A niche blog dedicated to the issues that arise when supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) extend patents beyond their normal life -- and to the respective positions of patent owners, investors, competitors and consumers. The blog also addresses wider issues that may be of interest or use to those involved in the extension of patent rights. You can email The SPC Blog here
Friday, 8 June 2012
The 2012 SPC blog seminar held at the end of May was the usual heady mixture of clarity and uncertainty, as the 85 attendees and 5 speakers reviewed a wide range of current and future issues across Europe and, unusually, the position on patent term extension overseas.
As Chairman I suggested that, in light of Medeva and the AG's opinion in Neurim, all outstanding issues in this field were now resolved and there was no need for the blog or any future seminar. But I could be wrong….
First, Dolores Cassidy from the Irish Patents Office gave her view on the fall out from Medeva. Whilst the issue around the meaning of the phrase "specified" or "identified " in the claim is still to be decided, Dolores pointed out that a Markush formula in the claims could cover a small or vast range of compounds, so even for this type of claim format the answer may be case specific. We'll see what the CJEU decides in due course…
Micaela Modiano from Modiano and Partners reviewed the development of SPC law in Italy, reflecting on the complications of the "old" Italian SPCs and the laws that govern when generic companies may apply for marketing approval. I was personally relieved only to have to advise on the issues under UK law after hearing the saga unfold.
Hugh Goodfellow from Carpmaels and Ransford, reprising his role from last year, discussed the ramifications of the AG's opinion in Neurim. In response to some detailed questions, Hugh pointed out that the EPO and national patent offices, as gatekeepers for granting patents, play a key role in ensuring that obvious developments could not be the subject of life cycle management SPC strategies.
Jean-Frederick Gaultier from Clifford Chance (although now recently moved to Olswang LLP) explained the references to SPC protection in the proposal for the centralized European patent court. Issues remain: it appears that SPCs granted on national patents will be handled by national courts and SPCs granted on European and community patents will be handled by the proposed community court. How will that work in reality?
Finally, the inaugural patent term extension quiz was unveiled. I am aware of at least one score of 9 out 10 (multiple choice), but the real win was the access to materials on PTE from multiple countries, for which this blog expresses thanks to all who helped us: Griffith Hack (Australia), Gorodissky (Russia); Luzzatto and Luzzatto (Israel); Kim and Chang (S. Korea); Saint Island Patent and Law (Taiwan); LeClair Ryan (US); Cantab IP (Singapore); Shiga International (Japan). This blog may try, over time and where possible, to compare the various PTE provisions across the world to see how the European SPC matches up!
Please click here for the slides, below for links to the videos of the day and here for some supporting materials from outside the EU on patent term extension.