Patents are particularly important in the life sciences sector, especially for new medicines. During the early years of developing and testing new medicines, patents are one of the few assets that a company has.

Patents can therefore be a vital way to demonstrate credibility, to raise commercial interest and revenue, as tools to negotiate with collaborators or competitors, as well as to secure market position.

A wide variety of patents are available in the life sciences sector:

Medicines and new uses of them, and biosimilars and biobetters, can be patented in the same way as any other new chemical. Patents may also be obtained for new formulations and therapeutic regimens, as well as for processes for making new medicines.

Biological products such as genes, proteins including antibodies, stem cells and transgenic organisms can also be patented in most countries. In general, the same patentability criteria apply to these products as other chemical products.

Medical devices, methods of diagnosis and medical imaging are other areas which can be protected by patents.

There are, however, a number of exclusions from patentability in the life sciences sector in many countries (including ethical considerations); it is also particularly important for life sciences patents to be supported by an appropriate amount of data. It is therefore vital to seek professional advice for any specific matter.

Chemical and biotech products

Medicines can be patented in the same way as any chemical product, that is, by reference to the chemical name or structural formula. As with all inventions, it is also important to capture variants and modifications of the new medicine in order to ensure that competitors cannot easily get around the patent.

Chemical and biotech products

Patenting biotech methods

In addition to granting patents on products such as drugs, DNA and antibodies, the Patent Offices will also grant patents to methods of doing things and processes for making things. The claims of these patents will reflect the steps which are to be taken in the invention’s method or process.

Patenting biotech methods

Maximising protection for pharmaceutical products

Although the maximum life of a patent is usually 20 years, there are a number of actions that companies can take in order to extend the patent protection for their new drugs − whether the drugs are standard chemical entities or biologics. These actions include filing new patent applications which claim additional uses for the drugs or new formulations for the drugs. Of course, it is not only the original developer of such drugs that can file such patent applications.

Maximising protection for pharmaceutical products

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