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Life Science Patents 101

Life science industries are incredibly important.

This is true not only for developing and distributing medicines, treatments and other innovations to the public, but also for contributing to the overall economy. When a company develops a new treatment for an ailment affecting many people, for example, it has the potential to reap the economic benefits of having that product in the marketplace. Of course, these companies also invest an extraordinary amount of time, talent and money into the research and development of new treatment options that may never amount to anything marketable.

To help ensure the life sciences industry continues to be motivated to innovate and help people, effective products and services are able to be patented for a set period of time. This allows the company to be confident that they will be the sole institution to profit from their hard work for a period of years before other companies can step in and begin offering the same or similar products or services. Patent law in the life sciences is critical, but it can also be quite confusing. If you or your company has an innovative idea, product, or treatment, it is important to understand how the patent process works.

What Can Be Patented?

Many people and companies come up with ideas that they believe they can take to the market. One of the first questions that needs to be asked, however, is whether it can be patentable. It doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of time and money to bring something to market, only to have a competitor copy it and significantly reduce the innovator’s profit potential. In order to be patented, something must meet these criteria:

  • Useful – The item in question must be considered useful.
  • New – The product can’t just be a copy of something that is already publicly known with just a few minor or cosmetic changes.
  • Not Obvious – Products can’t be something that would be obvious to anyone skilled in the technology at issue.
  • Not Natural – A company can’t patent a specific chemical that is found in nature.

It is also important to note, especially for those in the life sciences industry, that something can’t be patented in order to protect it for research. For example, if a company believes that they have a compound that could be used to treat diseases, they can’t patent the compound in order to “protect” it while they conduct testing. They need to have a reasonable belief of what the exact compound is, what it will treat, and how the treatment should work altogether before the patent can be granted.

Get the Help You Need

Patent law in general is quite complex, and in the life sciences industry it can be even more confusing. Making a mistake when it comes to either filing a patent or disputing a patent held by someone else can be extremely costly. While this blog is a great place to obtain a basic understanding of what can be patented in this industry, it has barely scratched the surface. Contact Phil Crowley today to discuss your ideas and see how we can help. Having worked as an attorney in the life sciences field for 32 years before establishing his own law firm, he and his team have the valuable legal insights you need to succeed.



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