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In a few months, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide a closely watched case that could lead to patents being canceled more easily and, therefore, chill deals that small drug makers may pursue in hopes of finding larger partners to get their medicines to market.

The case turns on disputed language in U.S. patent law, which was overhauled in 2011, that prohibits a company from patenting an invention if it was for sale for more than a year before filing a patent application. The court, which heard oral arguments on Tuesday, must decide whether Congress intended the law to apply only to agreements that are publicly known or also encompasses confidential transactions out of the public eye.

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  • So much innovation happens from smaller players. I believe it’s crucial we protect their ability to secure strong IP rights. And if you look at changes AIA made (e.g. 35 USC 102(c)), seems the lawmakers already want to protect confidential agreements/joint research agreements/etc (at least to some degree). I may be extrapolating here a bit but Supreme Court should extend a similar notion in this case IMO.

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