What is this site?
The Patent Opposition Database is a project of the Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign. It provides support and resources for those wanting to challenge patents on medicines. It was created under a UNITAID grant in support of the endTB project http://www.endtb.org/
In short, patents tend to drive up the prices of medicines, making them unaffordable to those who need them most.
When pharmaceutical companies develop a new drug, they pursue a patent, which -if granted - gives them the exclusive right to make and sell that drug for the next 20 years.
This prevents other producers from making their own versions, and means the patent-holding company can charge high prices without the risk of competition.
But many medicines protected by patents are not truly ‘new’: a company might make small tweaks, such as changing a medicine from a powder to a pill, or adjusting the ingredients slightly to extend their patent and carry on cornering the market.
Added to which, patent laws are complex, and they are not always properly applied. Most of the patent laws in the world include procedures, in one way or another, that allow people to challenge undeserved applications and patents, in order to prevent or correct mistakes that might be made by the patent offices.
Challenging patent decisions can overturn them, and medicines will become more affordable to all. Patent applications can also be challenged, and some of them will not be granted a patent in the first place.
While challenging patent and applications is legal, understanding a patent application and the various tactics used by pharmaceutical corporations to build them requires technical expertise, which can be difficult to find.
Fortunately, past experience shows that this difficulty can be overcome, and a successful system of patent opposition can be promoted by collaboration between different parties. Arguments can be replicated, documents can be shared and new alliances can be built between interested parties all over the world. This website was created to be a hub of collaboration and a platform for collective action.
We've made this short video which helps explain evergreening in more detail:
Who can use the Patent Opposition Database?
You might be from a civil society organisation or NGO with a particular interest in making certain medicines more affordable; you might be a lawyer, a researcher, a health professional - or even a market competitor.
Or you might just be an individual with an interest in doing something for the common good.
For that reason, we’ve tried to make this site as simple as possible so a layperson can use it — but if you find anything confusing or difficult, please do suggest changes.
What can I do on the Patent Opposition Database?
Learn how to file a patent opposition
Our tutorial takes you through the various stages of filing an opposition.
It explains the various ways that you may be able to oppose patents, and the experts you will need to identify to construct your case.
It also describes the four-step process you will need to take before building your arguments for opposing a patent.
The site contains a wealth of information on existing patent oppositions, patent applications, patent office decisions, court cases and other vital documents that will inform your own preparation for filing an opposition.
We aim to make it much easier for you to file your own opposition by sharing these resources and the experience of other users.
Submit documents for inclusion in the database
Have you been through the process of challenging a patent? If so, your experience will be very useful to the global community.
You can contribute patent applications and oppositions; prior art (arguments used in your case, whether or not they were successful); documents from court cases; patent office decisions; legislation, or the results of patent searches.
You may also wish to upload relevant literature.
Note: documents may be submitted anonymously. However, we encourage you to include contact information if possible, so we can contact you if we have any questions regarding your submission.
Why Oppose Patents?
Patents are by no means the only barrier to accessing life-saving medicines, but they play a significant role in blocking generic competition from competitors. Experience shows that bringing generics to market is the most sustainable way of lowering the price of medicines.
Does it work?
Take a look at our case studies to read about some successful patent oppositions.