2750 Patent Term Extension for Delays at other Agencies under 35 U.S.C. 156 [R-2]
The right to a patent term extension based upon regulatory review is the result of the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-417, 98 Stat. 1585 (codified at 21 U.S.C. 355(b), (j), (l); 35 U.S.C. 156, 271, 282)(Hatch-Waxman Act). The act sought to eliminate two distortions to the normal “patent term produced by the requirement that certain products must receive premarket regulatory approval.” Eli Lilly & Co. v. Medtronic Inc., 496 U.S. 661, 669, 15 USPQ2d 1121, 1126 (1990). The first distortion was that the patent owner loses patent term during the early years of the patent because the product cannot be commercially marketed without approval from a regulatory agency. The second distortion occurred after the end of the patent term because competitors could not immediately enter the market upon expiration of the patent because they were not allowed to begin testing and other activities necessary to receive FDA approval before patent expiration.
The part of the act codified as 35 U.S.C. 156 was designed to create new incentives for research and development of certain products subject to premarket government approval by a regulatory agency. The statute enables the owners of patents on certain human drugs, food or color additives, medical devices, animal drugs, and veterinary biological products to restore to the terms of those patents some of the time lost while awaiting premarket government approval from a regulatory agency. The rights derived from extension of the patent term are limited to the approved product (as defined in 35 U.S.C. 156(a)(4) and (a)(5)). See 35 U.S.C. 156(b). Accordingly, if the patent claims other products in addition to the approved product, the exclusive patent rights to the additional products expire with the original expiration date of the patent.
In exchange for extension of the term of the patent, Congress legislatively overruled Roche Products v. Bolar Pharmaceuticals, 733 F.2d 858, 221 USPQ 937 (Fed. Cir. 1984) as to products covered by 35 U.S.C. 271(e) and provided that it shall not be an act of infringement, for example, to make and test a patented drug solely for the purpose of developing and submitting information for an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA). 35 U.S.C. 271(e)(1). See Donald O. Beers, Generic and Innovator Drugs: A Guide to FDA Approval Requirements, Fifth Edition, Aspen Law & Business, 1999, 4.3 for a discussion of the Hatch-Waxman Act and infringement litigation. Furthermore, Congress provided that an ANDA cannot be filed until five years after the approval date of the product if the active ingredient or a salt or ester of the active ingredient had not been previously approved under section 505(b) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. 21 U.S.C. 355(j)(4)(D)(ii). See also Lourie, Patent Term Restoration: History, Summary, and Appraisal, 40 Food, Drug and Cosmetic L. J. 351, 353-60 (1985). See also Lourie, Patent Term Restoration, 66 J. Pat. Off. Soc’y 526 (1984).
On November 16, 1988, 35 U.S.C. 156 was amended by Public Law 100-670, essentially to add animal drugs and veterinary biologics to the list of products that can form the basis of patent term extension. Animal drug products which are primarily manufactured through biotechnology are excluded from the provisions of patent term extension.
On December 3, 1993, 35 U.S.C. 156 was further amended to provide for interim extension of a patent where a product claimed by the patent was expected to be approved, but not until after the original expiration date of the patent. Public Law 103-179, Section 5.
An application for the extension of the term of a patent under 35 U.S.C. 156 must be submitted by the owner of record of the patent or its agent within the sixty-day period beginning on the date the product received permission for commercial marketing or use under the provision of law under which the applicable regulatory review period occurred for commercial marketing or use. See 35 U.S.C. 156(d)(1). The USPTO initially determines whether the application is formally complete and whether the patent is eligible for extension. The statute requires the ** > Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office < to notify the Secretary of Agriculture or the Secretary of Health and Human Services of the submission of an application for extension of patent term which complies with 35 U.S.C. 156 within sixty days and to submit to the Secretary a copy of the application. Not later than thirty days after receipt of the application from the * > Director < , the Secretary will determine the length of the applicable regulatory review period and notify the * > Director < of the determination. If the * > Director < determines that the patent is eligible for extension, the * > Director < calculates the length of extension for which the patent is eligible under the appropriate statutory provision and issues an appropriate Certificate of Extension.