Recent cases in the European Patent Office (EPO), the UK, and United States illustrate substantive differences between these jurisdictions as they continue to develop their inventive step/nonobviousness frameworks. In particular, the EPO and UK have recently provided guidance on a concept known as “plausibility,” i.e., whether the scope of the patent must be justified by the patentee’s technical contribution to the art in solving an identified problem. “If it is not plausible that the invention solves any technical problem then the patentee has made no technical contribution and the invention does not involve an inventive step.” Sandoz Limited v. Bristol-Meyers Squibb Holdings [2023] EWCA Civ 472. That standard, however, is quite dissimilar from the United States’ statutory standard of whether “the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious…”

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