Patent protection only guaranteed in EU if made after 1994


European Court of Justice says protection cannot apply to patents lodged before WTO TRIPs agreement

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that patents covering pharmaceutical manufacturing processes cannot be extended to cover the resulting product if the patent was lodged before 1994. This was when the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs) came into force, and it says patents must cover a medicine’s content and manufacturing methods. But the ECJ has ruled that such protection cannot apply to patents lodged before TRIPs.

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Daiichi Sankyo and Sanofi-Aventis had wanted to prevent a Greece generic manufacturer from using an active ingredient, levofloxacin hemihydrate, covered by a 1986 Greek manufacturing patent. The firms wanted this to cover the resulting medicine as well, as under the TRIPs agreement, but the ECJ said the patent was too old.