COVID-19 Will Spawn a Slew of New Patent Filings


Currently, we are inundated with information about COVID-19, which is short for coronavirus disease 2019. Coronaviruses are relatively large spherical viruses having projections extending from their outer surface. Once attached to a host cell, the host cell cleaves, allowing the genetic material of the virus to enter the host cell. Once inside, the genetic material enters the host cell’s cytoplasm and uses the host cell’s machinery to create “progeny” viruses. The “progeny” viruses are thereafter released by the host cell, often destroying the host cell in the process. Coronaviruses infect not only humans, but other animals as well. For example, cows and pigs are both susceptible to certain types of coronaviruses as are birds. As such, protecting both humans and animals from coronaviruses has been an active endeavor for at least the last fifty years.

Finding cures and vaccines for diseases, for example, diseases caused by coronaviruses, is a difficult, time consuming, and expensive task. To protect their investments, organizations typically exploit patent law. A patent grants inventors a twenty year monopoly on their invention. For example, in 2019, US Patent No. 10,434,116 was issued to the University of Maryland, Baltimore, for a new method of treating a coronavirus infection in humans where the treatment included the step of administering a kinase signaling inhibitor to a subject infected with a coronavirus. In 2018, US Patent No. 10,130,701 was issued to The Pirbright Institute for a live, attenuated coronavirus usable as a vaccine for controlling avian infection bronchitis virus (IBV). In fact, companies have been exploiting patent law to protect coronavirus related technology since at least the mid-1980s, when a patent directed to treating a canine coronavirus was issued.

COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus discovered in Wuhan, China in 2019 and is particularly devastating to humans and is projected to cause tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of death. With the onset of COVID-19, there is little doubt that a flood of patent applications have been, and will be, filed for treatments associated with COVID-19. Patent rights to such treatments could provide a relatively high income stream for those holding the valuable patent rights. These rights help a company recover the millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars spent finding a successful treatment. Without having these rights in place, companies may be hesitant to pour such vast sums of money into a project knowing a competitor could simply knock off and sell a copy of their invention.

Patent rights, of course, are not limited to the biotech space. In fact, patent rights are routinely utilized across various industries from the toy industry to industries that manufacture and use sophisticated electronic components. If you are a solo inventor or a company that has invented a novel machine, method, or manufacture and you believe your invention has the potential to be commercially successful, you will want to consult with a patent attorney to see if a patent works well with your business plan.  At BrownWinick we have patent attorneys well versed in the mechanical, electrical, chemical, and biotech arts and each is well suited to answer any patent questions you may have.  In addition to technical expertise, BrownWinick has business attorneys who can help with buying, selling, or licensing your technology. As such, we strongly recommend you talk to a patent attorney at BrownWinick to see how we can help you leverage your intellectual property to your benefit.