So let’s say you are a leading multinational pharmaceutical company and you have a blockbuster cancer drug. You patent the drug, make tremendous profits, but now the clock is ticking and the patent is set to expire. What do you do?
If you are Novartis and your blockbuster cancer drug is Gleevec you are going to engage in a common practice in the pharmaceutical industry – as well as other intellectual property dependent industries – known as evergreening. A few tweaks here, a few tweaks there, and voila reset the clock. The patent is back in effect and the money can keep rolling in. Why spend money on developing new drugs when you can spend just a fraction of that cost on legal bills defending your tweaked patent?