AstraZeneca banks on patent lawyers for growth

AstraZeneca is extending the reach of its legal team as it hunts for litigators to inspect the patents of acquisition targets in order to find weaknesses in their IP portfolios. The company is currently restructuring its legal group and appointing a new general counsel for subsidiary Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT).

AstraZeneca wants to buy up smaller patent-owning companies to boost its drug pipeline. The plan is key to AstraZeneca’s business strategy.

Andrew Farquharson, director of biotech patents at AstraZeneca, said: “We’re looking at some external law firms to advise on this. It’s normal practice to look at the patents.”

Meanwhile, CAT, one of AstraZeneca’s biggest acquisitions of 2006, has restructured its legal team. General counsel Diane Mellett has left, to be replaced by former AstraZeneca senior counsel Adrian Kemp.