Boom in COVID-19 Fighting Tech; China, USA, Republic of Korea, Germany, and UK Lead

Geneva, April 20, 2023

Innovators around the world have filed thousands of patent applications for new technologies to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, with the vast majority of the envisioned products related to therapies to help stricken patients, a new WIPO report shows.

Overall, China, USA, Republic of Korea, Germany and UK were the leading origins of the 7,758 patent applications filed between January 2020 and September 2022, according to the newly published “Patent Landscape Report: COVID-19-related vaccines and therapeutics.”

Among the patent applications, which are one measure of human innovative activity, some 4,787 were for therapeutics meant to help people already infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 – including nearly 10 percent of the patents based on traditional medicine. Some 1,298 of the applications were for vaccine development.

The speed of innovation in this field has been built on a foundation of scientific research and R&D investment stretching over decades, which in turn, has been supported by the incentives provided by the global IP ecosystem.

This patent landscape report provides researchers, decision makers and other stakeholders with insights into how the patent system has adapted and responded to the challenges of the last two and a half years.

WIPO Director General Daren Tang

Other key findings include:

  • China leads the origin of patent applications in both vaccines and therapeutics, followed by the United States, Germany and the Republic of Korea for vaccines, and the United States, Republic of Korea and India for therapeutics.
  • Patent filings were almost evenly split between companies and research organizations: 52 percent and 42 percent, respectively, for vaccines, and 49 percent and 38 percent, respectively, for therapeutics.
  • Antibodies are the fastest growing type of biologic therapeutics, accounting for about one-third of the patents filed in this category. Their newly developed virus-neutralizing form represents a new class of antivirals.
  • About a quarter of the applications filed had more than one assignee, indicating collaborations among companies and research organization.

About WIPO’s Patent Landscape Reports

Patent Landscape Reports provide a snapshot of the patent situation of a particular technology, within a country, region or globally. They can inform policy discussions, strategic research planning or technology transfer. Patent landscaping starts with a state-of-the-art search for the relevant technology in a selected patent database, followed by analyzing the search results. The analysis answers specific questions, for example patterns in patenting activity or key regions of origin of filings.

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About WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 193 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society's evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.

For more information, please contact the News and Media Division at WIPO:
  • Tel: (+41 22) 338 81 61 / 338 72 24
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