The spread of SARS-CoV-2 has created an urgent need to scale up the production and supply of essential medical equipment, including so-called Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator Systems (RMVSs), to treat COVID-19 patients. To help meet this challenge, the UK government announced on 3 April 2020 that it will indemnify designers and manufacturers of RMVSs for claims relating to infringement of third-party intellectual property (IP) rights and for product liability claims resulting from defective equipment.
Formal notification of the two indemnities was given by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove, to the Public Accounts Committee on 3 April 2020. In the notice, Minister Grove noted that he could not give the normal fourteen sitting days’ notice because “commercial negotiations have only just concluded and contract signature did not allow further delay”. Details of the terms of the referenced agreement have not, however, been provided, as they were said to be commercially sensitive and would continue to be until negotiations had been finalised. It is therefore not yet clear who are the parties to the agreement, whether any cap will apply to the indemnities, whether the government will offer the same terms across the board, or whether it will negotiate them in individual supply agreements.