February 2, 2017

Harnessing the Innovation of BioPharma

By Leanne M. Rakers, Principal

In this new series from Harness Dickey, leading attorneys share their thoughts on the forces driving innovation in intellectual property. Leanne Rakers, Chair of the firm’s BioPharma practice, discusses industry trends, what she is doing to protect her clients, and her own passion for providing innovative service. 

What new trends toward innovation are your clients seeing in 2017, and do they have any new goals pertaining to their intellectual property?

Our clients are focused on patent eligibility this year and, as a result, are pushing us to prepare patents and write claims with more certainty. This is a direct result of notable Supreme Court decisions like Mayo and Myriad, plus the often uncertain nature of Section 101 of the Patent Act, which many of our clients in the BioPharma space are hoping Congress will amend.

Within the industry, we are seeing a lot of innovation swirling around the relatively new area of personalized medicine – essentially tailoring treatment and diagnostics to individual patients based on indicators such as DNA. Myriad says that genes cannot be patented and Mayo presents challenges to diagnostic method claims, though, which may hamper innovation for new diagnostics. It shows why we need to keep a focused eye on writing those certain claims.

How is Harness Dickey providing innovative service to clients in this industry?

Our attorneys will be all over the map this year, attending a number of key industry conferences, such as BIO in San Diego, the IPO Annual Meeting in San Francisco, the Bio IP Counsels Committee meeting, and more. These conferences help us stay on top of the latest news, keep an eye on the competition, and, importantly, be there for our clients.

Outside of conferences, we make ourselves available to our clients all day, every day. We devote ourselves to learning their business, tracking their competitors, finding a billing model that works, and talking with them regularly to make sure they have everything they need. We travel frequently to see our clients in their offices around the globe. It doesn’t matter where they are. I go to Japan every year to meet with clients. Our IT team also makes sure we have all the latest tools so we can do webinars and video conferences whenever they are needed. Whatever, whenever and wherever, that’s the service motto for 2017.

What kinds of tools or resources is Harness Dickey using to provide innovative service to clients?

Clients have shown a lot of interest in HDConnect, our web portal that we build from scratch for each client. HDConnect allows clients to share key documents, see a snapshot of their IP portfolio, see where their assets are filed around the world, and more. It’s 100% secure and is available whenever they need it.

What are the current IP risks in the BioPharma industry and how is Harness Dickey helping clients overcome them?

For BioPharma, again, we are keeping a close eye on Section 101. There’s no shortage of litigation risk in the industry, which we do our best to minimize and avoid, but it often comes with the territory of making commercially available products. Perhaps the biggest risk right now, though, is 3D printing and the effect it will have on drug makers. The risk of infringement is very high. 3D printing is getting a lot of our attention right now.

What are the driving forces behind innovation in this industry?

Innovation is being driven by a need for better active agents, which is where the personalized medicines and the biologics are coming from. It’s an exciting time to be involved in BioPharma.

What drives you to provide innovative service?

I certainly have a strong interest in the field. I studied Microbiology at Penn State and worked as a scientist before going to law school, so I’m not shy about my love for science and the molecular biology involved in the industry. Working with our clients and seeing what’s in their pipeline motivates me every day to provide the best, most innovative service possible so that their IP stays protected and we can help treat people with their technology.