Israeli entrepreneurs race to protect potential coronavirus solutions

The Ehrlich Group has filed approximately 30 patent applications for coronavirus-related technologies, from dozens of Israeli entrepreneurs.

Dr. Gal Ehrlich  (photo credit: PR)
Dr. Gal Ehrlich
(photo credit: PR)
As the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, the race to protect potential solutions for the pandemic is heating up.
While moving to secure intellectual property rights inevitably takes place quietly behind the scenes, out of the public eye and the noise of the laboratory or workshop, the sector is currently "bubbling" with activity.
"Whoever finds the vaccine or a treatment for the coronavirus, or whoever finds a quick way to diagnose, will want to enjoy the revenues that is likely to emanate from such technology," Dr. Gal Ehrlich, founder and managing director of the Ehrlich Group, told The Jerusalem Post. "Since the virus is here to stay, at least for many seasons, these technologies may have a lot of value."
In recent weeks, Ehrlich's firm - the largest patent attorney office in Israel - has filed approximately 30 patent applications for coronavirus-related technologies, as dozens of Israeli entrepreneurs race to contribute to the battle against the pandemic. A similar process is happening in patent attorney offices worldwide.
"Many of our clients have reason to believe that their technology may be efficient in treating coronavirus. Many of them have started, and some have already succeeded, to raise money based on such filings," said Ehrlich, who heads an office of about 160 employees, with one-third holding a PhD in one or more scientific and technology-related disciplines. 
Solutions requiring protection, he added, range from diagnostic technologies for the identification of coronavirus to anti-viral treatments and immune modulators.
"From an intellectual property perspective, the coronavirus crisis very much resembles the SARS outbreak," Ehrlich said. "The only difference, it seems, is that SARS went away within a few months and this seems to be accompanying humankind for some time to come."
Due to the high costs of drug development, a monopoly is critical. Accordingly, Ehrlich says, protecting technologies is a critical first step for any developer seeking to raise money. Where suitable, development can be re-purposed to treating the novel coronavirus, like Israel’s MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute.
If sufficient funds are allocated to accelerating the intellectual property process worldwide, patents could be issued within one year.
"In order to develop a treatment or vaccine, you need money. Israeli start-ups don’t have money to do such a diversion. To do that, either you do it with own funds or by raising money. In any case, you first have to file for a patent," Ehrlich said, adding that his firm offers clients a discount to encourage them to file patents related to the coronavirus.
"Anyone who has a technology which can be re-purposed should first secure intellectual property rights, then raise money and immediately start to develop in the new coronavirus direction, in order to reduce misery for humankind."