Journey Colab is an intentionally non-traditional startup that is developing evidence-based psychedelic therapeutics for addiction, and also working to enable a broader healing economy that includes on-the-ground specialists, the infrastructure to support them, and community support. In order to protect this vision and succeed in its overall mission, Journey Colab has leveraged various strategies, including filing patent applications.
One family of applications is built around the use of Journey Colab’s novel form of synthetic mescaline to treat patients with alcohol use disorder, who are in desperate need of durable remission from this chronic, relapsing condition. Synthetic mescaline is not sourced from the endangered peyote cactus, but is made in a laboratory, and provides an alternative that shifts the burden away from the natural resource that Indigenous communities rely on. Journey Colab has filed several applications to protect these inventions, and the first will publish in December.
Pursuing patents on psychedelics, and in particular those with a long history of use like mescaline, has stirred controversy and criticism, much of which Journey Colab agrees with. Thus, in crafting a patent strategy, our wish is for it to embody our same commitment to the ethical stewardship of mescaline as our general approach to developing mescaline for the market, which is in alignment with the goal of reciprocity and benefit sharing.
At Journey Colab, we do not believe patenting truly novel inventions is inherently wrong, and we understand that investors should be rewarded for the risk and time involved in developing medicines for regulatory approval. Otherwise, these treatments might not reach patients at all.
At the same time, we recognize that patents can be used to exclude practices which are properly in the public domain. With plant medicines for example, one may feel concern that a patent on the naturally-occurring compound could turn all use of the natural product into infringement. We also understand that patents can chill certain activities, even if the patents are not meant to be applied to them. For instance, in the context of patented traditional medicines, those leading or participating in the ceremonial use of those medicines may be right to feel hesitation or concern.
And while these concerns may be unjustified based on the intent of the inventors or the original patent applicant, patents often change hands, and many ultimately find their way into those of a company whose very goal is to assert patents on activities not previously meant to be infringing.
Journey Colab wishes to dispel each of these concerns. This pledge has been inspired by our consultation process with Indigenous communities, which is detailed in our White Paper. Our intent is never to assert our patents on mescaline against the non-commercial use of naturally-derived mescaline and mescaline-containing plants, or on certain ceremonial and traditional practices, including and in particular the Indigenous use of peyote. Moreover, our intent is that all future patent owners must be bound in the same manner.
To clarify these intentions and render them enforceable, Journey Colab makes a binding and irrevocable promise, which is set forth in its Patent Non-Assertion Pledge published today.