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Europe is now poised to award longer terms to some SPCs

14 September 2015

News & Views
Author: Mike Snodin

On 10 September 2015, Advocate-General (A-G) Jääskinen of The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued his opinion in a case (C-471/14, Seattle Genetics) concerning the calculation of the term of certain Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs).

Although not binding upon the CJEU, A-G Jääskinen’s opinion represents good news for those in the innovative pharmaceutical industry. This is because the opinion essentially concludes that:
• the SPC legislation must be interpreted in a manner that allows for longer SPC term to be awarded to certain “centrally” authorised medicinal products; and
• any different interpretation would be contrary to the fundamental objectives of the SPC legislation.

The latter point is particularly important, as it could make it difficult for the CJEU to reach a contrary conclusion in its final judgement - which is likely to issue any time within the next 1 to 10 months. Thus, it appears more likely than not that the CJEU is now poised to confirm the A-G’s opinion (which Park Grove IP is pleased to note is in full agreement with arguments originating in various articles authored by Mike Snodin, and published as long ago as October 2011).

If confirmed by the CJEU, A-G Jääskinen’s opinion may have broader implications, such as providing arguments in favour of:
- setting a later application deadline for SPCs based upon a “centralised” MA; and/or
- providing longer terms (and/or later application deadlines) for SPCs based upon national MAs that are the 1st in the Community and that take effect upon the date on which they are notified to the MA applicant.

However, it remains to be seen whether such arguments will be equally as persuasive as those that have been accepted by the Advocate-General.

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