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 1 October 2010

Even more about HPV vaccines and SPCs

Just in case you're not immune to issues around SPCs for HPV vaccines, here's the latest juicy case (BL O/335/10) that was decided before the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO):

The University of Queensland and CSL Limited filed 8 SPC applications at the IPO: 6 different applications to single Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) L1 protein virus-like particles (VLPs) (2 applications for HPV 16, 2 applications for HPV 18, 1 application for HPV11 and 1 application for HPV6), 1 application for a product comprising HPV16 and HPV18 L1 protein LPV, and 1 application for a product comprising HPV6, HPV11, HPV16 and HPV18 L1 protein LPVs. The applications were based on basic patents EP 0595935, EP 1298211 and EP 1359156. The marketing authorisations for Cervarix and Gardasil/Silgard were used to support the applications.

The issues raised here are similar to those in the Medeva and Georgetown et al. cases and concern the interpretation of Articles 3(a) and 3(b) of the Regulation. The IPO therefore proposed to defer further consideration of the applications until the outcome of the references to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in relation to the Medeva and Georgetown cases. The applicant however requested a decision to be issued based on the papers on file so that, if the IPO were to refuse the applications, the decision could be appealed and a further referral to the CJEU could be made and considered at the same time as the other HPV-related cases.

The hearing officer, Dr. L. Cullen, found that the 6 SPC applications directed to single HPV L1 protein VLPs did not meet the requirement of Article 3(b) of the Regulation because neither of the MAs cited was a valid authorisation to place any of the single HPV L1 protein VLP products on the market as a medicinal product. Each MA related to a combination of active ingredients rather than a single active ingredient.

Moreover, the HPV combination applications did not meet the requirement of Article 3(a) of the Regulation because the basic patents did not protect combination HPV L1 protein VLP products, but only related a method for preparing single HPV L1 protein VLPs, HPV L1 protein VLPs made by this method and vaccines prepared from HPV L1 protein VLPs made by this method. Nothing in the patents suggested that the single HPV products could be used in combination with each other.

The applications were rejected in accordance with Article 10(4) after the application was provided with an opportunity to correct the irregularities of the application.

The complete decision is available here.

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