Patents: GSK goes to court over restrictions

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The Independent Online

GlaxoSmithKline, Europe's biggest drug maker, is taking the US patent office to court, claiming that new restrictions on patent applications will wipe many millions of dollars from the value of its intellectual property.

In an attempt to deal with a backlog of applications and prevent manipulation of the process, the patent office is planning to restrict the number of claims that each application can make about an invention, and limit the number of times that the patent can be amended.

But GSK is asking a US court to issue an injunction before the rules go into effect on 1 November, and then to throw them out entirely. The rules, it says in a court filing, are "vague, arbitrary and capricious, and prevent GSK from fully prosecuting patent applications and obtaining patents on one or more of its inventions".

Patent lawyers say that drug companies are among those hardest hit by the changes, since it often takes them more than a decade to develop and launch a new drug, during which time they repeatedly change and extend the scope of the original patent.