Pharmaceutical patents
Pharmaceutical patents

The following Life Sciences practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Pharmaceutical patents
  • Subject matter of pharmaceutical patents
  • Compound protection
  • Selection inventions
  • Enantiomers
  • Salts
  • Polymorphs
  • Process patent protection and methods of treatment
  • 'Field of use' claims
  • Formulation claims
  • More...

Pharmaceutical patents (pharma patents) are a very specific part of the IP canon. They are primarily concerned with chemical compounds that are useful in the treatment of disease, the uses of those compounds in treating diseases, formulating the compounds as medications, and processes for making the compounds.

This Practice Note discusses the subject matter of pharmaceutical patents, and the effect of regulations associated with the approval of new drugs.

Despite Brexit, the UK remains part of the European patent system because the European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Patent Convention (EPC) (the international treaty which establishes the procedure for the granting of European patents by the EPO) are both independent of the EU. The UK has simply become another non-EU country which is a contracting state to the EPC, joining Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. The EPO Boards of Appeal are the first and final judicial instance in procedures before the EPO. The Boards of Appeal include the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) and 28 Technical Boards of Appeal (TBA). The TBAs and EBA have established a body of substantive patent law which UK courts can continue to recognise as persuasive precedents. Consequently, references to the EPC and TBA and EBA decisions below remain relevant.

Subject matter of pharmaceutical patents

A patentee may obtain several separate compound patents in relation to a particular new drug.

Compound protection

Protection is available

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