Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest maker of health-care products, was told by a jury to pay $482 million to a New Jersey doctor for infringing a patent on devices to prop open heart arteries.
J&J’s Cordis unit infringed Bruce Saffran’s patent 5,653,760, which covers a device used to treat damaged heart tissue, a federal jury in Marshall, Texas, said Jan. 28. Saffran, a Princeton radiologist, claimed the invention is used in heart stents, mesh tubes that are inserted into arteries following angioplasty.
The decision is the seventh-biggest patent verdict in U.S. history, just behind Saffran’s 2008 win against Boston Scientific Corp. over the same invention, according to Bloomberg data. Saffran in that case won a $500 million damage award, which was later settled for about $50 million during an appeal. J&J’s Cordis unit said it plans to challenge the verdict.
“This is contrary to both the law and the facts set forward in the case,” said Sandy Pound, a spokeswoman for Cordis. “We will ask the judge to overturn this verdict and if unsuccessful, we plan to appeal the verdict.”
In the trial before U.S. District Judge T. John Ward, Saffran claimed he was entitled to royalties from sales of J&J’s Cypher stents. He also has a patent-infringement case pending against Abbott Laboratories, in which a trial is scheduled for August 2012. Boston Scientific, Abbott and New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J together dominate the $4 billion-a-year global market for stents.
Saffran was represented by Eric M. Albritton and Debra Rochelle Coleman of the Albritton Law Firm of Longview, Texas; Kenneth W. Brothers, Gary M. Hoffman, Ryan Holbrook Flax, James W. Brady Jr., Paul R. Taskier, Jeremy Adam Cubert, Kimberly Parke and Danny Lloyd Williams of Washington’s Dickstein Shapiro LLP; and Matthew Richard Rodgers of Williams Morgan & Amerson PC in Houston.
The case is Saffran v. Johnson & Johnson, 2:07-cv-000451- TJW, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).
Daimler Celebrates Patent’s Anniversary by Giving Bonuses
Daimler AG is marking the 125th anniversary of the registration of the first patent for a “vehicle with gas engine drive” by giving its employees a bonus of 125 million euros ($170 million), the Stuttgart, Germany based company said in a statement.
Carl Benz received the patent for a gas-fueled vehicle from the Berlin Patent Office on Jan. 29, 1886. The initial car had only three wheels.
Each eligible Daimler employee will receive a bonus of 3,150 euros, according to the statement.
Novartis Sues AstraZeneca, Two Others Over Patent
Novartis AG’s vaccines unit sued AstraZeneca Plc’s MedImmune subsidiary, Biogen Idec Inc. and Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc., alleging some drugs they make infringe a 1997 U.S. patent for diagnostic gene sequences.
The complaint, filed Jan. 26 in federal court in Delaware, targets AstraZeneca’s Synagis respiratory treatment; Biogen’s Tysabri for multiple sclerosis; and Alexion’s Soliris, used to treat a life-threatening form of anemia.
Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland, acquired the patent when it purchased Chiron Corp. in April 2006, according to the complaint.
“Biogen believes the claims are without merit and we’re prepared to vigorously defend our position,” Christina Chan, a spokeswoman for the Weston, Massachusetts-based company, said Jan. 28 by telephone.
Karen Lancaster, a MedImmune spokeswoman, said the company is still reviewing the complaint and had no comment. Irving Adler, a spokesman for Alexion, didn’t immediately respond to a voice-mail message.
AstraZeneca’s Synagis is designed to prevent respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV. AstraZeneca’s patent on the drug, which it acquired in 2007 through the purchase of MedImmune, expires in 2015.
Biogen’s Tysabri is one of the company’s fastest-growing drugs. The multiple sclerosis treatment, which generated $1.1 billion in sales in 2009, competes with Novartis’s MS pill Gilenya.
Alexion’s Soliris is a treatment for chronic red-blood-cell destruction and reduces the need for transfusions. The medicine was approved in the U.S. and the European Union in 2007 as a treatment for patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, a life-threatening blood disease.
The case is Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics Inc. v. MedImmune LLC, 11-00084, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
Dr. Reddy’s Wins Case Over Copy of Sanofi’s Allegra
Sanofi-Aventis SA, maker of the Allegra-D 24 allergy medicine, lost a court ruling in its challenge to a plan by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. to sell a generic version of the drug.
Sanofi conceded in a court filing Jan. 28 that based on an interpretation by a district judge in Newark, New Jersey, the copy wouldn’t infringe a patent owned by partner Albany Molecular Research Inc. Paris-based Sanofi said it will appeal the judge’s ruling on the definition of terms in the patent.
Allegra, in all forms, accounted for about $619 million in revenue in the first nine months of last year for Sanofi, France’s biggest drugmaker. Dr. Reddy’s, India’s second-biggest drugmaker, was precluded in June from selling a generic version of the extended-release form of Allegra-D in the U.S. until a trial could be held. The company can now enter the market.
U.S. District Judge Garrett Brown issued his interpretation of the disputed patent -- 7,390,906 -- earlier this month. Sanofi and Albany Molecular “cannot carry their burden of proving infringement” based on the judge’s ruling, the companies said in the filing.
His interpretation, known as a Markman opinion, was filed under seal Jan. 13. Sanofi can challenge this interpretation at a Washington-based appeals court that hears patent cases.
“The filing of this stipulation does not represent a final outcome in the ongoing patent litigation,” Sanofi said in an e- mail Jan. 28. The company “will continue to vigorously defend its intellectual property rights.”
Albany Molecular, based in Albany, New York, reported in November that it received $26.9 million in Allegra patent royalties in the first nine months of last year, about 18 percent of total company revenue.
The case is Albany Molecular Research Inc. v. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., 2:09-cv-04638-GEB-MCA, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).
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Biden Calls IP Rights Essential to Nurturing Innovation
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said the Obama administration’s effort to nurture innovation as a path to economic growth includes protecting intellectual property rights.
The administration “is deeply committed” to making sure creative ideas and products “reach their full potential without being stolen, co-opted or, quite frankly, compromised,” Biden said in Washington before a Jan. 28 meeting that included motion picture and pharmaceutical executives.
President Barack Obama made innovation and research a key part of his State of the Union address last week. He also listed the protection of intellectual property rights among his concerns during the official state visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao Jan. 19.
“We believe there is no reason why the United States cannot remain the most powerful economic force of the 21st century” with new industries created by investment in innovation and education, Biden said.
Executives at the meeting included Verizon Communications Inc. Chairman Ivan Seidenberg, MasterCard Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ajay Banga, Eli Lilly & Co. Chief Executive Officer John Leichleiter and Fox Filmed Entertainment Co-Chairman Thomas Rothman.
The executives were joined by administration officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew, to discuss greater protection for copyrighted material including films and music.
About 8 percent of the bulk drugs imported to the U.S. are counterfeit, unapproved or substandard, and 10 percent of global pharmaceutical commerce involves counterfeit drugs, the administration said in a report last year, citing United Nations figures. Counterfeiting threatens the integrity of protective vests, aircraft engines and automobile tires, Biden said as the report was issued in June.
In the report, the administration said it would strengthen enforcement of intellectual property rights, with steps including coordinating police work and increased training for state and local law enforcement officials.
“It’s a matter of economic opportunity and it’s also a matter for public safety and national security,” Biden said Sept. 28.
The U.S. plans a diplomatic push to get more countries to join in cyber-crime investigations, Howard Schmidt, the top White House cyber-security official, said Jan. 25.
Schmidt said that “in the very near future” the administration will develop “specific efforts” to work with other countries to ensure they help hunt down criminals who steal information and data using computers.
Other participants in the Jan. 28 discussion included Autodesk Inc. CEO Carl Bass, Concord Music Group Inc. CEO Glen Barros, senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.
‘Krishna’ Can’t Be Protected by Trademark Law, Indian Court Says
The name of a deity cannot be protected by trademark law, the Delhi High Court ruled in a case involving competing food makers, the Times of India reported.
Bhole Baba Milk Food Industries tried to halt Parul Food, a butter producer, from using the Krishna name, according to the newspaper.
Parul Food argued that Indian mythology associates Krishna with stealing butter and that no one should be able to lock off the name of a god as popular as Krishna, the Times reported.
The high court agreed and said that in Indian, the name Krishna is as common as John is in western countries, according to the Times.
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Sony Wins Order Barring Spread of PS3 ‘Jailbreak’ Information
Sony Corp.’s Sony Computer Entertainment America unit persuaded a federal judge in San Francisco to order a New Jersey resident to quit making public information on how to install alternative operating systems for the PS3 video game console.
In her Jan. 27 order, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston told George Hotz and two other named defendants they couldn’t publish any information about how to “jailbreak” the console, or provide lines to other websites offering any anti- circumvention devices.
Hotz gained a measure of fame for posting a guide on how to jailbreak Apple Inc.’s iPhone so it could be used with other carriers. That process involved soldering the circuitry and modifying the device’s software.
Illston also ordered Hotz and the other defendants not to delete, dispose of or alter any documents relative to circumvention devices, and for Hotz to surrender computer equipment on which any circumvention devices are stored.
Sony sued Hotz, the two other named defendants and 100 unnamed defendants in federal court in San Francisco Jan. 11, alleging they had infringed copyrights by providing circumvention information and devices. They were also accused of violating the license agreement for the PS3.
In a document filed with the court Jan. 21, Hotz said he had never violated a license agreement with Sony and that he never had been presented with an option to accept or agree to licensing terms of Sony’s PlayStation network.
Illston gave the parties until Feb. 1 to meet and discuss a hearing date on several motions before the court.
Hotz is represented by Stewart Reynolds Kellar of San Francisco. According to his website, he represents defendants in file-sharing cases.
Sony’s lawyers are Holly Gaudreau, James G. Gilliland, Mehrnaz Boroumand Smith, Ryan T. Bricker and Timothy R. Cahn of Atlanta’s Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP.
The case is Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC v. Hotx, 3:11-cv-00167-SI, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
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