On the back of the Indian Patent Office’s (IPO) decision to reject Abbott’s patent application for the heat stable form of lopinavir/ritonavir, Abbott has procceeded to voluntarily abandon a number of key applications relating to the drug.
On 13 April 2011, the IPO issued a decision under s15 of the Patents Act refusing Abbott’s application number IN/PCT/2001/00018/MUM (‘00018), which claimed a polymorph of ritonavir. I-MAK had prepared and filed a pre-grant opposition to 00018 on behalf of Indian patient groups. The application was also opposed by Ranbaxy, Matrix and Cipla.
It appears that in light of the IPO maintaining its objections through the first examination report and pending pre-grant oppositions, Abbott abandoned the application.
The abandoning of 00018 follows an earlier correspondence from Abbott’s Indian attorneys requesting that no further action be taken in relation application numbers 676/MUMNP/2007, 677/MUMNP/2007 (both divisional applications of 00018) and 726/MUMNP/2009 (a divisional of 339/MUMNP/2006 (‘339), the refused heat stable form of lopinavir/ritonavir). We are still awaiting official correspondence from the IPO confirming the abandoning of the applications. Abbott had abandoned another divisional application of ‘339 (Application No. 2474/DELNP/2009) last year (see here).
According to our initial checks on the IPO database, no new divisional applications for the abandoned ones have surfaced as yet. However, it can take some time before such applications are published, so we wait to see. It is also possible Abbott may change the claims of its application 1638/MUMNP/2007 (also a divisional of ‘00018) back to the original claims covering the polymorph of ritonavir. The current divisional claims only cover a process for preparing a substantially pure ritonavir crystalline form.
With respect to the refused application for ‘339 relating to the heat stable form, the deadline for Abbott to appeal to the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) was 31 March 2011. To date we have not received any notice of an appeal, but this can take time to be processed by the IPAB.