[The following is a BIO 2017 meeting overview provided by attendee and moderator Kevin Noonan, who writes the "Patent Docs" column every other month for DDNews]
The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) held its latest BIO International Convention in San Diego from June 19-23, with more than 16,000 attendees and over 1,800 exhibitors in the exhibit hall. The word of the week was “breakthrough,” according to BIO, and many of these breakthroughs were the subject of BIO’s partnering meetings held concurrently with the exhibits in the exhibit hall. Attendees came from 74 countries and 48 of the 50 states, and there were more than 100 U.S. and foreign public officials, over 800 speakers and more than 60 patient advocacy and venture philanthropy groups, according to official statistics.
Along with many special programs (such as the Biotechnology Entrepreneurship Boot Camp), the convention provided dozens of educational tracks and panel discussions, under such program banners as: Harnessing Big Data to Drive Innovation in Biomedicine, Infectious Diseases and Vaccines, Next Generation Biotherapeutics, Oncology, Orphan and Rare Diseases, Personalized Medicine and Diagnostics, Regulatory Science, Translational Research, Brain Heath, Biofuels and Renewable Chemicals, Business Development and Finance, Critical Cross Disciplinary Issues, Digital Health, Emerging Opportunities in Global Markets, Global Innovation Hubs, Intellectual Property, Modern Agricultural Innovation, Value, Patient Access and Commercialization
In addition, there were several “Super Sessions” on such topics as:
- “So Many Choices: What’s the Right Biomanufacturing Strategy for Me?”
- “Dealmakers’ Intentions: 2017 Market Outlook”
- “Our Common Goal: Ensuring Access and Affordability to Innovative Medicines”
- “The Trade and Investment Policies of the Trump Administration”
- “Scientific American World View: Wrapping Up and Looking Forward”
The Intellectual Property track contained panels on many issues of current and continuing concern, including biosimilars, subject matter eligibility and the impact of Brexit on patenting in Europe. The track kicked off with an overview session entitled “The State of Biotechnology Patenting in the United States, and Future Directions” that included a panel moderated by me and including Robert Stoll, former Commissioner for Patents of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO); Hans Sauer, BIO’s vice president for intellectual property; Jeffrey Lamkin, a U.S. Supreme Court advocate; and Lori Pressman, one of the authors of a BIO/AUTM-supported study on the (positive) economic impact of the Bayh-Dole Act and university tech transfer/inter partes review (IPR) on biopharma patents.
The uncertainty created by the Supreme Court’s Mayo/Alice case law in view of the court’s unwillingness to grant certiorari in Ariosa v. Sequenom was addressed in two panels. The first, entitled “Innovation and the Human Microbiome: Patent Eligibility and IP Protection,” moderated by David Gass, used the microbiome as a case study. The second, entitled “Subject Matter Eligibility: Where Do We Go Now?” was moderated by Barbara Fiacco and had the former Director of the USPTO, David Kappos, on the panel, as well as Kevin Rhodes from 3M and Melissa Bloom from BIO.
As at last year’s convention, there was a panel on biosimilars litigation, featuring Wendy Whiteford from Amgen as well as Dr. Chuck Sholtz from Coherus and the Hon. Faith Hochberg, a retired U.S. District Court judge. The Brexit panel addressed the changes from transactional, litigation and prosecution viewpoints and was moderated by Patrick Duxbury.
Keeping with the international aspects of intellectual property (IP) there was also a panel on obtaining and challenging patents globally, addressing the issues from the U.S., European and Japanese perspectives. The IP track rounded out with a session on trade secret protection, including on the panel the Acting Unit Chief of the FBI, Denise Hickey from Celgene, Brad Morie from Althea and Anne Elise Herold Li from Corwell and Morning—this panel was moderated by John Fortin from Lonza. The most specialized of the IP track panels was on the Omnirat, a tool for producing human therapeutic antibodies and discussed by representatives of the company that brought the rate to market as well as the European Patent Office examiner responsible for the application in Europe.
One keynote address was given by David Cameron, former British Prime Minister, who discussed Brexit and the future of Britain and the European Union after Great Britain leaves the EU. Another keynote was by Anne Romney, former Massachusetts First Lady and presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s spouse, who discussed her own struggles with multiple sclerosis in the context of patient advocacy and developing new medicines for treating neurological disease.
As was the case last year, there were also a number of “fireside chats,” more informal presentations by speakers including Brent Sauders, chairman and CEO of Allergan; Dr. Lloyd Minor, dean of Stanford Medical School; Dr. David Hung, CEO of Axovant Sciences; Daniel Skovronsky, Senior vice president of clinical and product development at Eli Lilly & Co.; Francis deSouza, president and CEO of Illumina; and astronaut Dr. Kate Rubins.
BIO has also intensified the business portion of the convention, particularly its “one-on-one” partnering event; this year there were more than 41,000 meetings, which BIO said was a 16-percent increase over 2016.
The next BIO International Convention will be held in Boston, June 4-7, 2018.
Kevin Noonan is a partner with the law firm McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP and represents biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies on a myriad of issues. A former molecular biologist, he is also the founding author of the Patent Docs weblog, http://patentdocs.typepad.com/.
If you’d like a bit more of Noonan’s traditional “Patent Docs” column fare, here are some recent items he has written for DDNews:
- Laches as a defense to patent infringement felled by Supreme Court
- FDA releases further guidances for its biosimilar drug approval pathway
- Solicitor General recommends that the Supreme Court review Federal Circuit decision in Sandoz v. Amgen