Global landscape of patents related to humancoronaviruses

Kunmeng Liu, Zixuan Gu, Md Islam, Thomas Scherngell, Xiangjun Kong, Jing Zhao, Xin Chen, Yuanjia Hu

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


At present, the COVID-19 pandemic is running rampant, having caused 2.18 million deaths. Characterizing the global patent landscape of coronaviruses is essential not only for informing research and policy, given the current pandemic crisis, but also for anticipating important future developments. While patents are a promising indicator of technological knowledge production widely used in innovation research, they are often an underused resource in biological sciences. In this study, we present a patent landscape for the seven coronaviruses known to infect humans. The information included in this paper provides a strong intellectual groundwork for the ongoing development of therapeutic agents and vaccines along with a deeper discussion of intellectual property rights under epidemic conditions. The results show that there has been a rapid increase in human coronavirus patents, especially COVID-19 patents. China and the United States play an outstanding role in global cooperation and patent application. The leading role of academic institutions and government is increasingly apparent. Notable technological issues related to human coronaviruses include pharmacochemical treatment, diagnosis of viral infection, viral-vector vaccines, and traditional Chinese medicine. Furthermore, a critical challenge lies in balancing commercial competition, enterprise profit, knowledge sharing, and public interest.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 507026 Economic geography
  • 502014 Innovation research

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