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Initial and Follow-on Pharmaceutical Inventions in Europe

  • Bengt Domeij
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter examines how European courts have determined the scope of pharmaceutical patents. The author argues that the legal considerations in the different cases can be rationalized as attempts to promote both initial and follow-on inventors. Courts do this by interpreting the patent claims depending on the achievement made by the accused infringer. If a competitor to the patentee has made an important follow-on technical achievement, courts tend to interpret the claims narrowly and make a finding of non-infringement. If, on the other hand, the accused product is of no particular value compared to the initial invention, the claim interpretation is stretched so as to find the follow-on product infringing. This legal approach enables the patent system to maintain incentives at a high level for valuable follow-on inventions, even after the grant of a first patent. The economic advantages of using this approach to claim interpretation offer an explanation for why the scope of protection in a patent may have to be left without a definitive technical boundary. By allowing courts some discretion in interpreting claims, through e.g. the doctrine of equivalence, they may be able to create extra incentives for especially valuable, but for the time being, unknown follow-on inventions.

Keywords

Intellectual Property European Patent Office Patent System Patented Invention Legal Certainty 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bengt Domeij
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Industrial Economy and OrganisationThe Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Industrial Economy and OrganisationThe Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

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