Drug makers continue disputes about patents

Glenn W. Peterson

Companies have good reason to be concerned about protecting their intellectual property. It is often essential to their success in the marketplace and to retaining key competitive advantages. Defending a trademark, patent or copyright is not always an easy thing to do, however. Even when a legal decision initially seems to favor one company’s position, that does not mean the dispute is fully resolved.

An example of this can be seen in the pharmaceutical world as two drug makers, Merck and Gilead, have been at odds with each other over patents concerning drugs for the treatment of hepatitis C. In two separate cases, Gilead has been successful in overturning verdicts and awards originally made in favor of Merck. One of these involves an award totalling more than $2.54 billion and the other involved an award of $200 million.

In the latter case, an appeals court judge indicated that an attorney and scientist at Merck had displayed a “pattern of misconduct” that contributed to the eventual decision. Reports suggest that the attorney not only lied about facts but worked to cover up the lies over the course of time. In the former case, what is referred to as the enablement requirement was involved in the final decision.

Businesses that find themselves needing to defend their rights to any form of intellectual property might find it helpful to talk with an attorney in California who can help them best identify the appropriate course of action.

Source: FiercePharma, “Merck lawyer’s misdeeds tainted Gilead patent fight, court rules – and cost the company $200M,” Eric Sagonowsky, April 27, 2018