PhonlamaiPhoto /
15 November 2018Americas

LSPN Europe 2018: Technology advancing at ‘incredible pace’ in life sciences

The speed of technological advancements in the life sciences industry is forcing patent lawyers to consider whether the norms they’re used to dealing with in the profession still apply.

This is according to Anita Varma, partner at White & Case in Boston, who opened today’s LSPN Europe 2018 conference in London.

Varma asked whether patent lawyers are sufficiently prepared for the ongoing fourth industrial revolution, where technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence (AI) are interacting with the life sciences industry.

“The marriage between the two is pretty significant and seems to be moving at an incredible pace,” she said.

For example, in the context of AI, there are many questions lawyers must ask. “Who is the inventor, the human or the machine? Who owns the invention? What really is prior art? How do you identify who the person that is skilled in the art really is?,” she said.

“Not only do we have to think about shifting fundamental concepts,” Varma continued, but these issues need to be considered in the different geographical contexts that lawyers operate in.

Patent lawyers must file for patents worldwide, she said, and the shifting of these fundamental concepts often occurs jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction.

Varma provided the example of patentable subject matter.

“What is patentable in the US may not be patentable in Europe, and vice versa,” she said, before noting that there are also differences in the way that patents are enforced between the jurisdictions.

Looking to the future, Varma referenced promising advancements in both the US and in Europe.

Earlier this year, Andrei Iancu was confirmed as the new director of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Varma said that Iancu’s agenda focuses on three main areas: patent eligible subject matter, the broadest reasonable interpretation test, and the amendment of claims in Patent Trial and Appeal Board proceedings.

As reported by sister site  WIPR in September, Iancu announced plans to revise the USPTO’s guidance on what constitutes an unpatentable abstract idea, in an effort to increase clarity in the patent process.

Meanwhile, the European Patent Office (EPO) recently issued new guidelines—effective from November 1—which include an entire section of advice on AI and computer inventions.

“The EPO is really trying to be ahead of the curve when it comes to these inventions,” Varma said.

Varma is chairing LSPN Europe 2018 in London today, November 15.

The LSPN Europe 2018 event is taking place today, November 15 at the Bloomsbury Hotel in London.

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at