A Federal judge has blocked the US Patent and Trademark Office from implementing tough new patent rules with a temporary injunction in a suit brought by GlaxoSmithKline. The Wall Street Journal reports the new rules would have limited the number of times patent holders may make minor changes to existing patent applications, known as continuances, a favorite maneuver of pharma companies.
The government claims the drug industry unfairly manipulates that system. GlaxoSmithKline says in court papers the proposed rules will cause the pharmaceutical industry irreparable harm. Critics say many companies use continuations to delay introduction of a product, monitor market developments, and then modify their patents to take advantage of emerging trend and cut off competitors.