Global Pharmaceutical Sector Sees Surge In 2020 Trademark Applications

Lisa Wright & Elena Gorbatenko,

As of mid July 2020 an estimated 13.1 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January and a pandemic on 11 March this year. 

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the pharmaceutical and medical device industry has been significant. The high R0 value (measure of contagiousness) of the virus has the medical industry battling hard to keep up with an unprecedented demand for its goods and services. The Pharma sector is busy developing and manufacturing additional ventilators, ventilator accessories and other respiratory devices, antibody and virus test kits, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE), while searching for successful treatments and the holy grail - a vaccine to protect against COVID-19. 

The tech sector (with buy-in from the general public) is also playing their part in the fight against COVID-19 this year. In Ireland a new COVID tracker app launched on 7 July. It has been downloaded by over 1 million users already - arguably making it the most successful app of its kind anywhere in the world today! The app traces and tracks its users who input any symptoms on a daily basis and acts as an early warning system, helping to improve rapid response times to clusters and curtailing spread.

AI and the race for a vaccine

Huge quantities of hygiene masks, medical gowns and gloves are being rolled out to safeguard, not just healthcare workers who are battling on the frontline against the virus, but also now many workers operating in “client-facing” roles - such the hospitality sector - while the world waits for a vaccine. Many well-known pharmaceutical companies are now using AI technology to boost operational efficiency and deliver scientific insights across research and development, production, as well as commercial operations. Other pharma companies, including Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, BioNTech and Pfizer, Sanofi, Danaher, GlaxoSmithKline and Roche are working hard and often collaborating with each other or other enterprises and/or with third level research institutions and governments in the race for a vaccine. 

While there is, as of yet, no specific treatment or vaccine for the virus, many of the symptoms can be treated effectively and alleviated. As a result, hospitals, treating Covid patients, have a need for more medical devices, such as ventilators and respirators, while drug stores are seeing a surge in demand of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals such as analgesics/antipyretics, cough suppressants/expectorants and decongestants, which are being utilized to treat mild symptoms.  

Rapid rise in Nice Class 5 and 10 applications in the USPTO and EUIPO 

Given this surge in the global demand for pharma-related goods, it is therefore unsurprising that during the 2020 pandemic we have experienced a rapid increase in pharma-related Nice Class trademark applications in the USPTO and EUIPO to date. 

The growth rate for both Nice Class 5 (Pharmaceuticals and Medical Supplies) and especially Nice Class 10 (Medical Devices) - the top 2 growth classes in the USPTO and EUIPO, in the first half of 2020 - has been unusually high. Our data reveals a significant increase in trademark filings this year in the USPTO and EUIPO from January to June when compared to the same period in 2019.

Nice Class 

USPTO

EUIPO

Nice Class 5 (Pharmaceuticals and Medical Supplies)

+6.2%

+12.3%

Nice Class 10 (Medical Devices)

+40.4%

+67.4%

Trademark application growth rate January-June 2020 (when compared to same period in 2019)

Nice Class 5 (pharmaceuticals and medical supplies)

USPTO

Our data reveals that 15 thousand trademark applications were filed between January and June in 2020. Trademark growth only started in March - before that month (at the very beginning of the year) volumes were actually lower than 2019 numbers. And, we see that most applications were filed in the USPTO in April 2020, displaying a growth rate of +19.0% when compared to the same month during 2019. 

EUIPO

From January until June 2020, 8 thousand trademark applications were filed in the EUIPO in Nice Class 5. Numbers grew from the very beginning of the year and rapid growth was experienced during the month of March. The majority of applications were filed in May 2020, displaying a growth rate of +36.8% when compared to the volume of filings in May 2019. 

Nice Class 10 (medical devices)

USPTO

The USPTO saw some 8 thousand trademark applications filed in Nice Class 10 from January to June this year. Yet this growth only began in February. Before that month, the New Year saw lower numbers than those of 2019. The majority of applications were filed in April 2020, denoting a growth rate of +81.0% when compared to the volume filed in 2019 in the same month. 

EUIPO

We see that 5 thousand trademark applications were filed in the EUIPO from January to June 2020 in Nice Class 10. The trademark volumes only started to grow in February, with most applications filed in April 2020, revealing a massive growth rate of +138.1% when compared to the same period in 2019. 

Cross-enterprise collaboration for pharma devices

Global leaders, like President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have called on the automotive, aerospace and other industries to help fill unprecedented demand for some medical devices. Many have answered their call. Ford has asked its engineers, researchers and suppliers to help. They are busy designing and manufacturing masks, respirators, ventilators and other critical medical equipment and supplies for healthcare workers, first responders and patients fighting Covid-19

GE and Tesla have also stepped up and are utilizing ventilation, heating and air conditioning factories to produce respirators in the United States. While in the United Kingdom, the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium aims to produce 10 thousand devices for the UK. The consortium is working around the clock and features manufacturers as diverse as Formula 1 teams and Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Accenture, Siemens, Dell Technologies and Unilever who are all working to accelerate production of ventilators by modifying current designs used by medical device manufacturers Smiths Group and Penlon. And, James Dyson, the billionaire engineer and inventor of the iconic bagless vacuum cleaners and hygienic touchless hand dryers, also rose to the challenge and designed a completely new ventilator in just 10 days!

All of these Herculean efforts by pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers and a myriad of enterprises and entrepreneurs can surely only result in even more global trademark activity in pharma-related classes over the next 6 months of 2020! 

A spotlight on trademarks and vaccines    

If you would like to learn more and get business intelligence on who the major players are today in the pharmaceutical sector when it comes to vaccine trademarks filed in Nice Class 5, then register now for our new report on trademarks and vaccines! 

You will get early access to our new trademark report and a truly unique insight into Class 5’s top products and registries - as well as a comprehensive look at the “who’s who” of vaccine trademarks today. You will see an overview and analysis of:

  • Nice Class 5 today
  • COVID-19 trademarks
  • Vaccines and trademarks
  • Top owners and their portfolio growth over time

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