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Conor Medsystems Inc v Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc [2008] UKHL 49

Case Summary  |  Judgment  |   9 July 2008


In Conor v. Angiotech, the House of Lords had to consider the validity of a patent claim to a device (a stent coated with taxol) said to be useful in treatment of a certain medical condition (restenosis). The description of the patent did not show that the device was in fact useful in treatment of that condition, but contained assay data showing that taxol had a certain physiological property (preventing growth of blood vessels) which the patent claimed was linked to utility in treating restenosis. The High Court and the Court of Appeal had both held the claim to be obvious, essentially because the teaching of the patent was, in their view, no more than a suggestion that a taxol-coated stent might be useful to treat restenosis. The House of Lords disagreed, saying that so long as a patent contains enough information to make the claimed invention plausible, the obviousness of the claimed invention should not depend on the amount of evidence presented to indicate that the invention will work. This was, like Halliburton v. Smith, a case where the patentee had settled with its opponent but wished to have its patent restored on appeal. At the invitation of the House of Lords, the Comptroller General of Patents instructed Michael Tappin and Jessie Bowhill to make submissions to counter those of the patentee during the hearing in January 2009.