Mass High Tech today picked up on a theme that is being increasingly bandied about now that biosimilars are becoming a reality in the US -- that being companies may eschew patents in favor of keeping intellectual property information as 'trade secrets'.
The concept is that biosimlars rely much more on production processes as a critical feature to produce the reference molecule -- which a biosimilar maker would like to be able to match or certainly know about in detail. Patents on processes typically can require disclosure of detailed information that would make "copying" the process or more to the point designing around its patent claims more easily accomplished.
Trade secrets on the other hand -- are well -- secret. There is no public disclosure and if you keep your mouth shut (your company's collective mouth shut), you can keep the secret for an eternity in theory. Patents of course have a finite lifespan of 20 years.
The upshot is that many innovator (or biobetter) companies may now be concluding that to protect themsleves from the expected biosimilar onslaught, they should simply stay quiet on their processes. The "don't ask don't tell" version of the biosimilar world.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Feb 16th 2012.