Appleyard Lees

Bioinformatics

“You can’t patent bioinformatic software”, is a statement we hear often and we beg to differ. The answer isn’t always straightforward and does of course depend on the algorithm and steps undertaken by the software. But, in practice patents are being filed and, more importantly, granted for bioinformatic inventions in Europe and further afield.

Computational biology, genomics, proteomics, biomodeling and comparative genomic hybridizations are blurring the lines between experiments conducted in vivo and in silico. Bioinformatics are also blurring the lines between what is and is not patentable in relation to analytical/screening methods and software – both are historically grey areas from a patent protection point of view. Our life science and software attorneys work together on bioinformatics cases to provide the best possible advice and service for our clients.

More patent applications are now being filed on Bioinformatics inventions. The fact that this area is in its infancy is evident from the fact that there are only a handful of legal decisions in the field of bioinformatics. For example, the European Patent Office has now acknowledged that novel mathematical steps in a bioinformatic method can make a technical contribution and thus have to be taken into account when assessing patentability and are therefore subject to the same considerations as software inventions.

With the rise of genetic testing and pharmacogenetics, bioinformatic analysis is becoming ever more important for those wishing to offer one-stop solutions to hospitals and physicians. It is only a matter of time before the area of bioinformatics becomes an intense patent battle as companies strive to sell their testing devices into the lucrative healthcare sector.