Introduction to Patent laws and Millipore patents on lab water cartridges

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Source: RephiLe Bioscience, Ltd

Patent laws are a very complicated matter. There are some basic rules that are universal under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). A PCT application does not itself result in the grant of a patent, since there is no such thing as an 'international patent', and the grant of patent is a prerogative of each national or regional authority. A Patent is only valid and protected in the country where it is granted by the local patent office, not protected outside its filing countries. For example, a patent approved in the US is valid only in the US, not valid in Canada, Mexico or any other countries.  

Under the treaty, a patent is not allowed to be filed again in a new country 12-18 months after its initial filing date. For example, a patent filled in January 2002 in the US is not allowed to be filed in China after July 2003.

In the case for Merck Millipore, its patents are typically filed in the US, European Patent Organization countries, Japan, and sometimes China.

Merck Millipore has one patent related to lab water consumable holder and one licensed RFID patent.

1. US patent No. 7578936 (a.k.a. WO2004/028661, EU1542782), System comprising fluid treatment module and a support structure, filled 2003 for a consumable supporting arm for the Smart range and the right side arm in the Advantage range systems.

With the support arm, Merck Millipore believes that it also covers consumables mounted onto it and there are several consumables related to this support arm. The following are examples of consumables that are protected in certain countries under the US Patent No. 7578936 filing:

PR0G000T3; QTUM0TEX1; QTUM0TIX1; SIPK0SIA1; SIPK0SIX2; SYPK0SIA1; SYPK0SIX2

 2. A licensed patent regarding RFID tag on consumable, granted limited use of the tag by Millipore to Biopharm applications. This patent was filed in 1994 and expires March 2014.

Merck Millipore does not have any other valid patent related to lab water cartridges.

Patents are valid and protected in countries where they are approved. A company is not allowed to claim protection of a patent where a patent is not granted. This particular patent is only valid in some European countries, Japan and China, and a limited version in the US.

Generic consumables are a common practice to give customers a choice. A well known example is the generic printer ink consumable model. Same principle applies with generic consumables for lab water system. Some companies, such as Siemens (US Filter, Ionpure, now called Evoqua), Pall and Thermo Fisher have all been selling generic consumables for Millipore systems for the last 20 years.

Such generic products, as well as RephiLe products, are tested and validated by sophisticated and calibrated meters and sensors on Millipore systems. If RephiLe's cartridges do not perform up to the standards set by Millipore, the system will show alarms. RephiLe products all have gone through strict validation process to make sure that they perfectly fit and operate on Millipore systems, and produce the water quality as that from Millipore consumables.

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