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These further applications can contain variations of the originally filed invention that provide improvements or solve problems generic link lipitor online tramadol not envisaged at the original time of filing. In this context, such follow-on patenting is a legitimate use of the patent system. Cumulative innovation is one of the tenets of the patent system and indeed, science as a whole. While these patents may prevent competitor entry into the market, this is the nature of IP protection.
Furthermore, while patent protection may be used to exclude innovation by others,200 "inventing around" a patent can lead to new innovation, which of itself may be generic link lipitor online tramadol worthy of patent protection. Submissions to generic link lipitor online tramadol the Panel debate the degree to which follow-on patents restrict market entry of generic versions of originally patented technology.
For example, IPTA submits that follow-on natural alternative to xanax patents do not interfere with the manufacture and use of drugs described in the original patent.201 GMiA argues this point, stating "it is certainly not correct that generic link lipitor online tramadol follow-on patents do not prevent generic versions of the original drug from entering the market".202 GMiA further presents a table providing 12 instances wherein follow-on patents were used to gain court-ordered injunctions and delay generic entry.203 A number of submissions received by the Panel argue that low patentability standards are permitting the grant of low quality patents over non-inventive variations of an original pharmaceutical product. They argue that ease with which originator pharmaceutical companies can obtain these patents over trivial modifications increases the number of follow-on patents surrounding a single product and that this is a major contributor to the patent density surrounding pharmaceuticals.204 7.3.1. Patent thickets The European Patent Office recently published a report from a workshop focussing on patent thickets.205 In their definition of a patent thicket, the authors included the criteria that multiple patents for similar technology need be held by multiple parties.206 Furthermore, they suggested that it is the blocking effects of these multiple overlapping patents, held by multiple parties, that contribute to a patent thicket.
The report further discussed literature distinguishing between complex and discrete technologies207 and provided generic link lipitor online tramadol data indicating that patent thickets are significantly more likely to occur in complex technologies.
The chemical and pharmaceutical technology sectors were specifically listed as examples of discrete technologies and it was stated that in the pharmaceutical industry, "thickets were thought to be less prevalent and less problematic".208 The Panel considers that the submissions do not support a case for the presence of pharmaceutical patent thickets in Australia. The "patent thickets" described in submissions to the Panel generally referred to the patent portfolio of a single originator company in relation to a single pharmaceutical.
This type of portfolio does not fall within the meaning of a patent thicket as summarised above, and certainly does not appear to be comparable to voluminous patent thickets commonly discussed with regard to software and electronics, particularly in the US patent system. The Panel, however, does not wish to undermine the concerns expressed in submissions regarding this area and notes these concerns generally echo those presented in the EPO report in relation to patent thickets: patent thickets raise entry costs for new entrants, reducing the system's benefits for society. In such a situation, it is argued that strategic use of the patent system by applicants may be interfering with the goals of the system, by obliging innovators to spend inordinate resources on transaction costs to bring new technology that builds on prior work to market.209 The strategic use of the patent system, as referred to above, is a key point. The patent system is highly complex and regardless of whether or not patent thickets are actually present, the ability of companies to employ such strategic behaviours should be the focus of discussion.
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