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27 April 2018Americas

LSPN North America: Modest activity for Patents 4 Patients scheme, says USPTO

The Patents 4 Patients programme has received a modest amount of activity since it started two years ago, according to Mary Till, senior legal advisor at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Till discussed the current state of the Patents 4 Patients scheme at the Life Sciences Patent Network North America event in Boston, yesterday, April 26.

The Patents 4 Patients initiative was established by the USPTO to support former US President Barack Obama’s $1 billion National Cancer Moonshot initiative, launched in February 2016.

It was established to provide a fast-track review for cancer immunotherapy-related patent applications without the need for applicants to pay a petition fee. It allows patent applications relating to immunotherapy to be accelerated through the application process, decreasing by half the time it takes to review such patent applications.

“The purpose of the programme is to get the rights out there to the people in the trenches and doing the type of cancer immunotherapy work to make sure that they’re protected in a very short period of time,” explained Till.

Although it was scheduled to end in June 2017, the programme was extended until December 2018.

“We’ve had a decent amount of action, but not a tonne,” admitted Till. “Total submissions when we pulled numbers in March was 126 which had been granted this specials status, and only 16 had been dismissed.”

When the patent application receives this special status, which requires that at least one claim is a method of treating cancer using immunotherapy, it will then go to the examination process.

“Once it has been granted the status, the examiners are picking them up within, on average, 22 days, so it’s a very, very quick turnaround,” continued Till.

“As far as some of the outcomes of these applications, we’ve had 37 that have been issued patents, there are 52 that are pending and of the remaining, those have either a final rejection, a notice of allowance, or have been abandoned,” she concluded.

The LSPN North America event took place at the Ritz-Carlton in Boston on Thursday, April 26.

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