Competitive Exams: Current Affairs 2011: Ever Greening Patents
Ever Greening Patents
What does ‘Ever Greening’ mean in the context of patents and especially with regard to the pharma industry?
Well, a company manufactures a product for which it secures a patent. Shortly before the expiration of that patent, the company files a new patent that revises or extends the term of protection. This is what ever greening is all about. Ever greening is a method by which technology producers keep their products updated, with the intent of maintaining patent protection for longer periods of time than would normally be permissible under the low. It refers to increasing the life of the patent or the patent term beyond 20 years to reap the benefits for a much longer period of time.
The ever-greening process has causes some controversy in the pharmaceutical industry. Ever greening may be used by manufacturers of a particular drug to restrict or prevent competition from manufacturers of generic equivalents to that drug. The process of ever greening may involve specific aspects of patent law and international trade law. The main arguments in favour of governments regulating against ever greening are that rapid entry of multiple generic competitors after patent expiry is likely to lower prices and facilitate competition, and that eventual loss of monopoly was part of the trade-off for the initial award of patent (or intellectual monopoly privilege) protection in the first place.
Courtesy: The Hindu and Times of India