Top 10 Debateable Biotech and Patent Topics In The UK

1. How Do We Better Commercialise UK University Research?

UK universities produce high quality biotech research.  However so little of it seems to get successfully commercialised.  One reason for this might be that nature of the research cannot form the basis of high quality broad patents.  How do we make UK research more ground-breaking so that it results in more patenting opportunities?

2. What Is Wrong With The Structure Of UK Biotech?

Perhaps lots of small one product biotechs with the founder scientist as CEO need to be replaced with much larger companies having 10-plus projects that are reviewed, developed and axed (where necessary) by teams which are dispassionate and which include business expertise.

3. Why Can’t Big Pharma Do Innovative Research?

Small biotechs seem capable of innovation which big pharma cannot do. Being risk-averse and having committees rather than individuals make decisions could be part of the answer. There is clearly no easy solution.

4. Can IP Exchanges Work For Biotech?

A lot of revenue is being lost due to failure to sell or licence patented technology.  There does not seem to be an easy way for buyers and sellers to find each other in biotech. Perhaps IP exchanges will evolve to fill this gap.

5. Is The Patenting Process Too Uncertain?

Whilst biotech financing and research seem perilously risky, does the patenting process also have to be so uncertain?  ‘What claim scope will be granted?’ seems to be a difficult question to answer most of the time.  Are applicants or patent offices to blame?

6. How Does One Make It Easier For Investors To Do Due Diligence In The Biotech Sector?

Even big pharma finds it difficult to know which biotech companies to buy, and so there seems little hope for others to know where to invest in biotech.  Unfortunately that probably means biotech is losing out on a lot of potential sources of funding, such as the Middle East.

7. Should One Be Able To Negotiate Patent Term With Examiners?

Should patent term be negotiable depending on the value of the contribution made? This would make the patent system more flexible and perhaps fairer.  However given the increase in complexity and uncertainty for third parties it will probably never happen.

8. Does Academic Research Suffer When It Is Forced To Commercialise?

As the pressure on scientists to think more commercially intensifies, is academic research being harmed?  Will a culture of secrecy and competitiveness develop?  Will certain areas of research be neglected?

9. Do We Need A System To Protect Research Which Is Not Patentable?

A lot of biotech research is not novel and inventive, for example confirming in vitro predictions in clinical settings. Is there a way of protecting all research which results in something useful, irrespective of whether the outcomes are patentable?

10. Is Patent Quality In Decline? Does It Matter?

There is a feeling that patent quality is in decline.  Too many applications are being filed based on poor quality research where the contribution over the prior art is not clear.  For the many years these remain unexamined they cause third parties uncertainty.  However perhaps this is a valid strategy for small biotechs which are short of resources.


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