Technical Consultation on the review of draft guidelines for the examination of pharmaceutical patents

Geneva, 14 September, 2006

Description |Participants| Documents


It is now generally acknowledged that the current regime of patent protection put forward by the TRIPS Agreement has a significant impact on the pharmaceutical sector. Furthermore, low standards of patentability and weakness in patent procedures have led to a considerable increase in the number of patents being granted - patents that would otherwise fail to comply with the patentability criteria of novelty, inventive step and non-obviousness as understood in the traditional sense. Today, many patent offices around the world are overwhelmed by the influx of patents leading to a laxity in the examination process. This has serious repercussions on the patent system. The increasing number of 'bad patents' may also end up blocking downstream innovation, and unecessarily defering the entry of competitive firms thus impacting access to vital medicines and public health at large.

In an effort to address this issue, the organising institutions, WHO, UNCTAD and ICTSD co-sponsored the preparation of draft guidelines on the examination of pharmaceutical patents. These guidelines are aimed at supporting patent examiners, particularly in developing countries, in maintaining an overall high level of quality of patents, bearing in mind public health interests. Additionally, the guidelines aim to contribute to an increased transparency and efficiency of the patent system with respect to pharmaceutical products.

In furtherance of this endeavour, the technical consultation amongst a small group of experts was organised to review and supplement the draft guidelines. The consultation commenced with introductory remarks from the organising institutions. This was followed by a presentation of the guidelines by Professor Carlos Correa which set the tone for discussions amongst the experts.

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