here) to help guide manufacturers which are new to this space on key legal challenges.

As COVID-19 infections increase globally, health systems face a shortage of life-saving equipment and essential supplies to tackle the virus. Until a pharmacological treatment is developed, ventilators are vital treatment for the minority of COVID-19 patients requiring critical care. There is an urgent need for a rapid escalation in the manufacturing of a full range of test kits (self-administered, antibody tests, etc.). To mitigate the crisis, governments are turning to the private sector for assistance, not just in physical manufacturing but also for capabilities in design, procurement, assembly, testing and shipping. Most recently, the UK government appealed to its manufacturing sector to switch from making other products to producing ventilators. Such requests are likely to become commonplace as national leaders seek innovative solutions to the crisis.

Our alert suggests the following steps for manufacturers:

  • Monitor emergency state powers closely in terms of requisitioning, etc.
  • Reach out to appropriate contacts in the relevant authorities. Industry trade associations are acting as intermediaries here and can help make fast connections.
  • Understand governmental proposals to relax regulatory approvals and enforcement for medical equipment.
  • Put in place virtual manufacturing contracts so as to “shadow” existing regulatory approvals.
  • Carefully analyse product flows and monitor the supply chain for essential components.
  • Consider a temporary joint venture to provide certainty of production capacity.
  • In negotiations, be reasonable and flexible to move things along as fast as possible.
  • Recognise the different pressures in terms of speed, scope and term, pricing, technology transfer, and liability in consensual and compulsory government IP licensing.
  • Ensure consent and consultation when changing employees’ jobs.
  • Structure arrangements to fall within the boundaries of competition law or consider emergency engagement with the relevant antitrust regulators.
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Michelle is a partner in the Firm's Intellectual Property Practice Group and head of the IP team in London. Michelle specialises in transactional IP.

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Jannan guides clients through transformational corporate transactions, particularly in relation to cross-border mergers and acquisitions, complex multijurisdictional carve-out transactions, private equity and infrastructure transactions, joint ventures and corporate reorganisations.

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Marc Fèvre has over 20 years of experience working in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East and is recognised in his field by legal directories. He has a particular focus on the renewable energy sector and the energy transition and jointly heads the Firm’s renewable energy sub-sector group.

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Julia is an associate in our London office.

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Sunny Mann is a Partner in Baker McKenzie's London office and co-leads the UK Compliance and Investigations Practice, as well as the UK International Commercial and Trade Practice.

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Samantha has extensive experience in all areas of EC and UK competition law and is an eminent name in the cartel field and an experienced merger control specialist. She also regularly advises the boards of UK plc's in numerous industry sectors on antitrust compliance matters.

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Kim advises on a wide range of employment issues with a particular focus on the global HR aspects of transactions (carve outs, M&A, outsourcing), global projects, complex and high value employment litigation, data protection and compliance, collective rights (unions, industrial action and European works councils), and the employment aspects of investigations, as well as day-to-day HR matters.

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Hiroshi Sheraton's practice covers all aspects of intellectual property law with a particular emphasis on contentious patent and trade mark matters and life sciences.

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Graham advises on the regulation of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, chemicals, food, and a wide range of consumer and industrial products, acting for clients in connection with global integrations and reorganisations; product manufacturing, marketing, supply and distribution; EU and UK product authorisation regimes; non-conformities, regulatory investigations and prosecutions.

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