Patent office proposing to appeal decision to limit biotech patent applications

4/11/2008

SAN FRANCISCO The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is debating on whether to appeal a U.S district court in Virginia, which ruled on April 1 to allow the biotechnology industry to submit patent applications an unlimited number of times, according to published reports.

The biotechnology industry, especially pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, feels that if the government regulates how many times they can submit a patent application, it would prevent the industry from protecting new inventions in the field, according to published reports.

If the USPTO where to appeal the initial rules, it would allow biopharmaceutical companies only two chances to resubmit its patent application after the first time, and they would have to limit applications to 25 claims, which would include the items named in a patent that define the disease the drug is claimed to treat. The problem is that biotech companies would have to wait until the clinical trials are finished to submit that patent, which would allow for competitors to beat them in the process.

According to published reports, USPTO argues that the new rules will help regulate the patent process, and will have companies thoroughly investigate a drug before filing for a license. The changes, according to published reports, would also help limit paperwork and would allow other patents to be explored rather than delayed. According to USPTO, of the 467,000 applications they received in 2007 30 percent were continuations while 760,000 have remained unseen and are waiting to be reviewed.

Even though there has been extreme debate, if a patent-reform bill that was proposed in 2007 passes, USPTO would have more control over regulations making their case the probable result.

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