Analysis Reveals Companies With Strongest Patents Related to COVID-19 Vaccines

Johnson & Johnson ranks #1 in patent strength for antivirals for the coronavirus family and CureVac ranks #1 in patent strength for RNA-based vaccines.

New York — Januray 31st, 2021. — PatentSight, a LexisNexis® Legal & Professional company, today announced the findings of an analysis of COVID-19 vaccine-related patents held by pharmaceutical and biotech companies worldwide. The analysis revealed that the top three companies with the strongest patent portfolios for coronavirus antivirals are Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, and Gilead Sciences. The top three companies with the strongest patent portfolios for RNA-based vaccines are CureVac, Gilead Sciences, and Moderna.

Patent strength in these two categories provides valuable insights into which companies are likely to be next to deliver safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. RNA technology is being used to streamline the development of many of the vaccines currently approved for use or in Phase 3 trials in various countries around the world. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the first two vaccines approved for emergency use in the United States, are RNA based. In contrast, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is adenovirus based. This is a more complex approach than RNA technology that has slowed down development, but one that produces a more stable vaccine. Johnson & Johnson is expected to apply for FDA approval for its vaccine as soon as the week of February 1st.

A previous analysis of worldwide coronavirus patents owned by pharmaceutical and biotech companies conducted in 2019—before the pandemic hit and before anyone had even heard of COVID-19—showed that Moderna, a relatively small and at the time not-very-well-known company was likely to be among the first to develop a vaccine. The analysis also revealed that, based on the strength of the patents owned by pharma giant Pfizer and a little-known German biotech company, BioNTech, the partnership that was formed by the two companies in the early stages of the pandemic was likely to be among the first to bring a vaccine to market.

The two patent analyses were conducted by PatentSight using the company’s Patent Asset Index™, a measure of patent strength based on the number of patents owned by a company and the relative competitive impact of the patents. Competitive impact is determined by evaluating the technology relevance and market coverage of patent portfolios.

 In the current analysis, the top 20 companies ranked by patent portfolio strength for each approach are shown in the charts below:


PatentSight’s Patent Asset Index – the industry standard

Since 2009, leading technology companies have been using PatentSight’s Patent Asset Index™ as an indicator of innovative strength and long-term competitiveness. In 2009, Dow Chemical’s CTO recognized “The Patent Asset Index provides an accurate view of the impact and efficiency of an enterprise’s investment in innovation“. BASF’s recent annual report highlights “For the eighth time in succession, we headed the rankings in the Patent Asset Index in 2016” .

Today, seven of the top ten global chemical companies and many technology leaders from other industries use PatentSight. When asked how to rate the quality of patents, Beat Weibel, Head of Intellectual Property at Siemens, explained: “That’s the job of independent companies such as PatentSight. They can rate an entire portfolio on the basis of fixed criteria such as technological relevance, geographic market coverage, and frequency of citations.

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