The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) held its latest (the 25th Annual) International Convention in Boston on June 4-7, with more than 18,000 attendees and over 1,800 exhibitors in the Exhibit Hall. The phrase of the week was “make history,” according to BIO, and part of that history was a greatly expanded footprint for partnering meetings held concurrently with the exhibits in the Exhibit Hall. Attendees came from 67 countries and 49 of the 50 states, and there were 180 sessions, 17 plus super sessions and fireside chats and 19 education tracks 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, directed to topics such as:
Biofuels and Renewable Chemicals
Business Development and Finance
Corporate Best Practices and Leadership
Emerging Opportunities in Global Markets
Infectious Diseases and Vaccines
Modern Agricultural Innovation
Next Generation Biotherapeutics
Opioids: Changing the Paradigm of Treating Pain and Addiction
Orphan and Rare Diseases
Personalized Medicine and Diagnostics
Value, Patient Access and Reimbursement
In addition there were several “Super Sessions” on such topics as “What’s Next: the Landscape of Innovation for 2018 and Beyond,” “The Global Vaccine Business: A View from the Top,” “Delivering the Promise of Gene Therapy,” “Dealmakers Intentions: 2018 Market Outlook,” “Heralding in a New Era of Precision Medicine,” and “Scientific American World View: Biotechnology’s Promise in a Changing Landscape.”
The Intellectual Property track contained panels on many issues of current and continuing concern, including antibody patenting, the interplay of ANDA litigation and IPRs, European opposition procedures, sovereign immunity. The track kicked off with an address by Director Andrew Iancu, who discussed his vision for the Patent and Trademark Office in how aspects of the AIA are implemented and applying judicial precedent to the patent examination process. How IPR proceedings affect ANDA litigation was discussed in a panel entitled “Hatch Waxman ANDA Cases and IPRs” by panelists James Harrington (Shire Pharmaceuticals) and (former) Judge Faith Hochberg (Hochberg ADR), moderated by James Lief (Cooley). Jennifer Moitoso (Shire Pharmaceuticals), Randall Morin (Translate Bio), and Satinder Rawat (MIT), discussed “IP Issues in Rare Diseases: Addressing the Unmet Need,” on a panel moderated by Patrick Waller (Wolf Greenfield). Ulrich Storz (Michaeski Huettermann) moderated a panel consisting of Gregory Cox (Eli Lilly & Co.) and Ben Doranz (Integral Molecular) who discussed “Live Functional Antibody Patents,” which focused on differences between European and U.S. claim scope for antibody claims. The question of “Are Your Pharmaceutical Patents at Risk” was addressed by a panel having MJ Edwards (Gilead Sciences), Justin Huddleson (sanofi) and Mary Till (USPTO) and moderated by Rob Sahr (Choate Hall & Stewart). European patent law was the topic of a panel entitled “Legal Certainty at an Affordable Price: The European Opposition Proceedings” by Klaus-Peter Dopfer (EPO), Ton Kowalski (Duane Morris) and Simon O’Brien (D. Young & Co.) moderated by Oskar Lechner, a European Patent Examiner. Finally, the recent controversy over assertion of sovereign immunity by Indian Tribes and state universities in IPR proceedings was discussed on a panel entitled “State Universities, Indian Tribes, and Biotech Patent Law,” the panel consisting of Carl Gulbrandsen (WARF), Terry Stanek Rea (Crowell & Moring), Melody McCoy (Native American Rights Fund) and Kevin E. Noonan (MBHB), moderated by Randy Kubetin of Bloomberg Law.
Keynote addresses were both more personal and policy-driven this year: the first keynote of the meeting was given by Robin Roberts, host of Good Morning America and a cancer survivor. Another keynote was by actor and activist Rob Reiner, who spoke about addiction. There were also a number of “fireside chats,” more informal presentations by industry leaders (including Jay Bradner/Novartis, Albert Bourla/Pfizer, Paul Stoffels/Johnson & Johnson); government officials (Scott Gottleib/FDA Commissioner) and philanthropists (Sue Desmond-Hellman and Penny Heaton/Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation).
BIO has also intensified the business portion of the Convention, particularly its “one-on-one” partnering event; this year there were almost 50,000 meetings, which BIO said was a 13% increase over 2017.
The next BIO International Convention will be held in Philadelphia from June 3-6, 2019.
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/.