Howrey’s Lords patent win for Angiotech sets new IP precedent

Howrey’s burgeoning UK intellectual property (IP) practice has scored a valuable patent win for biotechnology ;client Angiotech against Conor Medsystems in the House of Lords.

The House of Lords ­judgment, led by Lord Hoffmann, will serve as a signifi­cant precedent in UK patent ­disputes and has made it easier for patent holders to defend their rights.

Angiotech’s win in the Lords comes after ­successive defeats in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

The decision will align the approach taken by UK courts with European courts on questions of obviousness and inventive step. The case centred on the patentability of a treatment for stenosis, which is the narrowing of arteries and blood vessels.

Life sciences partner Mark Hodgson was How­rey’s lead partner for Angiotech, taking the work with him from Taylor Wessing following his move last year.

“The Law Lords love good stories and there was a good story behind this case,” he said. “It was a rags-to-riches story for the four young Canadians who came up with the invention. The question of ­obviousness comes up in 99 per cent of patent cases, and this will be cited as a major ­precedent.”

Simmons & Simmons acted for Conor Medsystems, instructing Simon Thorley QC and Thomas Hinchcliffe of 3 New Square. Howrey instructed Andrew Waugh QC and Colin Birss, both of 3 New Square.