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Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences

Faculty of Law

‘Mapping the European Patent Landscape for Medical Uses of Known Products’, co-authored by Prof. Mateo Aboy, Prof. Kathy Liddell, Dr John Liddicoat, Dr Cristina Crespo, and Matt Jordan, uses EPO data to examine the European patent landscape of first and further medical uses of known products. Specifically, the paper addresses three research questions:

  1. What activity has there been in the EPO for medical uses of known products over the last 30 years? How many patents are granted per year? What is their allowance rate?

  2. Which organisations are leading the patent activity for medical uses of known products?

  3. What types of claim formulations are being used to protect these inventions and what is their relative prevalence?

Most countries active in pharmaceutical innovation offer patent protection and market exclusivity for new medical uses of known products. However, the question of whether such policies offer sustainable business models is an active debate within the field of pharmaceutical research known as ‘repurposing’. Commentators argue that the patent system offers insufficient incentives for repurposing, but these claims remain empirically untested. This research helps fill the gap.

The paper is a featured patent article in the journal’s November 2021 issue. Previous papers from this group published in Nature Biotechnology include:

Empirical studies continue to be a core focus of LML research, and feature significantly in LML's contribution to the CeBIL research programme. Timo Minssen (University of Copengahen), CeBIL's Principal Investigator, shared his enthusiasm for this paper on LinkedIn, writing:

Interested in ”the European patent landscape for medical uses of known products"? Then check-out this exciting paper involving several of our wonderful CeBIL partners from LML at the University of Cambridge ! Many congrats to Mateo Aboy, PhD, SJD, FITDr Kathy LiddellJohn Liddicoat , Cristina Crespo & Matthew Jordan!"