Korea has registered 40 patents of Covid-19 diagnostic technologies since the Armed Forces Medical Command filed the first one in February, the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) said.
The number recorded a rapid increase, compared to 19 patents registered during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 or 32 patents during the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in 2015.
KIPO attributed the rapid rise of patent applications to a set of factors, such as the spiking global demand for Covid-19 testing, greater trust in Korea’s disease control, the regulator’s swift approval for testing kits, and aggressive government support for international standardization of testing methods.
Covid-19 diagnostic technologies registered with the KIPO are divided into two categories – molecular diagnosis method (22) and immunoassay test (18).
Molecular diagnosis amplifies and detects the gene of the Covid-19 virus. It includes a conventional real-time RT-PCR test, real-time isothermal amplification method, biomarker test, and recently being commercialized CRISPR diagnostics.
An immunoassay test detects the virus by identifying the antigen or an antibody within the body. It can produce the testing result within 30 minutes. Still, its accuracy may be lower than that of a molecular diagnostic method.
Out of the 40 patents, 17 were filed by companies, 12 by universities, six by government agencies, and five by individuals.
About 10 of them were supported by national research and development programs.
The first patent registered by the Armed Forces Medical Command was licensed out to many companies. Two other patents, registered later by a national university, were also transferred to a private company.
Won Jong-hyuk, director of the Bio-Healthcare Review Division at KIPO, said that a patent on a testing technologies to detect multiple respiratory infection viruses was expected to win registration.
“Aside from prompt and accurate reviews of patent applications, we will provide industrial/patent trends in diagnostic technologies for major infectious diseases to actively support technology development for Korea’s disease control and prevention,” he said.
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