Juan Arias, Managing Partner of ABG Intellectual Property, was the European representative at the Panel Session “The Coronavirus Pandemic and Its Impact on Pharma Patent Prosecution Issues, Including Patent Prosecution Highways and Compulsory Licensing”, which was organised during the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI) World Congress. The approximately 9,000 experts from 125 countries who are members of the organisation were invited to attend this year’s event which, due to the circumstances, was held virtually over the course of 8 intensive days.
On Friday, 9 October, in addition to Juan Arias, the other speakers at the roundtable were representatives of the United States (Peter Ludwig, Senior Principal at Fish & Richardson P.C.), China (Gesheng Huang, Partner at Zhongzi Law Office), India (Archana Shanker Srivastava, Partner at Anand & Anand Advocates), Brazil (Leonor Magalhães Galvão of Mangellan IP), Canada (Anita Nador, Partner at Gowling WLG) and Argentina (Martín Bensadon of Marval, O Farrell & Mairal), thus allowing a comprehensive map of the prosecution of coronavirus-related pharmaceutical patents to be provided in the session.
Throughout the hour and a half duration of this session, each of the speakers provided information related to their jurisdiction’s situation with regards to issues when applying for COVID-19-related patents, the existence of accelerated programmes for prosecution, whether any patent related to the virus has been granted, and the possible positions of public institutions and private companies given the introduction of these inventions onto the market.
COVID-19 Patents in Europe
In this regard, Juan Arias stated that no COVID-19-related patents have been granted in Europe since, as he recalled, “prosecution with the European Patent Office (EPO) takes nearly two years when the accelerated procedure is requested”. He also indicated that to date very few patent applications have been published by this office, meaning that it is not possible to know the total number of COVID-19-related patent applications filed nor has any estimate been made.
The Managing Director of ABG Intellectual Property also mentioned the few limitations that European legislation has on the patentability of technology to fight the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the possibilities that compulsory licences are granted for patents related to COVID-19 in Europe and the possible rejection of further precautionary measures requested to act against alleged infringers of COVID-19-related patents.
Juan Arias was one of the three Spanish representatives who participated in this edition of the AIPPI World Congress. Moreover, the programme involved members of industrial and intellectual property offices, agents from different countries and regions, and experts from multinational corporations such as Novartis, Samsung, Audi, and Facebook.