Key Points in Obtaining Patents for Functional Foods and Supplements
In the field of functional foods | supplements, the following points must be noted in comparison with other technical fields.
At our office, food health instructors specialize in food with health claims, food with nutrient function claims, food for specified health uses (FOSHU), food with function claims, food for special dietary uses, health supplement, Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Law (former Pharmaceutical Affairs Law), JAS Law, and Health Promotion Law. We have a wealth of knowledge in the fields of functional foods and supplements, such as the Food Labeling Act, Act on Premiums and Misleading Representations, Immunity, and Nutrition.
Therefore, we use our specialized knowledge to clarify the client’s invention and create a patented invention that cannot be imitated by other companies.
Revision of Examination Guidelines for Use Inventions of Foods
In the past, in the field of food, use inventions such as “for XX” were not permitted. For example, if the invention is “yogurt for suppressing body fat accumulation containing ingredient A as an active ingredient”, the part “for suppressing body fat accumulation” will not be considered in the examination, and the examination will be based on “yogurt containing ingredient A as an active ingredient”.
In this case, even if you later discover the use of “body fat accumulation suppression”, you will not be able to obtain the right.
As a result of this revision, the portion of the use of a food product will also be recognized as a matter specifying the invention, and it will be judged that it has novelty and inventive step as a use invention.
This will expand the possibility of obtaining patents for functional foods and supplements that emphasize their use, and will enable health claims on foods.
When obtaining patents for functional foods and supplements, it is necessary to clarify the active ingredients that contribute to their use.
By identifying the active ingredient, it is possible to determine whether or not the product is an infringing product by analyzing the food or supplement of another company.
To identify the active ingredients, we examine whether there is a scientific basis such as food experience, experience, academic papers, etc., and extract the active ingredients.
For active ingredients, it is necessary to examine the content, form, existence of similar compounds, etc., and prepare a specification.
Action and effect (use)
Since functional foods and supplements have effects (applications) associated with their active ingredients, it is necessary to specify the effects of the invention while considering the desired effects to be labeled.
Effects are an essential part of food labeling (health claims) and are directly linked to consumer interest and willingness to purchase.
By analyzing the supplement, it is possible to determine whether it is an infringing product. Actions and effects are identified in various experimental stages such as personal experience, mouse experiments, rat experiments, human intervention tests, etc. What stage of scientific evidence is patentable? We will examine whether the current scientific basis is sufficient and extract the effects.
Based on the experimental data, the specification must be prepared so as not to violate the enablement requirement.
Is the food already known?
When obtaining a patent for functional foods or supplements, it is necessary to confirm whether the subject foods are already known foods (publicly known foods).
Publicly known foods are not patentable, so even if a food has newly discovered active ingredients or effects, it cannot be patented as long as it is a publicly known food.
It is necessary to examine whether the food subject to the law is a publicly known food. This consideration is extremely important.