It is often said that times of crisis facilitate and accelerate innovation. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented urgent challenges on a global scale, ranging from the preservation of economic activity, to preventing the spread of novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and saving lives. Perhaps recognising this, the EPO has recently launched a platform, 'Fighting Coronavirus', to facilitate knowledge transfer from published patent applications to those involved in the development of technologies to counter COVID-19.
As we know, patent applications often provide a wealth of information, which can guide innovators in solving problems and devising new inventions. However, it can be difficult to navigate the sheer volume of information in the patent system. Instead, innovators might tend to favour peer-reviewed journals as their primary source of information, meaning the information published in patent applications is largely ignored and underused.
The 'Fighting Coronavirus' platform provides extremely useful pre-configured searches, which will direct the user to patents or patent applications describing relevant technologies. These pre-configured searches represent a quick and effective means of reviewing existing patent literature in a subject area, and avoids the need to use classification codes normally used to categorise applications. Some of the pre-configured searches include:
Vaccines and Therapeutics
- Vaccines against coronaviruses, including viral vectors, nucleic acid-based vaccines, antigen-presenting cells, and administration of vaccines.
- Drug candidates (small-molecules, peptides) which may be effective against COVID-19 both as antivirals, and in the relief of COVID-19 symptoms.
- Nucleic acid based treatments and therapies targeting coronaviruses (e.g. nucleic acid inhibitors, antisense oligonucleotides, interfering RNA, aptamers)
- Antibodies as therapies against coronavirus.
Diagnostics & Analytics
- Methods and assays for detecting viruses in patients and the environment
- Devices for analysing virus samples in vitro
- Imaging of viruses and related disease states in vitro and in vivo
- Devices for clinical diagnosis and treatment (e.g. oximeters)
- Analysis of data pertaining to viral properties (e.g. mutations, infection pathways).
- Healthcare detection, management, treatment and protection from coronavirus.
The platform also provides useful data analysis and information tools. An indication of the top applicants and top inventors for coronavirus related applications in particular subject areas is provided, along with an indication of the most prolific countries for coronavirus related patent filings within Europe and worldwide. These data provide interesting insights into the intensity of the research being carried out globally.
In our view, the 'Fighting Coronavirus' platform is a valuable reservoir of information, that is ripe for mining by those involved in overcoming the challenges presented by COVID-19.
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