GSK fights patent office again

Once again, GlaxoSmithKline is charging into patent court on Big Pharma's behalf. The drugmaker is playing point against some procedural changes the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office proposed last year; GSK already got a district judge to throw out the rules, but now the issue is up for appeal.

Designed to clear up a backlog at the patent office--a whopping 700,000-application backlog, in fact--the rules would reduce the number of ways patents can be defined and cut the number of times they can be amended. GSK and other drugmakers say the rules would erode their ability to protect their discoveries, and thus would discourage innovation. Other companies have weighed in on the same side, including agricultural giant Monsanto and General Electric.

If GSK prevails once again, Congress would have to intervene to make the changes the PTO wants.

- read the WSJ Health Blog item