Lessons from the Valcyte patent battle

Archana Shanker and Nupur Maithani consider what the battle over the Valcyte patent reveals about the Indian judiciary’s approach to pharmaceutical patents.

The Valcyte patent has followed a rather meandering course at the Indian Patent Office at Chennai. Roche filed Indian parent application 959/MAS/1995 claiming the L­valyl ester of ganciclovir on July 27 1995. The claimed mono-L-valyl ester has the advantage of increased oral bioavailability as compared to the base compound ganciclovir and its L-valyl di- ester. A pre-grant opposition was filed against Roche’s Valcyte application by the Indian Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS (INP+) and the Tamil Nadu Network of People with HIV/AIDS (TNNP+). The opposition was taken on record and Roche was directed to file a statement in reply. Its problems began when, after considering the opposition and reply statement, the Controller of Parents granted a patent (IN 207232) on the Valcyte application without hearing the parties to the opposition.

This article was published in IP Focus: Life Sciences 2010.

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