Gilead Sciences on Tuesday announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office upheld one of four patents on its antiretroviral drug Viread, Reuters reports. The four patents had been challenged by the not-for-profit group Public Patent Foundation, or PUBPAT, last year. PTO has not ruled on the remaining three patents, according to Reuters (Beasley, Reuters, 5/20).
PUBPAT last year submitted evidence to PTO that the scientific knowledge on which the four patents were based existed before Gilead held the patents. The foundation in its challenge to the patents submitted prior knowledge that Gilead had not disclosed to PTO during the patent application process. In its challenge, PUBPAT said that the prior knowledge would have prevented PTO from issuing the patents. PTO in January rejected the four patents in response to the challenge. Gilead had the right to respond to the PTO decision, and the patents will be protected while Gilead responds. Amy Flood, a spokesperson for Gilead, said that rejection is a "typical step in the re-examination process" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/24).
Gregg Alton, a lawyer for Gilead, said the company has "always believed" that PTO "would recognize that Viread is a novel product, and we remain confident that the office will rule similarly on the remaining three patents under review." Mark Schoenebaum, an analyst at Bear Stearns, said that the PTO decision to uphold one of the patents "reduces a minor overhang on Gilead shares," adding that "the risk had been low that the patents would be rejected in a final manner" (Reuters, 5/20).
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