Biotech patent law is a field that is growing rapidly. As advancements in pharmaceuticals, genetic engineering, and even farming continue, companies are under greater pressure to defend the investments they've made in research. If you're curious about biotech patents, it's a good idea to learn a bit about the current landscape and its legal implications.
Competition Is Fierce
The average business in the biotech sector invests between 40 and 50 percent of its revenues in research. Novelty of the sort that can withstand the scrutiny of the USPTO is hard to come by and breakthroughs have to be fiercely protected against encroachment.
Patents in the biotech sector have especially limited shelf lives, too. The time demands of clinical research mean that a patent and the attached research value aren't making money until close to the end of the patent's life. A company may only have a few years to recoup its investment during the period before the patent expires. Rolling out research and patenting the product takes planning, secrecy, and a strong legal team to maximize the returns on the investment.
The Idea Is Frequently the Product
Many companies that perform this sort of research are increasingly centered on selling licensing agreements as a business model. If the license agreement is the product, then the patent is the material it's made from. Without the patent, the company has nothing it can clearly tell a potential customer to pay for. Worse, a patent that can be torpedoed in court could cause a crash in the company's stock price when litigation turns sour.
Specificity, Novelty, and Utility
Isolating the "what" of a biotech patent is essential. To a research-focused company, this probably seems simple. To a biotech patent law attorney, though, it means that for the specific patented item, its novelty and its utility must be explainable to a judge and potentially a jury.
For example, a DNA sequence may be patentable in the U.S. if it is synthetic. This means a firm patenting a sequence must prove the sequence is novel and doesn't exist in nature. It must also demonstrate the sequence can be isolated using a specific technique, and it must show a useful purpose.
The simple reality is that it's a good time to run a biotech patent law firm. Enforcement actions are the key to making patent claims stick, and that means being prepared to pursue legal action at a scale that discourages bad actors.