Forum: 'Patent Linkage' Crucial

Medicine makers must fully understand patent linkage to reduce the risks of infringing on existing products, said a senior trade association official at a recent intellectual property rights forum in Taizhou, Jiangsu province.

Patent linkage is the system that correlates drug approval with valid patents.

It enables a patent applicant to uncover related documentation and at the same time aids rightful owners in getting more information about potential competitors, said Chen Xin, an official specializing in patent and trademark searches at the China Council for Promotion of International Trade.

The international IPR summit on medicines and chemicals held from May 25 to 27 in Taizhou discussed timely issues ranging from creation and protection to patent commercialization and trends in the industry.

Experts noted that IPR infringement in China continues because of the low compensation awarded in court cases, and difficulties in investigation and obtaining evidence.

As well, the absence of patent linkage to market approval means higher costs to companies that have to fight for their legitimate rights, said Stephen Bennett, a partner in the London law firm Hogan Lovells.

In the United Kingdom, a non-patented medicine company has to clear potential patent disputes before its products are allowed on the market. Otherwise, it faces the risk of a court injunction, said Bennett.

Both makers of new medicines and generic drugs need to prepare ahead for years, he said.

Authorities in the host city Taizhou, which is famed for its medicine industry, have long valued building an IPR-friendly environment, Tian Lipu, commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office, told China Daily.

Due to the sound IPR protection, Tian said he believes medicine companies from around the world would like to establish operations in the city.

Hosting the international forum enhances the confidence of researchers, innovators and investors, he noted.

The three-day event attracted nearly 400 government officials, noted judges and attorneys, and executives of leading medicine and chemicals companies from home and abroad.

Jiangsu province is at a key stage in economic transformation, said Cao Weixing, deputy governor of the coastal province in East China.

With a focus on technology and human resources, local authorities are trying to build an innovation-driven economy through developing emerging sectors such as renewable energy, new materials, bio-technology and medicines, and energy-efficient and eco-friendly industries, Cao said.

The forum helps import advanced experience and improve capacity in intellectual property creation, use, protection and management, he said.

Taizhou National Medicine High-tech Development Zone, the only one of its kind in the country, is also known as China Medical City.

With planned total area of 30 square kilometers, it will include education, research, manufacturing, exhibitions, trade, healthcare and medical services.

The ministries of health, and science and technology, as well as the State administrations for food and drugs, and traditional Chinese medicine, are jointly developing the zone with the provincial government.

The center now under construction will be home to more than 500 medical companies and some 50 universities and research institutions with at least 400 globally leading medical innovations.

The number of medical companies is projected to surpass 1,000 in 2015, generating 100 billion yuan in sales, according to the city's development plan.

(Source: China Daily)