2. Patent Challenges

We challenge applications for unmerited patents, to prevent patent abuse and overpricing.

Patents on medicines have been rising rapidly since 2005. The amount of patents granted far exceeds the number of genuine medical breakthroughs.

Many medicines are over-patented and overpriced. Gram for gram, a HIV medicine can cost more than gold.

The current patent system is open to abuse. A corporation can file a new patent application on an existing, and already patented drug, after making a small alteration. This is known as evergreening.

This means that the same drug can have numerous patents. This overlapping of intellectual property (IP) rights, or ‘patent thicketing’, prevents patents expiring after 20 years, blocks competition, and keeps prices high.

Examining patent applications is complex work. With a growing number of applications and public resources shrinking, patent offices are struggling. Serious concerns have been raised about the ability of examiners, even in the most well-resourced countries, to assess the quality of new patent applications adequately.

Companies know and exploit this situation. Applications are regularly submitted that do not meet patentability criteria.

What we do

We support the role of patent offices by:

  • Gathering legal and scientific evidence.
  • The evidence is used to oppose unmerited or unlawful patents before they can be granted.
    Before a patent is granted, any person can present evidence and arguments to the patent office to show that a particular application does not meet the lawful criteria.
  • Where this hasn’t been possible, oppositions can take place post-grant, requesting that a patent is revoked.

We have a track record of successfully opposing unmerited patents, and with it, creating significant savings for governments which can be used to treat more people.

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