Novartis Seeks Reversal of U.K. Ruling on Contact Lens Patent in J&J Case

Novartis AG’s Ciba Vision unit asked a U.K. appeals court to reverse a ruling in an infringement lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson that its European patent for extended-wear contact lenses is invalid.

Novartis argued at the Court of Appeal in London today that judges in the Netherlands and France had also considered the same patent and arrived at different conclusions than the U.K. court, which found the patent invalid due to “insufficient” disclosure.

“Only in the United Kingdom has this patent been found to be insufficient,” Novartis’s lawyer, Andrew Waugh of the firm Three New Square in London, said at the hearing. The U.K. judgment “is out on a limb.”

Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland, sued in May 2007 claiming that J&J’s Acuvue Oasys lenses violate the patent by using similar chemicals. J&J, the world’s biggest maker of contact lenses, began selling Oasys in February 2005. Lawsuits over the same lenses have also been filed in the U.S.

J&J, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, argued in the U.K. appeal that Novartis’s patent covers too much technology.

“A claim of such breadth is, on its face, vulnerable to the allegations that it is either obvious or insufficient,” the company’s lawyer, Simon Thorley also of Three New Square, said in court papers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net.

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