The right to a patent term extension based upon premarket regulatory review is the result of the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, Public Law 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. This second distortion is embodied in 35 U.S.C. 271(e)(1) which provides a safe harbor for otherwise patent infringing conduct that is solely for uses reasonably related to the development and submission of information under a Federal law which regulates the manufacture, use, or sale of drugs or veterinary biological products.
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 under 35 U.S.C. 156(a) are defined in 35 U.S.C. 156(b), but are not limited to a claim-by-claim basis. Rather, subsection(a) of 156 indicates that “[t]he term of a patent which claims a product, a method of using a product, or a method of manufacturing a product shall be extended.” See Genetics Institute LLC v. Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Inc., 655 F.3d 1291, 99 USPQ2d 1713 (Fed. Cir. 2011). However, pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 156(b) , 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 et al., Generic and Innovator Drugs: A Guide to FDA Approval Requirements, Eighth Edition, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2013, 4.05 for a discussion of the Hatch-Waxman Act and infringement litigation. Furthermore, Congress provided that the FDA will grant to the marketing applicant a period of 5 years of data exclusivity for any active ingredient or salt or ester of the active ingredient which 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). This language regarding the sixty-day period has been clarified by the America Invents Act where the Act provides that, “[f]or purposes of determining the date on which a product receives permission under the second sentence of this paragraph, if such permission is transmitted after 4:30 P.M., Eastern Time, on a business day, or is transmitted on a day that is not a business day, the product shall be deemed to receive such permission on the next business day. For purposes of the preceding sentence, the term ‘business day’ means any Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, excluding any legal holiday under section 6103 of title 5.” See Section 37 of the AIA and 35 U.S.C. 156.
On November 25, 2015, 35 U.S.C. 156(d)(1) was further amended by the Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act (Pub. L. 114-89, 129 stat 698 (2015)) to provide that the time period for submission for an application for patent term extension, where the regulatory review is of a drug product for which the Secretary of Health and Human Services intends to recommend controls under the Controlled Substances Act, is the sixty day period beginning on the “covered date”, where the “covered date” is the later of:
- (A) the date an application is approved—
- (i) under section 351(a)(2)(C) of the Public Health Service Act; or
- (ii) under section 505(b) or 512(c) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act;
- (B) the date an application is conditionally approved under section 571(b) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act;
- (C) the date a request for indexing is granted under section 572(d) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; or
- (D) the date of issuance of the interim final rule controlling the drug under section 201(j) of the Controlled Substances Act.
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.