This is a quick notice that, on 17 November 2015, the Supreme Court rendered a decision rejecting the JPO's appeal against Intellectual Property High Court (IPHC) Grand Panel decision issued in May 2014. As a general principle, the Supreme Court decision can be outlined thuss:
In order to reject an application for a patent term extension (PTE) based on a prior authorization, in view of category and subject of patented invention(s) for which the application is submitted, a prior authorization and a new authorization shall be compared in terms of elements examined for authorization, such elements being relevant to substantial identity as a pharmaceutical product, and it must be established that the prior authorization encompasses the new authorization in terms of an authorization for production and sales of a pharmaceutical product.The decision applied the above principle to the present facts as follows:
In the context of product patents directed to ingredients of pharmaceutical products, "elements examined for authorization relevant to substantial identicalness as a pharmaceutical product" are components, quantity, administration, dosage amount, effect and efficacy. Administration and dosage amount of the previously authorized pharmaceutical product are
"... intravenous drip infusion of 5mg/kg (body weight) per dose or 10mg/kg (body weight) per dose ... administration interval is 2-week or longer ...",
while those of the newly authorized pharmaceutical product are
"... intravenous drip infusion of 7.5mg/kg (body weight) per dose ... administration interval is 3-week or longer ...".
Further, production and sales of the subject pharmaceutical product for a combination therapy of XELOX therapy and bevacizumab therapy newly became available by such new authorization. Based on the facts described above, it is not established that the prior authorization encompasses the new authorization in terms of an authorization for production and sales of a pharmaceutical product. Therefore, the decision of appeal board of the JPO is not legitimate, and the IPHC Grand Panel decision is approved.As can be seen from the above, it seems that the Supreme Court accepted almost the whole framework of the IPHC Grand Panel decision establishing that a PTE may be allowed based on any substantially new authorization, so long as the subject patent covers the newly authorized pharmaceutical product.
Upon the Supreme Court decision, the JPO announced on 18 November 2015 that the JPO starts revising its PTE examination guidelines and stops examinations for PTEs until a publication of the revised guidelines. It is expected that under the revised guidelines, applications for PTE shall be more easily allowed. Further, while the Supreme Court decision is silent, as IPHC Grand Panel decision mentioned in obiter dictum, scope of an extended patent may become narrower than previously expected. It is therefore recommended that, whenever a new pharmaceutical product is authorized in Japan, an application for a PTE shall be considered for any patent covering the new pharmaceutical product
In this respect it should be noted that, when a patentee wishes to obtain a PTE, if an authorization is not delivered by 6 months and one day before the expiration date of a subject patent, a provisional application must be submitted by that day, i.e. 6 months and one day before the expiration date (Patent Act Article 67-2-2, paragraph 1), otherwise a non-provisional application must be submitted within three months from the delivery of an authorization (Patent Act Article 67-2, paragraph 2 and Implementing Regulation of Patent Act Article 3).
Further, in our previous post, it was mentioned that
"If the patentee may wish to obtain a PTE corresponding to a dependent claim in the future, it is recommended to file a divisional application to establish a patent specifically directed to the invention of the dependent claim, describing the invention as an independent claim".
Under the new examination guidelines, PTE may become available without filing such divisional applications.