Big Tech vs Big Pharma: the battle over US patent protection

Critics fear Silicon Valley lobbying has weakened the defence of intellectual property and sapped innovation.

Sherry Knowles has a very personal interest in defending intellectual property — she believes it saved her life. Ms Knowles, herself a patent lawyer, fears that the treatment that helped her combat breast cancer, a medicine known as Adriamycin, would not have been produced if the tighter patent regulations introduced over the past decade had been in place when she fell ill.

As a former chief patent counsel at GlaxoSmithKline, Ms Knowles, who runs her own life sciences legal consulting firm, has a vested interest in defending IP laws. She knows that major pharmaceutical groups like GSK can only monetize new drugs based on their ability to patent innovations.

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