J&J Wins Appeal Over ‘Invalid’ Novartis Lens Patent

Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Acuvue brand contact lenses, won a U.K. appeals court ruling affirming that competitor Novartis AG’s European patent for extended-wear lenses is invalid.

The judgment against Novartis and its Ciba Vision unit was handed down today at the Court of Appeal in London. Novartis, Switzerland’s largest drugmaker, appealed after a lower court in July 2009 ruled its patent was “insufficient.”

The lower court “was entirely right to decide the patent was insufficient,” U.K. Court of Appeal Justice Robin Jacob wrote in the ruling. The patent is “nothing but a hazard to those conducting research into extended-wear contact lenses.”

Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland, sued in May 2007 over claims that J&J’s Acuvue Oasys lenses violate the patent by using similar chemicals. J&J, the world’s biggest health- products company, began selling Oasys in February 2005 through its Vision Care unit. Lawsuits over the same lenses have also been filed in the U.S.

Novartis argued that the lower court’s judgment was “out on a limb” because Dutch and French courts had considered the same patent and arrived at different conclusions. A three-judge panel at the appeals court today disagreed.

“Johnson & Johnson Vision Care is very pleased” that the court ruled that the patent “is completely invalid” in the U.K., spokesman Gary Esterow said in an interview.

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

An e-mail to Ciba Vision’s U.K. press office wasn’t immediately returned.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.