MII Site Miners Briefed on New Patent Law Rulings

At a recent TEDCO MII Site Miner meeting, Michele Wales, principal at InHouse Patent Counsel, discussed guidance recently issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The implications of this could potentially have a significant impact on innovation. Click here for an overview of the topic, a link to more details and the deadline for the written comment period.

The PTO recently issued a guidance document that extends the recent Supreme Court decision which  disallows patents on any product that can be traced to nature. This approach is in sharp contrast with what was patentable in the U.S. for the last 30 years, and is inconsistent with the rest of the world. For example, if a new product – such as a new gene isolated from a bacteria, a new chemical isolated from a plant found in a rainforest, a new mineral which conducts energy, or any combination of “natural products” that can be used for any purpose – those products will no longer be patentable under the USPTO’s new guidelines.

Of the 1,355 drugs approved by the FDA between 1981 and 2010, these guidelines would invalidate patent protection for 47 percent of all approved drugs, 50 percent of all small molecule drugs, 75 percent of all antibacterial drugs, and almost 80 percent of small molecule anticancer drugs. Thus, these guidelines have the potential to completely alter the US patent system, inhibiting companies from raising money and protecting their innovation. The USPTO is asking for written comments on the proposed guidelines by June 30, 2014.