Explaining the role of Industrial Property in the return on investment in clinical research at Vitafoods Digital Days

This post is also available in: Spanish Catalan

The demand for nutraceutical products which contribute to human health and well-being only continues to grow. There is an enormous industry behind it which invests to gain maximum profit from natural active ingredients that exhibit benefits necessitating support through expensive clinical trials to convince consumers during their shopping process.

The topic of conversation at the round table, “Understanding the return on investment in clinical research”, consisted of summarising the keys to gaining maximum profit from that investment. Participants in the event included our managing partner, Mr Juan Arias, and it took place at the Digital Days conference organised by Vitafood Insights on 15 and 16 February 2022.

“It is of the utmost importance to protect clinical research results using the intellectual and industrial property system. A temporary monopoly on the market over those inventions would therefore be acquired, as well as an even greater benefit which, amongst other things, will allow research to continue and contribute to project sustainability. Otherwise, third parties may come along and profit from the money, time and effort that was invested”, Juan Arias indicated during his first speech.

In addition to protection for inventions in the nutraceutical field, other topics that are key to gaining maximum profit from the resources dedicated to research, e.g., developing efficient protocols, defining clear messages that connect with consumers or choosing the right partner for conducting clinical trials, were discussed during the meeting. For that purpose, in the virtual meeting moderated by Ms Heather Granato, Vice President of Content at Vitafoods Insights, participants included our managing partner along with Mr Andreas Biller, founder of Dr Biller Biosulting & Pharma, and Ms Jennifer Murphy, Director of Innovation and Clinical Development at PL Thomas.

Clinical trial partnerships

One of the most common dynamics in the nutraceutical industry is to establish associations for partnering up with universities and other scientific entities during the research process. Both speakers agreed on the importance of this, particularly when conducting clinical trials aimed at supporting the efficacy of compounds intended to be marketed, and, therefore, ensuring that the messages used during the marketing process for those products are rigorous and have a scientific basis.

In this regard, Jennifer Murphy and Andreas Biller also referred to certain aspects that would require particular attention in these partnerships.

“It is important to bear in mind that designing studies for academic purposes is different from designing trials to prove assertions. The justification of arguments is not typically taken into account in academia, and it is our responsibility to ensure that the trial actually supports our claimsJennifer stated in one of her interventions.


 “In my experience, universities can be slow, and the quality of the corresponding final report may be poor because universities are not altogether familiar with regulatory requirements. Working with them involves so much time”, Andreas added.

In addition to both of the above considerations, our managing partner mentioned two aspects relating to industrial property that should be defined before starting a partnership with an academic institution.

Before starting the project, it is crucial that you sign a partnership agreement which lays out to whom the know-how developed during said project belongs. This issue often results in problems, especially when the results are good. Without this agreement, one of the parties may file for a patent without the knowledge of the other and without including that other party as a proprietor. Furthermore, you have to define what information resulting from trials can be made public and when to make it public so that this communication is not an impediment to the patentability of the invention”, Juan Arias stressed.

Digital Days represent Vitafoods’ newest commitment to continue connecting with the numerous international agents within the nutraceutical industry and are dedicated to specific topics discussed by the participating experts. The next event of this type will be held on 20 and 21 April and will be focusing on “Innovation & Startups”.

ABG Intellectual Property’s participation is part of our firm’s effort to promote the intellectual and industrial property system as a driving force for progress and a key tool for innovative entities to protect their competitive edge.

ABG is a leading European IP firm. ABG’s more than 60 professionals combine experience, outstanding technical knowledge and deep legal expertise to be at the forefront of IP law.
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