Thursday, March 19, 2015

IPO - Like a Rock

In the early 1990's when I visited the Indian Patent Office (IPO) for the first time, it was as gloomy and depressing as any other dysfunctional sarkari office. Over the years, it certainly seems to have changed for the better.

Now, at a time when, "advanced industrialised countries are ratcheting up global standards for intellectual property protection with monotonous regularity, keeping in view the interests of the dominant corporate interests" (Biswajit Dhar, FE), our patent office has been standing its ground.

Section 3(d) of Patents Act ensures that rights cannot be obtained for minor innovations, and this is being implemented quite effectively -

  • 2006 - India’s patent office refused to give Novartis AG a patent for Glivec (Imatinib), an extremely effective drug for a rare cancer - CML
  • 2012 - India’s Intellectual Property Appellate Board revoked a Roche Holding AG patent for a hepatitis C drug (Pegasys) saying technology involved in the drug’s invention was “obvious” and could be replicated easily.
  • January 2015 - India’s patent office rejected a patent application from the U.S. biotech firm Gilead Sciences Inc. for a Hepatitis C treatment (Sovaldi) , saying it lacked novelty and didn’t show significant efficacy over previously known compounds.
  • March, 2015 - IPO withdrew patent protection for an emphysema drug (Spiriva) marketed by Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, in response to an objection filed by Cipla.

What (or who) is the driving force behind this transformation of the Indian Patent Office?  What mechanisms do they have in place to ensure that Big Pharma do not get away with Evergreening? And, most importantly, what can the patent office do to improve our own abysmal record in encouraging innovations, and building innovative, world-class products?

Perhaps organisations like the Lawyers Collective had a strong role to play here.


* Key Medicines -  Patent Status in India --


* India Patent Office --

* (19Mar15) - WSJ - India's fight against Big Pharma is a Just War --

* Biswajit Dhar (2014): IPR policy must drive innovation --
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