Friday, March 20, 2015

TPP Revisited

Recently, new reports have come out listing some of the unresolved IP issues remaining in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.  The issues leaked all have to do with the regulation of pharmaceuticals.  My belief is that this reflects the desires of the leaker and does not comprehensively represent the outstanding issues. 

Below is a brief summary of the issues that have been reported:

Patent Linkage and Patent Extensions:  The problem here is relatively simple:  regulatory approval for medical devices takes time that cuts into the effective marketing life of a newly patented invention.  In the US, it can take a company 10 years to get a phase III approval and up to an additional 12 months after that for final FDA approve a drug for prescription use.  Other countries can take longer.  From the perspective of the patent owner, this means that half of the 20 year life of a patent is lost due to the regulatory processes.  Under US law, the USPTO can extend the term of a patent to compensate the patent holder for this lost time.  While the US and Japan have been pushing for this in the TPP, there has been resistance.

Patents for New Uses:  I am assuming this is a medical issue also.  In many patent regimes, including the US, you can only patent a chemical compound once.  Specifically, a previously known, or previously patented, chemical compound does not become patentable because of a newly discovered property.  My understanding is that this is fairly common across patent regimes, however, even in the US law there is a fair amount of grey area.  For example, assume that a medication has always been taken orally.  If an application was filed that made this medication injectable, the patent office would reject the application as unpatentable.  However, if the applicant could demonstrate an unknown and unexpected benefit from injecting the medicine into a patient, then a patent that was strictly for the method of injecting the medication might be approved.  This type of issue is very situation specific and how the USPTO would proceed would depend heavily on the specific facts of the application. 

Data Exclusivity:  These are issues regarding how regulatory agencies protect and use the proprietary information of companies seeking regulatory approvals. 

Standard for IP Protection:  It has been reported that TPP negotiators have been working on allowing certain countries to maintain a lower standard for IP protections with a transition period that will allow those countries to migrate to a higher standard of IP protections.  It has been known for some time that negotiating the details of this transition has been challenging. 

Below is a summary of selected patents that have been recently issued in textile related classification codes:

Method for the production of leather, copolymers that are suitable therefor, and further uses thereof:  A combination of functionally modified carboxylic acids and alcohols for use in the leather tanning process.  The advantage of this method is that the tanning chemicals do not prematurely react with alkoxylated alcohols in the leather or affect the fat distribution within the leather.  This creates more even dyeing through the leather.  Patent:  8771374.  Inventors:  Brym,  Assignee:  BASF Se.

Azo compound and salt thereof, and dye-containing polarizing film comprising the compound or salt:  An azo dye compound specifically designed for use as dyes on polarizing plates.  The advantage of this composition is improved polarizing performance under high temperature and humidity conditions.  Patent 8771378.  Inventors:  Sadamitsu,  Assignee:  Nippon Kayaku Kabushiki Kaisha and Polatechno Co., Ltd. 

Ballistic vest carrier cover system:  A ballistic vest carrier cover has a mantle that goes over the wearer's shoulders from the front waist to the rear waist. The cover fits over a shirt so the combination appears as a standard uniform shirt. The liner attaches to the outer layer at the front and rear waist, neck, and along the sides from front armor openings to rear armor openings, producing front and rear pockets for receiving the body armor panel carriers. The panel carriers are attached using supplied straps at the waist through the armor openings and at the shoulders through tunnels between the front and rear pockets. A stretch panel extends from the cover at the rear armor opening, over the waist strap, and fastens to the cover at the front armor.  Patent:  8776262.  Inventors:  Blauer and Lee.  Assignee:  Blauer Manufacturing Company, Inc.

Hunting garment and safety harness system:  A hunting garment system including a safety harness which restrains a hunter while perched on a tree stand, an outer member, and an inner member. Both the inner member and the outer member include detachable sleeves and a detachable hood allowing the hunter to select a particular weather-conforming configuration. The safety harness is designed to be safely anchored onto a tree and is worn alone, beneath the outer member, beneath the inner member, beneath an outer vest, beneath an inner vest, or in combination with an assembly of the outer member over the inner member.  Patent:  8776266.  Inventor:  Metz.  Not Assigned.

Sewn glove and manufacturing method thereofA glove sewing method that makes moving the fingers of the gloves easier.  Patent:  8776269.   Inventors:  Matsukoa.  Matsukoa Glove Co, Ltd.

Windproof waterproof breathable seamed articles:  The present invention provides waterproof, breathable non-textile seamed articles which exhibit high levels of durability and allow wearers a high level of flexibility and article strength. This invention is of particular interest for use in dexterous hand coverings and conformable foot coverings.  Patent 8776270.  Inventors: Williams and Klein.  Assignee:  WL Gore and Associates, Inc.

Finally, I would like to end this week with a shameless plug:  RB Consulting Inc has just launched a website that I would like to invite you to visit.  My prior blog posts are available on the site. 

Jim Carson is a principal of RB Consulting, Inc and a registered patent agent.  He has over 30 years of experience across multiple industries including the biotechnology, textile, computer, telecommunications, and energy sectors.  RB Consulting, Inc specializes in providing management, prototyping, and regulatory services to small and start-up businesses.  He can be reached via email at  or by phone at (803) 792-2183.

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