"Certainly on the surface,
Participants and observers in the arcane world of patent law say it will take a while before they can gauge how the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and lower courts will interpret the ruling, which has already taken effect.
At first glance, they say it appears companies will have a tougher time defending patents, especially those related to incremental improvements on existing drugs, a practice known as patent life-cycle management.The Supreme Court ruling "will have a significant impact on the issue of patent life-cycle management," said Steven Ludwig, a partner in Venable LLP, a law firm whose clients include the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the trade association for big drug companies. "The standard has been lowered. It may be easier for generic companies to invalidate patents."