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Biotechnology

 

Biotechnology-related intellectual property matters have a long tradition at Kraus & Weisert and there is hardly any field in the life sciences which has been marked by such rapid scientific progress over the last years. Major scientific advances go hand in hand with a constantly evolving legal framework. Kraus & Weisert has accompanied this development from the start and has represented clients in numerous cases of great health, agricultural and scientific importance. Several significant biotech decisions by the European Patent Office are based on cases handled by Kraus & Weisert.

At the beginning, "classical" bio-technological matters prevailed: food technology like brewing beer or fermenting soya sauce, microbial treatment of sewage water or the synthesis of pharmaceutical drugs using microorganisms are just some examples. With the improvement of molecular cloning techniques, the protection of DNA and protein sequences moved to the frontline of the patent business. Kraus & Weisert has been able to secure important patents for its clients, especially the sequences of the first tumor markers and other biological factors. The development of the hybridoma technique, moreover, stimulated patent protection in the field of monoclonal antibodies and Kraus & Weisert has handled numerous antibody cases before the European Patent Office.

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Kraus & Weisert’s biology and biotechnology sector continuously expands. To respond to recent scientific developments, Kraus & Weisert’s biotech team consists of experienced patent attorneys and younger attorneys/trainees who have recently left university research. Thus, the team is able to cover a wide variety of biological, biomedical and biotechnological inventions: cloned genes, recombinant proteins, molecule diagnostics (SNP arrays, microsatellite DNA typing, PCR-based methods), gene therapy, various types of antibodies, RNA (microRNA, siRNA, translation oriented systems), biomarkers (e.g. in personalized medicine approaches), vaccines, stem cells, transgenic plants and animals etc., plant breeding innovations, microfluidic devices.

Due to the nature of biotechnology and its ethical implications the patenting of inventions in this field is subject to the specific provision of the European Patent Law and to a constantly evolving Case Law. But unlike the present situation in the US naturally existing compounds such as DNA, proteins, factors, small molecules etc. as well as methods relying on observations of reactions which occur in the body (e.g. diagnostic methods) are patentable under the legislation of the European Patent Convention, making Europe a very attractive place for biotech and biomedical patenting.

 

Kraus & Weisert is representing numerous biotechnology companies. The freedom to operate in the life science sector of larger companies is today fairly often restricted or totally blocked by basic patents directed, for example, to DNA and protein sequences or to functionally defined antibodies which used to be granted by the European Patent Office with a very broad scope. Kraus & Weisert has ample experience in opposition, appeal and nullity proceedings with respect to such issues. The attorneys of Kraus & Weisert were involved in patent disputes ranging from antibody inventions, enzyme optimization and vaccine development over cancer treatment on the basis of small molecules to medical devices for diagnostic purposes. In order to protect our clients' innovations to the full extent, it is of paramount importance to defend and, if necessary, enforce granted patents in infringement proceedings. Here, Kraus & Weisert has been able to successfully defend valuable intellectual property rights against major competitors.

Biotechnological inventions often require interdisciplinary skill and counseling. This applies, for example, to inventions in the field of 3D-crystallography of proteins, DNA and protein chips, plant protectant innovations on the basis of complex biological modes of action, or combinatorial screening of DNA libraries. Since Kraus & Weisert has scientifically trained patent attorneys and patent experts specializing in all major areas of modern technology a competent and full service can be offered for such cases.

Finally, Kraus & Weisert is part of an expert network in the biotech field. This allows us to bring our clients in contact with useful expertise concerning, inter alia, business development, start-up financing and regulatory approval.