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A medical company has reportedly threatened to sue two Italian volunteers who produced life-saving valves, for patent infringement.
As two Italian volunteers used a 3-D printer to produce a much needed respiratory device for coronavirus infected patients, some media reported Tuesday that the original manufacturer threatened to sue them for patent infringement.
"There were people whose lives were in danger, and we acted, Period." Cristian Fracassi, who made the valves with Alessandro Ramaioli, saving at least 10 lives, wrote Sunday in a Facebook post.
Fracassi and Ramaioli, who work at 3-D printing startup Isinnova, were asked by professor Massimo Temporelli to help with manufacturing the valves for only US$1 after hospitals found themselves short of supplies from the source medical company.
The company, which charges US$11,000 one piece, did not share any technical specifications for the production of the devices, which led the volunteers to measure the valves and print from those numbers.
TechDirt's Glyn Moody noted Tuesday the avidity that prompted the medical company to allegedly threaten to sue, exposes the profound problems in the world economic system exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak.
“This is a perfect example of how granting an intellectual monopoly in the form of a patent allows almost arbitrarily high prices to be charged, and quite legally,” he said.
“That would be bad enough in any situation, but when lives are at stake, and Italian hospitals struggle to buy even basic equipment like face masks, demanding such a sum is even worse. And when a pandemic is raging out of control, for a company to threaten those selflessly trying to save lives in this way is completely beyond the pale.”
Nevertheless, Fracassi and Ramaioli are continuing to work hard to manufacture as many devices as possible, UK metro reported.
The pandemic has infected more than 35,000 people in Italy, the second most stricken country after China. The virus has claimed almost 3,000 lives so far in the South European country.