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It’s not that Mark Bosse hates dog and pony shows. He just becomes irritated when a law firm seeking his business is clueless about Gilead Sciences. Bosse is vice president-intellectual property for Gilead, a small Foster City, Calif.-based pharmaceutical company that makes some well-known anti-AIDS drugs. In the past year, Bosse says, two large “brand-name” law firms have pitched him their ability to prosecute biotechnology patents — a technology area “we dropped ten years ago.” (He declined to name the firms.) One couldn’t even identify Viread, Gilead’s best-known product, an AIDS drug on the market since 2002. Bosse isn’t in a hurry to bring in new counsel. He has a regular roster of outside lawyers he’s known for a long time, including David Marsh, a partner at Washington, D.C.’s Arnold & Porter; Robert Harris, a partner at Minneapolis’ Schwegman, Lundberg, Woessner & Kluth; Ann Caviani-Pease, partner in the Palo Alto, Calif., office of Dorsey & Whitney; and Peter Riedl of Munich’s Reitst�tter, Kinzebach & Partner. Anne Peck, a partner at Cooley Godward registers Gilead’s trademarks worldwide. Bosse met Harris and Caviani-Pease at the University of California at Berkeley, where all three were working on doctorates in organic chemistry. Marsh, Bosse says, is the big-picture international IP guy, someone who can “talk about IP at the 50,000-foot level.” And he deals directly with Riedl for Gilead’s European patents. Bosse acknowledges that it’s difficult for outside firms — and large pharmaceutical companies — to get a good fix on Gilead. For the first five years of its 17-year existence, the company did classic biotech work, seeking a way to turn off the body’s disease-causing genes. But then Gilead shifted its focus to anti-viral drugs. The change kick-started the business. Today Gilead markets three anti-AIDS drugs; the influenza drug Tamiflu; Hepsera, used to treat hepatitis B; and other drugs. The company has more than 120 patents, and had over $1 billion in sales last year. In August, Gilead received FDA approval for Truvada, which combines several different AIDS drugs in a single-dose pill. That same month Gilead announced that Truvada would be available in 68 countries — including all of Africa — at cost. Selling drugs at cost in developing nations is Gilead’s standard policy. “There’s a desperate moral need to get the drugs to 30 million people,” Bosse says. He adds that poor countries that can’t afford AIDS drugs will alter their IP law so they can copy the product, import copies from other countries at will, or force Gilead to license the drug. Such changes would discourage any pharma company from entering that country to sell products. “Offering drugs to treat HIV is very different from offering a drug like Viagra,” says Bosse. “We have to be flexible at this point in time.” So far, Bosse says, the company hasn’t had a problem with unauthorized imports of its drugs into the United States. Gilead hasn’t had much of problem with patent litigation, either. The company’s only patent suit was brought in 1998 by Chiron Corp. over treatments Gilead was developing for hepatitis C. The companies settled in 1999, after Gilead acknowledged infringement, and made an undisclosed lump-sum payment to Chiron. Leora Ben-Ami, then of Rogers & Wells, represented Gilead. Bosse and one part-time and two in-house lawyers prosecute virtually all of Gilead’s patents in-house. Last year, Bosse himself wrote 200 of the 400 patent applications that Gilead sent to the Patent and Trademark Office. Many patent prosecutors in the biotech and pharmaceutical arenas complain about delays processing applications at the PTO, but Gilead has a tactic that addresses the problem. Whenever the company has a large number of patents to file, Bosse says, “we contact PTO management and collect the examiners together. We talk about the technology and brief them on the status of our filings. At that point, things move along fine.” Bosse says he’s sure his elementary school teachers would be astonished at all the writing he’s done — given that he was a special-ed student who couldn’t even read until he was in seventh grade. But once his dyslexia was addressed, Bosse discovered his passion for science. He majored in organic chemistry at Lewis and Clark College, and after finishing in 1981, he headed off to graduate school. Bosse took a job as a bench scientist with Germany’s Henkel Research Corp.’s lab in Santa Rosa, Calif., after he was awarded his Ph.D. in 1986. At that time, Henkel — Germany’s leading soap maker — was in an expansion cycle, acquiring $1 billion worth of U.S. companies in the three years Bosse worked there. Bosse says that he was drawn to IP portfolio analysis of the acquired companies. As a scientist, he says, “I couldn’t make things fast enough, but in IP, I was great.” Inspired, Bosse started law school at night at San Francisco’s Golden Gate University, making the 108-mile round trip after work. Halfway through law school, Henkel closed its U.S. labs, so Bosse shortened his commute by moving to Silicon Valley to work as a patent agent for Syntex Corp. He received his law degree in 1992, and joined Gilead a year later as a patent attorney. Bosse is picky about hiring in-house lawyers, but the pace of patent prosecution means he’s looking for help, preferably from bench scientists who want to make a transition to the law. He figures that they’re more likely to understand just what kind of business Gilead is in.

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