Abinaya Ma’am has been a registered patent agent for over 9 years after completing her education in Biotechnology. She is also an active member of LLB-School which is an online organization that primarily aims to connect students and active researchers all over the globe from Biology, Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, and its allied sciences. You can reach out to them LLB-School on https://www.llbschool.org/join-our-vision.

It was a pleasure interviewing ma’am and discussing the various unconventional career options available to students with a Biotechnology degree. Read her responses below!

1. You are currently working as a senior patent analyst in India. What are your responsibilities?

As a senior patent analyst, I am mainly involved in strategizing and training team members in conducting comprehensive prior art searches, EoU analysis, and Competitor & Market analysis as per the customer requirements. One of my prime responsibilities is to monitor and maintain the quality of work and to deliver the reports on time. Meeting with the inventors or customers and assisting them with the IP aspect in relation to their technology.

2. With an academic background in Biotechnology, you headed to become a registered patent agent with IPO. How does your biotechnology knowledge help you in this career?

IPR is the combination of technology and law. As per India Patent Act 1970, in order to become a registered patent agent in India, a degree in law is not required. Instead, a degree in science, engineering or technology is must. Thus, my academic background in Biotechnology opened the way for me to enter into IPR career. In the era of IoT, rate of adaptation of technology is rapid and the companies are developing innovative technology to meet the competitive market demand. As an IPR professional, I have to create IP strategies to help companies/inventors to protect and to analyze the risk involved in developing the innovative technologies. For that, a thorough understanding of technology is required to meet their requirements. Which is where, my Biotech knowledge plays a key role.

3. Biotech products like biologics are complex and the process to make them is tedious. What provision does Indian Patent Law have to deal with such products and processes?

Biotechnology invention helps to improve the standards of living of humans- from disease treatment to restoring the environment. Biotech R&D facilities in India is not are advanced as in western countries and hence the biotech patent protection law in Indian Patent Office isn’t as stringent. However, India is a global player in the pharmaceutical industry with over 70% market share in generic drug market globally.
However, Section 3 of Indian Patent Act covers several clauses to define what is not patentable. Section 3d is the most controversial provision in grating patent for biotech and pharma inventions.
Section 3d read as follows,

“(d) The mere discovery of a new form of a known substance which does not result in the enhancement of the known efficacy of that substance or the mere discovery of any new property or new use for a known substance or of the mere use of a known process, machine or apparatus unless such known process results in a new product or employs at least one new reactant
Explanation. —For the purposes of this clause, salts, esters, ethers, polymorphs, metabolites, pure form, particle size, isomers, mixtures of isomers, complexes, combinations and other derivatives of known substance shall be considered to be the same substance, unless they differ significantly in properties with regard to efficacy”

Based on the above provision any substance or its derivatives, which does not show enhanced efficacy, compared to the prior art is not patentable. Additionally, since there is no proper definition for “enhanced efficacy”, it creates confusion on determining the patentability criteria of biotech and pharma inventions.
Even though the current patent law is quite unfavorable to biotech inventions, in the forthcoming years we expect to have a rapid growth in biotech invention in India. This might influence the government to refine the patent law in favor for biotech and pharma industries.

4. WHO launched a voluntary covid-19 product pool-to collect patent rights, regulatory test data, and other information that could be shared for developing drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics to combat Covid-19. What do you think is the impact of such a decision on companies and their economies?

The idea of patent pooling Covid-19 related invention is a great initiative by WHO that would increase the production and availability of vaccines in middle and low-income countries. Here, patent pool means an agreement between the patent holders to license their product to each other or any other third party. This indeed speeds up the production process of vaccines due to access of information and technology know-how between the manufactures, reducing the overall cost of vaccine.

Patent pool is very popular among the electronic industries especially in mobile technology, as in most scenarios two companies come up with same idea and therefore pool agreement helps the companies to exclude litigation and enable launch the product. However, in case of medical patent pool the scenario is different. The IP strength of each pharma company is different; we cannot expect an equal amount of technology or knowledge sharing between these companies. Time, expense and technology strength of one company might be higher compared to the other company and hence, the process of pooling would eventually lead to the loss of profit for the company with high IP strength. Further, the anti-trust between the companies is another reason pharma companies do not encourage the patent pools. Knowledge sharing might open a way for generic drug production.

5. Are there any opportunities for students with respect to intellectual property in India? (Internships, Jobs, Career guidance) What unconventional (academia and industry) career paths are available for students after completing their education in Biotechnology?

We can see an increased job opening in IPR in recent days. Most of the western countries are outsourcing IPR project to India that have led to an increase in IP career opportunities and India has also became a hub for IPR startups.
Internships is a great way to understand the various job profiles in IP-patent analyst, patent drafter, paralegal, illustrator etc. Further, student can pursue law degree in IPR, offered by Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur or can undergo a postgraduate diploma course in IPR. They can even become a registered patent agent in India by clearing patent agent examination conducted by IPO.
After completing Biotechnology, students can explore unconventional options in IPR, Market Research, Data analyst, Business Management, Biocuration, Health Information Management (HIM) such as Medical coding and Medical writing, and Clinical research involving SAS programming as well.

6. You are also an active member of LLB-School. Tell us about what LLB-School is and your role in it?

Lets Learn BioIT SCHOOL is an online organization that primarily aims to connect students and active researchers all over the globe from Biology, Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, and its allied sciences. This involves conducting e-events such as webinars, workshops, internships, e- conferences, and short hands- on session of Biology and its informatics associated pipelines. With the objectives mentioned earlier, LLB has successfully conducted 90+ free webinars in association with CPMB, TNAU, and average of 300+ participants of each webinar session across India and researchers globally. In addition, LLB also conducted 3 days national e-Conference emphasized on “The vaccine development of Covid-19” in association with VIGNANs Biotech Institute, AP, India.

We recently launched a common platform named Futura https://www.llbschool.org/futura where any life science students and research professionals can find their Bio IT Experts, Collaborators, Courses and Tutors for their research work. In addition, we provide One-To-One counseling service for students to directly discuss with experts about their career. The applications for Futura services are open now for experts in Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Intellectual Property Rights, Environmental Science, Health Information Management (HIM), Clinical Research, Agriculture and other Bio IT fields.
My role in LLB School is to form a community (LLB-IPR) of IPR professional; to create awareness among students and life science professionals about IPR and its importance.

7. How can students approach LLB-School platform and how is it distinguished from other platforms and institutes?

You can find us on https://www.llbschool.org/join-our-vision. Besides, we also have a very active Telegram and Facebook page to help the community through our discussion forums with Biology, Biotechnology and Bioinformatics queries.
We believe that our LLB-SCHOOL stands unique from others with our objectives “Bringing together the Biology, Biotechnology and Bioinformatics experts of today and tomorrow”. We have embraced a diversity of backgrounds and our members- our students come from undergraduate, Post Graduate, PhD and Post Doctorate level. We are also very fortunate to have many faculty scientist and professors as members. Lastly, we believe that all this support comes because of the quality of content that has been offered without any fee.

Further as mentioned earlier, we have communities in IPR, Bioinfo, Biotech, Environment and Health Information Management. You can learn more about these on https://linktr.ee/llbschool

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