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In a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld disputed language in patent law that could lead to patents being canceled more easily, unless small drug makers and biotech companies more carefully construct deals involving their intellectual property.

At issue was the intent of the America Invents Act, which in 2011 made several changes to U.S. patent law, and prohibits a company from patenting an invention if it was “on sale” for more than a year before filing a patent application. In this instance, the Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling that Congress did not intend to change the law regarding sales. As a result, any sale or offer, whether publicly known or not, can lead to an invalidated patent, which is a victory for generic drug makers.

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