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The (trade) secrets of IP in Digital Healthcare Innovation

The intersection of digital technology and healthcare has heralded a new era of innovation, promising improved patient outcomes and personalized healthcare. However, the journey towards developing and deploying digital healthcare solutions is not without its challenges, particularly when it comes to intellectual property (IP) and patents. These challenges are multifaceted and stem from the unique characteristics of the sector.

Protecting IP involved in products or services that leverage AI is important for businesses to maintain a competitive advantage. A good IP strategy not only protects your product from legal and marketing challenges by competitors, but it also provides an advantageous position to protect your product and market share.

While patents are clearly the cornerstone of innovation in healthcare, this is not so straightforward in the case of digital healthcare innovation. As many solutions incorporate sophisticated algorithms and data analytics, obtaining patents can be a labyrinthine process due to the evolving nature of patent laws surrounding software. Furthermore, the rapid advancement of technology presents a conundrum, often rendering patents outdated by the time they are granted. Instead, innovators in the digital field opt for a combination of different IP protection strategies, relying a lot on alternative IP protection strategies, such as trade secrets and copyrights.

  • Trade secrets are faster, easier and cheaper than patents, suitable¬†for the evolving nature of digital technologies. Moreover, a trade secret does not require public disclosure of technical components as required in a patent application. Once a combination of facts, figures, formulae, procedures, steps, and constituents of a solution or product is kept secret, the competitive advantage can be maintained till an equally efficient competitor arrives.
  • Copyright is another IP protection tool that should be considered in your IP strategy as it may provide an enforceable right for your AI software to complement patents and trade secrets. Copyright protects original works that are authored by a human.
  • Patent protection is ultimately a very powerful right given that lasts for 20 years, but careful thought and evaluation should be used to assess if seeking patent protection is needed and on what aspects prior to filing any patent application.

Collaborate with experienced IP attorneys specialized in the digital healthcare sector. They can navigate the intricate legal landscape and assist in drafting strong patent applications. Closely follow the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), whose mission is to support well-informed policy choices and provide practical tools and guidance to navigate the complex IP landscape in the fast-moving digital world. Through an open process, WIPO leads several discussions that cover relevant topics to digital health, such as AI and IP policy implications.

In the intricate realm of digital healthcare innovation, employing well-crafted IP strategies becomes a compass that guides visionaries toward sustainable success instead of just a legal obligation. A well-defined IP protection strategy that reflects the needs of the innovation at hand is a critical factor in attracting investor funding. Investors are particularly interested in a robust IP strategy, as it demonstrates a company’s commitment to safeguarding its unique innovations and technologies. This not only enhances the company’s competitive advantage but also signals a proactive approach to mitigating potential risks from competitors.

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Picture of Isabella Zampeta

Isabella Zampeta