Here's a new way to help Fido live longer - with a little help from another dog

By Elaine M. Ramesh In , Posted 

US20160002590 entitled "Canine Probiotic Lactobacilli" is a patent application publication that issued January 7 describes a method to reduce the effects of aging in companion animals by orally administering lactic acid bacteria.   The bacteria are obtained by isolation from resected and washed canine gastrointestinal tract and are said to beneficially adhere to the GI tract of the patient animal and modulate that animal's immune system via direct interaction with the mucosal epithelium.  The isolated bacteria may be fed to the patient animal in wet food, dry food or in supplements.

 Example 1 indicates that the source of the useful Lactobacilli is canine intestinal samples obtained from healthy, disease-free dogs presented to local veterinarians for owner initiated and owner approved euthanasia. 

The publication discloses strains of Lactobacilli of specified sequences, and claims priority to a provisional application filed in 2003.    Also in the same family of applications is U.S. Patent No. 8,894,991.  It issued last November, and is directed to four isolated Lactobacillus murinus strains.  

The issued patent was originally assigned to The Iams Company.    However, the patent changed ownership in December 2015 and is now owned by Mars Incorporated, following Mars' 2014 acquisition of the IAMS, EUKANUBA and NATURA brands from The Proctor & Gamble Co.  Mars Petcare is the largest business for Mars Incorporated, and is the owner of 35 pet-related brands.

The parent '991 patent was under prosecution for ten years.   The patent received a Patent Term Adjustment due to lengthy delays.  A total of 1941 days were awarded.   However, since Terminal Disclaimers were filed during the course of prosecution, the benefit of the term adjustment was forfeited, and the life of this patent is shorter than might otherwise have been expected, having only about a ten-year term.   

The pending patent application will also suffer indirectly from the delays in the prosecution for the parent application.   Though not filed until 2014, an issuing patent from this application will have a 20-year term calculated from the the filing date of the parent application in 2004.     If a patent were to issue within three years and no Terminal Disclaimers were filed, the patent may likely only have seven years of life.

Beneficial treatments for animals could be brought to market, given the incentive of patent protection.  When patent protection is short lived, less patent protection time is awarded to those discoveries, creating a dis-incentive to invest R&D dollars in such treatments for animals. Not only does a patent owner lose out on the full monopoly awarded for the invention, but in addition, the animals lose out if less time and/or money is invested in putting such solutions into the market. 

Careful consideration of the timings of follow-on filings in patent prosecution is important for maximization of the period of enforceability of a patent.   Flener IP Law attorneys are well-versed in patent lifecycle management and can advise you on appropriate strategies for your portfolio.