Race against the virus: covid-19 clinical trial pharmaceutical patents in Taiwan

The outbreak of covid-19 is changing the world dramatically and affecting every aspect of the global community. As a result, researchers and pharmaceutical companies are racing to develop drugs to combat the pandemic.

On 18 March 2020 director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Brent Christensen and Taiwan’s foreign minister – Joseph Wu – released a US-Taiwan joint statement, declaring:

“To further strengthen US-Taiwan consultation and cooperation on combatting the COVID-19 virus, which originated in Wuhan, both sides will seek to share best practices and cooperate on a range of activities under a partnership that includes:
• Research and development of rapid tests;
• Research and production of vaccines

• Research and production of medicines
• Contact tracing techniques and technology
• Joint conferences with scientists and experts, and
• Cooperation and exchanges of medical supplies and equipment.”

However, the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) had made moves even earlier. Six days before this statement, TIPO published a list of Taiwanese patents for the clinical trial of covid-19 drugs, which is available to the public to view. According to the United States’ ‘clinicaltrials.gov’ database and the information provided by TIPO, covid-19 drug patents can be divided into three categories:

Category 1 (yellow):

There is no patent protection in Taiwan now. Most of the drugs are products that have been on the market for years. Some are patented in foreign countries, but not in Taiwan.

Category 2 (blue):

The active ingredient (compound, antibody molecule) is not patented in Taiwan now. However, there are other related patents such as a substance or composition or formulation, or for pharmaceutical use or method of production.

Category 3 (pink):

Active ingredient patented in Taiwan.

Table 1. Small molecule drugs – Taiwanese patent information 


Table 2. Protein drugs – Taiwanese patent information

According to Taiwanese patent laws, carrying out necessary acts to exploit inventions for research or experimental purposes does not constitute patent infringement. Further, details of Taiwanese patents can be found on TIPO’s patent database.

Last but not least, if a patent or trademark applicant fails to comply with a statutory time period due to the covid-19 outbreak, the applicant may file a request for reinstatement along with the relevant evidence. TIPO has stated that applications will be reviewed leniently on a case-by-case basis.

This is an Insight article, written by a selected partner as part of IAM's co-published content. Read more on Insight

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