In 2010, The Public Patent Foundation opposed Abbott’s patents on eight compounds, alleging that prior art proves Abbott’s patents are undeserved.
This year (2011), the pre-grant opposition filed by the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK) and generics pharmaceutical firms achieved success when the Indian Patent Office rejected Abbott’s patent on lopinavir+ritonavir heat-stable on the grounds that this new form was not an invention which warranted a new patent.
What are march-in rights?
The United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) made R&D grants to Abbott that led to the invention of ritonavir. Under the U.S. law known as Bayh-Dole, the U.S. therefore maintains “march-in” rights over ritonavir – the right to issue a license for the invention to another party, including in cases where the patent holder (Abbott) is not making the product reasonably available.
What is voluntary licensing?
Patent holders may also voluntarily license their patented technology for use by other companies, governments or non-governmental organizations.
This summer (2011), the pharmaceutical company Gilead voluntarily licensed the HIV medicines tenofovir, emtricitabine, cobicistat, and elvitegravir as well as a combination of these products in a single pill known as the “Quad” to the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). This enables the MPP to grant licenses to generic pharmaceutical manufacturers in exchange for a small royalty fee for Gilead, increasing competition, lowering prices and expanding access.
Additionally, analysts believe the prospect of production under compulsory licenses has helped South Africa achieve more favorable voluntary licensing terms for some ARV treatments.