Sustaining Our Intellectual Property
Intellectual property law provides incentives for innovative pharmaceutical research, and this research benefits patients by establishing the basis for approval of important new treatment for diseases. By pursuing these incentives, Bristol-Myers Squibb fulfills its obligations to its stockholders, and, at the same time, advances the company's mission to extend and enhance human life. It is important that, in making decisions on intellectual property matters, we keep these dual objectives in mind. It is entirely appropriate for the company to seek and secure rights to its employees' inventions. Also, in order to offer physicians and patients a wider variety of therapies, we can and should license the inventions of others. Finally, the company is entitled to own the data that we generate about our medicines.
In evaluating what intellectual property rights to seek and how to enforce them, Bristol-Myers Squibb will consider the following criteria:
- The extent to which the invention or research contributes significantly to the improvement of patient care (e.g., greater safety, efficacy, comfort and convenience, etc.).
- The extent to which the invention or research improves the quality or efficiency of the manufacturing process.
- Whether the invention improves the research process itself (e.g., allows us to screen or evaluate more potential new medicines).
- Whether the invention or research can provide a return on investment, and whether the intellectual property rights sought would benefit the shareholders.
- Whether the invention or research can provide valuable new information on how better to use existing products to benefit patients (e.g., new uses for medicines).
- In circumstances in which patients may not be able to obtain adequate access to our products (e.g., in the poorest countries), whether any intellectual property rights obtained should be licensed to others and/or product should be made available by the company at a reduced price.
At the same time, in deciding how to exercise our legitimate intellectual property rights, the company will consider all aspects of our company's Mission and Commitment. For example, we are committed to fair dealing and conscientious citizenship. This means that Bristol-Myers Squibb will seek to obtain intellectual property only by lawful and ethical means, and to enforce only those intellectual property rights that we believe to be valid. We will place the highest priority on obtaining intellectual property for those innovations that provide the greatest medical benefit to patients. And we stand by our series of initiatives – from our patient assistance programs to SECURE THE FUTURE® – to make Bristol-Myers Squibb medicines widely available to patients who cannot afford them.