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Medimmune Ltd v Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd [2012] EWCA Civ 1234.

Case Summary  |  Judgment  |  16 October 2012


Richard Meade QC recently appeared in the Court of Appeal in MedImmune Ltd v Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd [2012] EWCA Civ 1234. This case concerned the patentability of a technique called antibody phage display, which can be used to select antibody fragments that bind to specific antigens.
At trial, Arnold J held that the claimant’s patents were invalid on grounds of obviousness and because the claims were not entitled to priority from the relevant priority document. On appeal, Kitchin LJ (Lewison and Moore-Bick LJJ agreeing) upheld these findings and dismissed the appeal. The Court held that the trial judge made no error of principle in identifying the skilled addressee and concluding that the basic concept of phage display, although not in routine use, was part of the common general knowledge by the priority date.On the facts, the patented invention was obvious in light of a conference presentation previously given by a leading scientist in the field. The presentation depicted the essential features of the method, expressed optimism about its potential and concluded that it was worth pursuing.