Secondary Pharmaceutical Patenting: A Global Perspective
37 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2017 Last revised: 27 Feb 2021
Date Written: January 2017
Pharmaceutical firms’ use of secondary patents to extend periods of exclusivity generates concerns among policymakers worldwide. In response, some developing countries have introduced measures to curb the grant of these patents. While these measures have received considerable attention, there is limited evidence on their effectiveness. We follow a large sample of international patent applications in the US, Japan, the European Patent Office, and corresponding filings in three developing countries with restrictions on secondary patents, India, Brazil, and Argentina. We examine cross-country comparisons of primary vs. secondary grant rates, consider the differential fates of “twin” applications filed in multiple countries, and undertake detailed analyses of patent prosecution in the three developing countries. Our analyses indicate that measures to restrict secondary patents in developing countries are having limited impact. In none of these three countries are specific policies toward secondary patents the principal determinant of grant rates. Our analyses also suggest the importance of other procedural aspects of patent systems, beyond the formal policies targeting secondary applications, that affect outcomes for these applications in developing countries.
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