SPCs can extend the length of patent protection in relation to particular pharmaceutical products, both human and veterinary, as well as plant protection.
A patent application would normally be filed at the initial stages of research and because pharmaceutical products or plant protection products will undergo rigorous assessment and trials before a marketing authorisation is finally granted, there is a risk that the patent expires before the pharmaceutical or agricultural company has had time to make some return on its investment.
To compensate for the short effective life of a patent in this sector, European jurisdictions have provisions for supplementary protection certificates, which can extend the period of protection of a pharmaceutical or plant protection product for up to 5 years (or up to 5.5 years for paediatric drugs). This extension is a considerable asset, especially when relating to blockbuster drugs generating significant profits. In many other countries, different ways of patent term extension serve the same goal.
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