United KingdomRecent patent law developments: a new test for obviousness and a statement on the principles for determining industrial applicability

Two recent patent decisions by the English Court of Appeal and the House of Lords have substantially changed and clarified the law in regard to obviousness. First, the Court of Appeal ruling in Pozzoli SpA v BDMO SA restated the test for obviousness as originally formulated in 1986 in Windsurfing International v Tabur Marine, which previously defined the law of obviousness. Second, the House of Lords decision in Conor Medsystems Inc v Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc clarified the test for obviousness even further and will arguably lead to more patents being upheld. In addition, in an area of law with little precedent, in Eli Lilly & Co v Human Genome Sciences Inc the High Court provided a detailed examination of the requirement that an invention be capable of industrial application in order to be patentable.

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