Patents to the Rescue - Disasters and Patent Law

DePaul Journal of Health Care Law, Vol. 10, p. 309, 2007

50 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2008 Last revised: 28 Sep 2008

See all articles by Andrew W. Torrance

Andrew W. Torrance

University of Kansas - School of Law

Date Written: 2007


The patent system can play a vital role in preparing for, mitigating, reacting to, and preventing disasters. In the far term, it ensures that society continually improves its technological capacity to deal with disasters. In the near term, the patent system includes a diversity of legal options for ensuring access to patented inventions needed in disasters. Foreseeable and surprise disasters require different legal approaches to ensure timely access to patented inventions while ensuring that society is able to continue enhancing both its general and specific technological capacities. Accomplishing optimal results requires careful balancing of far term and near term interests, respect for both international and U.S. patent law, a clear understanding of the interrelation of different aspects of patent law, insight into the incentives that drive technological innovation, and appreciation of the disparate challenges posed by different kinds of disasters. When employed wisely, the patent system can offer society powerful assistance to prevent, prepare for, and mitigate disasters.

Keywords: patents, disasters, innovation

JEL Classification: K11, K23, K29, K32, K33, K39

Suggested Citation

Torrance, Andrew W., Patents to the Rescue - Disasters and Patent Law (2007). DePaul Journal of Health Care Law, Vol. 10, p. 309, 2007. Available at SSRN:

Andrew W. Torrance (Contact Author)

University of Kansas - School of Law ( email )

Green Hall
1535 W. 15th Street
Lawrence, KS 66045-7577
United States

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