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The identification of polymorphic crystalline forms of compounds is an important part of pharmaceutical development. Different polymorphs can have strikingly different properties, often leading to certain crystalline forms being particularly well-suited to formulation for use as a medicine. Patents protecting those preferred crystalline forms can be of significant commercial importance.

There are challenges associated with obtaining patent protection for polymorphs or crystalline forms of organic compounds. However, with careful drafting and awareness of the varied approaches to the assessment of polymorphs by different patent offices, it is possible to build patent portfolios protecting this commercially significant subject-matter.

We have extensive experience in the drafting and prosecution of patent applications for inventions relating to polymorphs of compounds, as well as defence of European patents in this subject-matter area at the European Patent Office (EPO). We advise on the best approach for seeking patent protection for polymorphs, taking account of the particular issues faced by such inventions, including definition of the crystalline form, the risk of inherent anticipation, and the requirements of inventive step.