A patent pool is an agreement of multiple patent owners to license patents to one another, or to third parties, to develop a new product.
Most existing patent pools are in the electronics industry, where participants volunteer as both providers and users. The patent pool helps participants to efficiently manage the development of their technology as they do not have to negotiate with the many patent holders of upstream components. Only patents that are essential to the central technology are added to the patent pool and, in general, the patents deal with upstream technology and not with final products.
Novartis policy on patent pools
Due to the nature of innovations in pharmaceutical research and development, the collaborative mechanisms of patent pools are not readily applicable - the active ingredient itself makes up the pharmaceutical product rather than several essential parts (as in the electronics industry). For any given pharmaceutical product, there may be one absolute essential patent, which is linked to the single active ingredient - it is rare for overlapping, complementary patent rights for one product to be held by numerous parties. Novartis sees no value in patent pools for small molecules in the pharmaceutical field.
The absence of patent pools in our industry has not stopped healthcare companies from voluntarily collaborating to develop combinations of compatible drugs that enhance treatment options for patients. Mutual license agreements, where appropriate, play a role in enabling innovation.
Novartis would favorably consider issuing a license, under mutually agreeable terms, to interested parties looking to further research and develop patented inventions for neglected tropical diseases.