Case Law: A Review of Selected Pharmaceutical Patents in the UK Courts During 2020


Patents lie at the interface between technology and law. This article provides a critical review of four high profile cases from 2020 in which patents relating to pharmaceuticals were litigated in the UK Courts. The selected cases in this review involved ‘sufficiency’, ‘novelty’, ‘inventiveness’, ‘plausibility’ and ‘infringement issues. The first case is a dispute between Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Kymab Ltd in relation to Regeneron’s patent for a transgenic mouse platform. The second case relates to Pfizer’s patent for their Prevnar®13 pneumococcal vaccine and the alleged infringement of this patent by Merck Sharp & Dohme. The third case concerns the validity of a patent belonging to Neurim Pharmaceuticals Ltd relating to a slow-release formulation of melatonin for treating primary insomnia. The final case is a dispute between FibroGen Inc. and Akebia Therapeutics concerning FibroGen’s patents for hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl hydroxylase enzyme inhibitors (“HIF-PHIs”) for use in treating anaemia. The article aims to focus on the technology behind the patents and to provide an insight into how science interacts with law in the context of patent enforcement and infringement. 


patent, novelty, inventive step, sufficiency, infringement, antibodies, melatonin, vaccines, anaemia

How to Cite

Crawford, S., O'Brien, H. M. & Stones, J. A., (2021) “Case Law: A Review of Selected Pharmaceutical Patents in the UK Courts During 2020”, British Journal of Pharmacy 6(1). doi:







Sarah-Jane Crawford (Beck Greener LLP)
Harry Melville O'Brien orcid logo (Beck Greener LLP)
James Alexander Stones (Beck Greener LLP)





Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Competing Interests

Harry M. O’Brien is a trainee patent attorney, Sarah Jane Crawford an associate and James A. Stones a partner at Beck Greener LLP, a London based firm of Chartered and European Patent and Trade Mark attorneys. This article does not constitute legal advice on any specific issues. For any specific matters, a personalised advice should always be sought from a licensed attorney.


Peer Review

This article has been peer reviewed.

File Checksums (MD5)

  • Full text: 900e2c8785946a6e966bc704083bffa6