Fooya! founder and inventor of ‘digital vaccine’ technology Bhargav Sri Prakash has run into a trademark war with $5-billion pharma giant Moderna Therapeutics. Moderna has filed for the ‘digital vaccines’ trademark and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is opening up the case for public comment tomorrow. Talking to PTI, Silicon Valley-based Sri Prakash claimed that he submitted an abstract proposal in November 2016 and made a presentation at the Stanford University School of Medicines’ Stanford Medicine X Conference on April 22 this year. Moderna filed for exclusive access to ‘digital vaccines’ trademark a month after Sri Prakash submitted the abstract. The Boston-based firm’s first bid to patent ‘digital vaccines’ was rejected by the trademark attorney who cited publications on the subject by Sri Prakash’s FriendsLearn, among other information. Moderna then filed an appeal and USPTO has now agreed to publish the firm’s bid on December 26 in a gazette for public opinion.
‘Digital vaccine’ expands the definition of a standard injected vaccine. It works by inducing targeted neural activity that activates the brain to induce behaviours to reduce risk. “We use the same evidence backed rigour of science that an injected vaccine is subject to – to prove efficacy,” Sri Prakash said. Sri Prakash, 41, says he will challenge the Boston-based biotechnology startup Moderna Therapeutics for the patent. Supporting the challenge is Stanford MedX, the world’s most-discussed academic medical conference – the genesis of the current flashpoint.
“The concept of digital vaccines developed through a scientifically rigorous and evidence backed life science-based approach by the author (Sri Prakash) and his team on April 22, 2017, was very well received by the reviewers. “The possibility of the exclusive ownership of the trademark rights to Digital Vaccines may undermine the scientific progress and research focused development of this emerging field,” Stanford University has said in a letter reviewed by PTI. Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon have sent letters to USPTO batting for Sri Prakash.
“Our position is in favour of keeping ‘digital vaccines’ as an emerging field of science or a subcategory of vaccines,” says Sri Prakash. On his part, Sri Prakash walked away from a string of ventures, including a hedge fund to launch FriendsLearn, and he fears that big pharma’s assertion of exclusive rights over the young field of ‘digital vaccines’ will crowd out upcoming startups like his. His company, FriendsLearn, is a self-funded Indian startup behind the medical app, Fooya!. The app, scientifically validated by global medical institutions, helps children make better food choices via immersive gaming.