José Manuel González has a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Complutense University of Madrid. He is one of our specialists patents in the areas of Biotechnology and Pharmacy. Today, he is pleased to answer some questions and help us to understand more precisely the aspects of this figure of Intellectual Property.
1. Let’s start with something easy. Briefly, what is a patent and what is it for?
The main purpose of a patent is to achieve market exclusivity. If a company patents a product that is very important for its commercial activity, the patent forbids any other company from selling the same product. Patents are sometimes obtained for secondary purposes; for example, they may help to position a technology, a product or a company in the market.
2. There is much controversy over the unitary patent. Many of our readers probably do not know what it is or how it functions. Could you explain what it is and why Spain does not form part of this project? What does non-participation mean for us?
A unitary patent is a patent that takes effect in all the countries in the European Union except Spain and Italy. The European patent will continue to exist and, once granted, will take effect in all these countries with a single patent. Although Spain does not participate in the unitary patient, Spanish companies can use the unitary patent if they are interested in achieving protection in all the countries within the European Union. What is not possible is that a company, regardless of its nationality, achieves protection in Spain with a unitary patent. To achieve protection in Spain, it must use another strategy such as validating the European patent in Spain or applying for a Spanish patent.
3. Technology transfer or invention patents transfer, what is it?
Patents are a fundamental element in negotiations between companies and institutions. Often, this negotiation ends in the sale or licensing of a patent and this is known as technology transfer. It may be that someone who has a patent does not have the necessary resources to manufacture and sell a given product. In this case, he can search for a collaborator who undertakes to bring this product to the market. When this technology transfer occurs, a specific product or technology reaches the consumer and everyone obtains an important benefit. I believe it is worth mentioning that sometimes this technology transfer is associated with the creation of a new technology-based company, for example, a spin-off from a university or from a research center. The creation of the spin-off also generates employment for highly qualified professionals.
4. If I do not wish to break the laws with my patent, how can I find information on what is considered an infringement and what are the most common cases of disputes that have ended in legal action? Can you give an example? It’s not necessary to name the “sinner.”
Imagine that a company has protected a particular product with a patent registration and another company decides to sell the same product. This sale is considered a patent infringement. It is relatively frequent to read in the media about legal processes in the pharmaceutical sector. There have also been widely commented cases in the smartphone sector. The more important the technology and sector, the greater the probability that patent litigation will occur.
5. Search the files if you wish to answer this question: which are the sectors with the most patents?
There are certain sectors that always register many patents, for example, the mechanics, electronics, information technology, food, chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnological sectors. From my professional experience, I know these sectors in great depth and can say that they are very important from the point of view of the number of patents and also for being products and technologies that positively affect both financially and even socially.